Brave King Elvis Pound Cake

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Living -

It started as a sim­ple enough task: Find a re­ally good pound cake recipe.

Af­ter all, how much vari­a­tion could there be in a time-hon­ored recipe that com­bines flour, sugar, but­ter and eggs?

A lot, as it turns out. I started with a recipe from King Arthur Flour that hewed mostly to the tra­di­tional for­mula of us­ing a pound of the four main in­gre­di­ents, ex­cept halved be­cause I wanted to stick to one loaf pan. I de­cided a head-to-head com­pe­ti­tion was in or­der, so I thumbed through my cook­books for some­thing dif­fer­ent and made Elvis Pres­ley’s Fa­vorite Pound Cake from “Gourmet To­day.” It was a big de­par­ture in that it used cream in­stead of some of the but­ter and cake flour (and less of it) in­stead of all-pur­pose.

Tasters were torn. They liked the fla­vor of Elvis, but the tex­ture of the other King. So I threw a third into the mix. This con­tender, sim­i­lar in ra­tios to the Elvis cake but with sour cream in­stead of heavy cream, came from pas­try wiz­ard Stella Parks of­ri­ouse­, with whom I had con­sulted about why the orig­i­nal two were dif­fer­ent and why the Elvis cake looked so odd and lumpy on top.

Her cake was per­fect – moist and dense in the way you want a pound cake to be; golden, domed – but a few folks could not get be­hind the dis­tinc­tive sour cream fla­vor (which I loved). So I cre­ated a mash-up: The Brave King Elvis Pound Cake.

Parks’ ad­vice was in­valu­able. She en­cour­aged me to look at the ra­tios of the in­gre­di­ents com­pared to each other, which I was able to use to my ad­van­tage when I started tweak­ing the amounts of flour, sugar and but­ter to bring the fla­vor of the Elvis cake in line with the tex­tures of hers and King Arthur’s.

The most cru­cial tip, how­ever, was that tech­nique mat­ters as much as in­gre­di­ents. The tem­per­a­ture of my in­gre­di­ents was off (but­ter and eggs too warm), the bowl was not scraped enough dur­ing mix­ing, and the wet and dry in­gre­di­ents were not added grad­u­ally enough. All those can cause the emul­sion of the cake bat­ter – yes, just like a mayo, where in­gre­di­ents are sup­posed to be held in an even sus­pen­sion – to break. This recipe com­bats all those prob­lems.

Cool room tem­per­a­ture is a good bench­mark when it comes to in­gre­di­ents. And, yes, let­ting the cake cool slowly and com­pletely helps lock in the mois­ture for the best tex­ture.

In the end, my ef­forts were worth it for a loaf that is ten­der yet firm, moist and bright yel­low on the in­side with a down­right ad­dic­tive crackly sugar crust – one of my tasters’ fa­vorite fea­tures – on top.

Yield: 12 serv­ings; makes one 9-inch loaf

Adapted from recipes from King Arthur Flour, “Gourmet To­day: More Than 1000 All-new Recipes for the Con­tem­po­rary Kitchen” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2009) and pas­try chef and cook­book author Stella Parks.

10 ta­ble­spoons (1 stick plus 2 ta­ble­spoons) un­salted but­ter (5 ounces), at cool room tem­per­a­ture (firm but a fin­ger will leave a dent), plus more for the pan

1⁄ cups plus 2 ta­ble­spoons all-pur­pose flour, prefer­ably 4 low-pro­tein (8 ounces), plus more for the pan

1 1⁄ cups plus 2 ta­ble­spoons sugar (11 ounces)


1 tea­spoon bak­ing pow­der

1⁄ tea­spoon kosher salt


3 large eggs, at cool room tem­per­a­ture (place in hot tap

water for 3 min­utes)

2 tea­spoons vanilla ex­tract

2⁄ cup heavy cream (5 ounces)

3 1

Po­si­tion an oven rack in the lower third of the oven; pre­heat to 350 de­grees. Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with but­ter and dust with flour.

Com­bine the sugar, but­ter, bak­ing pow­der and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand­held elec­tric mixer; beat on low speed to com­bine, then in­crease to medium. Beat un­til fluffy and light, about 5 min­utes, stop­ping to scrape down the bowl and pad­dle at­tach­ment or beat­ers half­way through.

With the mixer still run­ning, add the eggs one at a time, let­ting each fully in­cor­po­rate be­fore adding the next. Re­duce the speed to low and sprin­kle in of the flour, then add the vanilla ex­tract and of the heavy cream. Re­peat with re­main­ing flour and heavy cream, work­ing in thirds as be­fore.

Scrape down the bowl and pad­dle or beat­ers with a flex­i­ble spat­ula and re­sume mix­ing on medium speed for a sec­ond or two to en­sure ev­ery­thing is well com­bined. The bat­ter should look creamy and thick.

Trans­fer the bat­ter into the pan and bake un­til the crust is golden (al­though the in­te­rior of the split crown will be quite pale), about 1 hour and 5 min­utes, or un­til a tooth­pick or cake tester in­serted to­ward the mid­dle of the cake to one side of the crack in the crown comes out clean.

Cool the cake for 3 to 4 hours, then loosen with a round­edged knife and re­move from the pan. To min­i­mize mois­ture loss, wrap the cake tightly in plas­tic and con­tinue cool­ing un­til no trace of warmth re­mains, which can take an ad­di­tional hour or two. Slice and serve.

Notes: Stella Parks rec­om­mends get­ting the eggs and but­ter to a cool room tem­per­a­ture of about 65 de­grees (the but­ter will still be rel­a­tively firm but a fin­ger will leave a dent). We found it made a dif­fer­ence in how well the bat­ter came to­gether and in the tex­ture of the fi­nal prod­uct. An in­stantread ther­mome­ter is help­ful here, not only to check the tem­per­a­ture of the but­ter but also the cake once it has fin­ished bak­ing.

To bring the eggs to the right tem­per­a­ture, place them in hot tap water (110 de­grees) for 3 min­utes.

Make ahead: The cake can be stored at room tem­per­a­ture tightly wrapped in plas­tic or in an air­tight con­tainer for sev­eral days. For long-term stor­age, tightly wrap in plas­tic, place in a zip-top bag and freeze for up to sev­eral months.

Nutri­tion | Per serv­ing: Calo­ries: 320; Sat­u­rated Fat: 10 g; Choles­terol: 90 mg; Sodium: 70 mg; Car­bo­hy­drates: 41 g; Di­etary Fiber: 0 g; Sug­ars: 26 g; Pro­tein: 4 g


In the ideal pound cake, tech­nique mat­ters as much as in­gre­di­ents.

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