There’s a good reason why everybody loves pound cake so much. Its recipe is extremely straightforward, its ingredients are available, and most importantly, it’s delicious. Yet, it might take bakers years to learn how to make the perfect pound cake.
There are common pound cake problems that face every baker, from the cake shrinking to tasting like eggs. Luckily, all you need is to learn some tips and tricks that’ll help you avoid these problems and bake the tastiest, fluffiest cake.
In this article, we’ll tell you all the pound cake baking mishaps and how to avoid them. Keep reading to find out the secrets to a mouthwatering cake!
An incredibly common baking mishap is a falling cake. Pound cakes need to be airy and fluffy. So, a sunken cake can be pretty disappointing.
Typically, your pound cake might sink in the middle, leading to a chewy and sticky texture. There are numerous reasons for this ranging from problems with your ingredients to issues with your oven.
Beginners often overlook this step, but preheating the oven is the most crucial step in baking.
That’s because the cake needs to start baking immediately after you’re done mixing the ingredients. Otherwise, the batter will set, and the leavening agent won’t activate.
For this reason, you need to preheat the oven for at least 20 minutes before popping your pound cake in.
If you take out the pound cake when it’s not ready, it’ll collapse. The cake needs to be thoroughly baked so that it holds its shape once you take it out of the oven.
The best way to test if the cake is ready is to insert a toothpick in the middle. Then, take the cake out of the oven if the toothpick comes out clean.
Even if you follow the recipe’s baking time, you might still end up with an underbaked cake due to the following mistakes:
- Forgetting to preheat the oven
- Setting the oven to a low temperature
- Frequently checking the cake as it’s baking
- Using a pan that’s too small for the cake
The leavening agent is what’s responsible for the fluffiness of the cake. Naturally, if there’s any issue with the leavening agent, the pound cake might shrink!
First, it’s important to understand that baking powder and baking soda aren’t interchangeable. If the recipe calls for one, don’t substitute it for the other, at least not in the same quantity.
That said, you can use one teaspoon of baking soda for every three teaspoons of baking powder if you’re in a pinch. Though, the results won’t be the same.
Secondly, baking soda needs an acid to activate properly. The milk is usually sufficient to activate the leavening agent. Though, if you’re lactose-intolerant or replacing the milk, you might need to add other acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or cream of tartar.
Lastly, the leavening agent might just have gone stale! The general rule of thumb is baking soda lasts for about six months after opening. Still, you can test it by adding a pinch of the leavening agent to some vinegar. If it fizzes, then it’s good to use!
So, you’ve perfectly followed the pound cake recipe, but the cake stuck to the pan? This can be the worst-case scenario for a lot of bakers.
Luckily, you can avoid your pound cake from sticking to the pan by paying attention to the following mistakes:
Some pans just don’t work for baking cakes. Cakes don’t easily release. That’s why you’ll need to use a pan made of non-stick material or opt for silicone baking molds.
Still, you want the pan to efficiently conduct heat, so the cake doesn’t shrink. For this reason, you might need to choose a metal, non-stick pan while taking other measures to prevent your pound cake from sticking!
Even if your recipe doesn’t call for greasing the pan, this is an essential step. You should always grease your pan before pouring the batter in.
Use butter or lightly flavored oil such as vegetable oil. Then, dust the pan with some flour. Don’t forget to also oil the sides of the pan!
If you think that’ll be too much fat in the cake, don’t worry. You’ll be able to soak the excess oil out of the pan with tissue paper. Alternatively, you can stick to baking sprays.
Parchment paper is a baking must-have. It’s a sure way to prevent your cake from sticking to the pan.
If you’re only getting into baking, you might easily get dissuaded from using parchment paper for your pound cake. After all, cutting it to size can be complicated.
All you have to do is fold the parchment into a one-inch triangle, then place its tip in the middle of your baking pan. Trim the end along the curve of the pan, and you’ll be left with a perfectly-sized circle!
Everybody loves a fluffy pound cake! So, it’ll surprise you to find out that a pound cake that’s too fluffy can be a problem.
If the cake rises too much while baking, it might spill out of the pan. Additionally, the cake will deflate once you remove it from the oven.
Though you might do the following in the hopes of a fluffier cake, these can completely ruin the pound cake’s texture:
A common way to incorporate more air into baked goods is to beat the eggs until stiff peaks form. However, this isn’t necessary in the case of pound cakes.
If you overbeat the eggs, the cake will overflow from the pan. Moreover, the egg mixture will be harder to incorporate, and the golden crust of the pound cake will break apart.
Rather than mixing the eggs into the batter, or folding the stiff egg mixture into the cake batter, try beating the eggs separately. Ideally, you should mix the eggs until you get a cohesive golden color and there are no egg streaks.
You might think that adding more baking soda will result in a fluffier cake. Unfortunately, there’s only so much baking soda can do!
Not only will adding too much baking soda lead to the batter overflowing, but the fluffy cake will shrink immediately. Also, the pound cake will taste bitter.
Baking soda isn’t an ingredient you should eye or add according to your liking. The general rule of thumb is to add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of flour. This equates to ¾ teaspoons of baking powder.
Some recipes call for baking your cake for a longer time at a lower temperature. Sure, this gives the cake time to rise while preventing the edges from burning.
Unfortunately, this only works if you don’t overfill the pan. Additionally, you should add a water bath to help the cake bake evenly and prevent it from drying out.
Naturally, this is too much effort for a simple pound cake! You can still get a fluffy cake by baking it at 350°F for 45 minutes, or when a toothpick comes out clean.
It doesn’t matter if your pound cake shrinks, sticks, or overbakes if it tastes delicious. Unfortunately, another common baking mishap is the pound cake tasting incredibly eggy.
The first thing that’ll come to your mind is that you used a lot of eggs. Yet, the number of eggs might be fine. Let’s find out the reason behind the eggy taste:
If any ingredient in your pound cake isn’t thoroughly mixed, it’ll certainly have a prominent taste. That’s also true in the case of eggs.
While you don’t want to overbeat the eggs, you still want to incorporate all the ingredients. If you’re unsure if you’ve mixed the eggs with the batter, you can beat them before adding them to the mixture.
Using a whisk or a fork, beat all the eggs together in a separate bowl until you reach a coherent consistency. There shouldn’t be any streaks of egg yolks or whites.
You need to add another ingredient to offset the taste of the eggs in the pound cake. Typically, the balancing ingredient is the vanilla extract or sugar.
Pound cakes are pretty simple. You need one pound of each of the main ingredients, including sugar and eggs. Unfortunately, this ratio might not be enough to balance the eggy taste.
You might tweak the recipe by reducing the number of eggs or adding extra sugar. However, if you want to follow the classic recipe, you can add vanilla extract, cinnamon, or a splash of lemon juice.
Pound cakes are one of the easiest yet most delicious, baked goods you can make. You don’t need previous baking experience, and you’ll find all the ingredients right in your pantry.
That said, there are some common pound cake problems that even professional bakers might face. For example, it’s common for the cake to stick to the pan, overflow, or shrink when you take it out of the oven!
This might be due to either adding too much or too little baking soda. Alternatively, you should pay close attention to the oven settings and the baking time. Also, make sure to preheat the oven.
Hopefully, once you know to avoid these problems, you’ll be able to make the most impressive and mouthwatering pound cake.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.