I don’t have any talent for acting but if I’d become an actress I would be interested in complex roles, characters full of layers; I would not want to play the girl next door – no, sir; I would like to be Alex Forrest, Isabelle de Merteuil, Patricia Hewes (yes, I love Glenn Close), Ada McGrath, Marla Singer, Mary Magdalene, Sarah Pierce; Sister Aloysius Beauvier, Nina Sayers, Lisbeth Salander – everything but plain roles.
But as far as cakes are concerned I love them plain, with just a hint of vanilla, with a simple icing like this butter cake or no icing at all, like Elvis’ favorite: nothing fancy or complex as far as flavor is concerned but with such tender texture that I can easily say it is one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted.
Elvis Presley’s favorite pound cake
from Gourmet’s fantastic recipe bible
3 cups (360g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)*
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups (600g) granulated sugar
7 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
Generously butter and flour a 25cm (10in) tube pan (11.2cm/4 ½ inches deep, not with a removable bottom) or a 12-cup Bundt pan**.
Sift together the flour and salt twice. Set aside.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour mixture, then all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down side of bowl, then beat at medium-high speed 5 minutes. Batter will become creamier and satiny.
Spoon batter into prepared pan and rap pan against work surface once or twice to eliminate air bubbles. Place pan in (cold) oven and turn oven temperature to 180°C/350°F***. Bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 1 to 1 ¼ hours. Cool cake in pan on a rack 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around inner and outer edges of cake, then invert rack over pan and invert cake onto rack to cool completely.
Sift with icing sugar to serve.
Cake keeps, covered well with plastic wrap or in an airtight container, at room temperature 5 days.
* homemade cake flour: 1 cup (140g) all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons corn starch
** I used this pan (25cm/10in) but it did not hold all the batter – I divided the remaining batter among three 1/3 cup (80ml) mini loaf pans
*** I did not read the recipe properly and ended up baking the cake in a preheated oven (180°C/350°F) for 1 hour
Makes 10-12 servings