Pound cakes are the go-to dessert for many home bakers for a good reason. They’re incredibly delicious yet straightforward.
A common issue you might run into while baking the famous dessert is having a dense pound cake. Generally, pound cakes are heavier than regular cakes. Still, if they’re gummy, there might be a problem.
So, why is your pound cake so dense?
In this article, we’ll tell you all the baking mishaps that might cause your cake to be chewy and how to get the perfect texture in your pound cake. Let’s dive in.
Generally, pound cake is denser than other types of cake. Its formula is widely different from other desserts.
This cake has a pound of both butter and eggs! Naturally, it’ll be dense. However, the cake shouldn’t taste eggy or dry.
Your pound cake should be evenly baked. It should also taste like regular cake, yet it won’t be as fluffy. Its texture is somewhat similar to bread.
If the cake has gluey streaks, is dense in the middle, or tastes too heavy and rubbery, you might’ve made some mistakes while baking.
There are many causes for a dense cake. Some of them have to do with the recipe, others are due to a faulty baking process.
Here are some of the most common baking problems you might face while baking your pound cake:
The first and most common reason for a dense cake is having less than enough of the leavening agent. Baking powder or baking soda are responsible for the fluffiness of the cake, even in the case of the denser pound cake.
First, if you add too little baking powder, the cake won’t rise. Additionally, if you substitute baking soda for baking powder, you won’t get the same results.
Typically, you need three teaspoons of baking powder for each teaspoon of baking soda.
Second, you need to ensure your baking soda is still active. You might check its expiry date, but the leavening agent can expire before that, depending on the environment.
Luckily, you can tell if the baking soda is good to use by testing it! Add about ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to two teaspoons of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon. If the baking soda fizzes, then you can use it for the pound cake!
If your cake is dry as well as dense, it’s probably been in the oven for too long. This causes the cake to deflate as all the air escapes.
Baking a pound cake is a delicate process. If you make one mistake, the entire cake can be ruined.
For starters, if you bake the cake at a high temperature, it’ll become dry and gummy.
In contrast, if you turn the temperature down but leave it in the oven for too long, all the moisture and air will escape, leaving you with a dry, deflated cake.
That’s not all. Many beginner bakers constantly check on the cake while it bakes. In this case, every time you open the oven, the hot air will get out.
Then, you’ll need to leave the cake longer, so it bakes evenly. Naturally, you’ll end up with a dry, rubbery cake.
Every baker knows the importance of preheating the oven. Not only does the instant high heat help your pound cake bake evenly, but it also prevents the baking soda from deactivating.
To explain, if you let the batter sit, the baking soda will disintegrate into the batter, becoming inactive. So, the cake needs to start baking as soon as you’re done mixing the batter.
Moreover, preheating the oven ensures the cake quickly rises. If you forget this step, the cake will rise slowly as the oven heats up and then deflates.
4 – Overmixing the Batter
There are two main reasons why overmixing the batter is the wrong way to go.
First, overmixing the flour will cause the formation of gluten. This gluten is responsible for the dense, chewy texture, which is the last thing you want in your pound cake.
Since you’re using a shopping pound of flour, you want to make sure you incorporate it into the batter. Instead of using the mixer, add the flour last and gently fold it into the batter until everything is smooth.
Secondly, if you beat the eggs too quickly, you’ll get an overly heavy cake. That can also be the case if you overbeat the eggs.
Beating the eggs until they’re white and fluffy is the perfect way to add more air to the batter. However, a pound cake calls for way too many eggs.
This will cause the cake to rise way too quickly. As soon as you take it out of the oven, it’ll deflate and become too dense.
Luckily, there are some baking tricks you can do to have a perfectly baked pound cake that isn’t too dense.
The classic pound cake recipe calls for a pound each of flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. Well, the best part about baking is that you can experiment with the recipe until you find one that works for you.
Instead of adding an entire pound of eggs, you can use four eggs. You might also increase the amount of baking soda, or use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour.
Though you might get away with mixing all the ingredients randomly when making brownies, there’s a specific method for cakes!
To start, you should cream the butter with the sugar until it’s smooth and you can no longer see any sugar granules. Then, slowly add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly.
To avoid gluten formation, sift the flour before adding it to the batter. Start by adding ⅓ of the flour and folding it in, and slowly add the rest.
Baking is when all the magic happens. Even if you’re using the ideal pound cake recipe, if you don’t bake it correctly, the cake won’t end up quite right.
Before preparing your ingredients, you should preheat the oven to 350 to 375°F. Don’t let the batter sit for too long after mixing. Immediately place the cake in the oven.
Though it can be tempting to check the oven every five minutes, you should let the cake bake for at least 30 minutes or until the top is golden.
Once you can see the brown-gold color of the cake, you can check if it’s ready with a toothpick. Avoid letting the cake cool in the hot oven, as it’ll continue baking.
So, why is your pound cake so dense?
Typically, pound cakes are supposed to be dense. The ideal texture of a pound cake is similar to bread. However, your cake shouldn’t be streaky or gummy.
For the perfect texture, make sure the leavening agent is active. You must also preheat the oven, and avoid overmixing the ingredients!
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.