EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 17, 2014

Pound Cake: Then and now

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — In my search for a tried and true family pound cake recipe, I discovered a way to bake one I had never heard of, undoubtedly because it is at least a 100-year-old recipe.

It is called a “cold-oven” pound cake, which is started in a stone-cold oven versus a pre-heated oven.

This cake became popular in the South at the turn of the 20th century, when gas lighting was still used but new gas oven technology was being introduced. Apparently because the cold-oven pound cake was seen as thrifty, the gas companies used the recipe as a marketing tool promising that money could be saved by no “needless” preheating. I do not know if the recipe successfully sold more stoves, but the “cold oven” method apparently became a very popular way to bake a pound cake, and in the South it remained popular into the 1940s.

Cold-Oven Pound Cake


3 cups cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups sugar

6 large eggs

1. Use an angel-food cake tube pan, well greased and floured.

2. Combine dry ingredients. Combine milk and vanilla in measuring cup.

3. With electric mixer on medium, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of milk. Mix on low about 30 seconds.

4. Place in a cold oven, bake in a 325 degree F oven on the lower middle rack until cake is golden brown. Do not open oven door for 65 minutes; may need to cook 10 to 15 minutes longer.


It seems everyone has a favorite pound cake; some become the star of many a Sunday dinner table. This recipe has a rich texture, and the addition of fresh lemon juice adds bright, fresh flavor.

Coating the pan with bread crumbs makes it easier to remove from the pan.

Traditional Sour Cream Pound Cake


3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs

4 cups sifted cake flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sour cream

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup butter

2 3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Coat a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray; dust with fine bread crumbs

3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt; stir with a whisk.

4. Combine sour cream and baking soda; stir well.

5. Place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and vanilla, beating until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add juice; beat 30 seconds.

6. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream mixture to sugar mixture, beating at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

7. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Good to hear from you

Dear Pat: I have been using a lot of onions lately; what is the best way to get the onion odor off my cutting board?

Brenda, Salem N.H.

Dear Brenda: The best way I know is to use a baking soda paste. I just sprinkle a small “hill” of baking soda on my board, add water until a paste forms and rub that over the board. Let sit a few minutes and rinse. It works for me.

Hi Pat: A friend of mine told me that I should throw out my baking powder after 6 months. I thought it was good for a couple of years. Do you know?

Jane L., Andover

Dear Jane: My research confirms that baking powder should be bought fresh after 6 months to obtain the best results possible in all your baking.

Hi Pat: Do you know how to prevent cream puff shells from deflating when I take them out of the oven? I have been making them a lot lately for friends and have tried several tips that aren’t working.

Zena, Lawrence

Dear Zena: Try the following methods:

1. Two oven temperatures; 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes (use oven thermometer to check for correct temperature).

2. Do not open oven door while baking.

3. When done, immediately make a small slit in top of each and return to oven for 5 minutes (this lets steam escape).

If these steps don’t work, please let me know and we’ll investigate further.

Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at patakitchen@yahoo.com.