Ever since I was little, my family’s traditional Easter dessert has always been strawberry shortcake. Back in the day, my mom would buy those six packs of shortcake cups from the grocery store and fill them sky high with fresh strawberries and Cool Whip – my brothers and I LOVED it! Fast forward to many years later and, while strawberry shortcake is still our annual Easter tradition, those little store bought shortcake cups have since been replaced with thick decadent slices of cream cheese pound cake. Let’s just say…this more grown up version of one of my childhood favorites is really something to rave about!
The cream cheese pound cake recipe we use is adapted from Southern Living’s Big Book of Christmas Baking and I recently found a great article on www.southernliving.com called “Pound Cake Tips from the Pros”. Below I’ve included all of the top tips listed for pound cake success, as I thought they were fantastic reminders before whipping up my Cream Cheese Pound Cake recipe below:
Prep before you start. Carefully read through the entire recipe and prepare any special ingredients before starting to mix the batter. It’s best to pre-measure ingredients and assemble them in the order listed. That way, if you’re interrupted, you’re less likely to make a mistake.
Use name-brand ingredients. Store brands of sugar are often more finely ground than name brands, yielding more sugar per cup, which can cause the cake to fall. Store brands of butter may contain more liquid fat or flours more hard wheat, making the cake heavy.
Be accurate. Measure your ingredients carefully. Extra sugar or leavening causes a cake to fall; extra flour makes it dry. Also, use an oven thermometer to check your oven’s temperature for accuracy.
Have ingredients at room temperature. This results in a pound cake with maximum volume.
Be patient. Beat softened butter (and cream cheese or vegetable shortening) at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. This can take from 1 to 7 minutes, depending on the power of your mixer. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until light and fluffy. These steps are so important because they whip air into the cake batter so it will rise during baking. When baking, place the cake pan in the center of the oven, and keep the door closed until the minimum baking time has elapsed. If the cake requires more baking, gently close the oven door as soon as possible after testing to prevent jarring and loss of heat—both can cause a cake to fall if it’s not completely done.
Don’t overbeat. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears. Overbeating the eggs may cause the batter to overflow the sides of the pan when baked or create a fragile crust that crumbles and separates from the cake as it cools.
Test for doneness. Insert a long wooden pick into the center of the cake. It should come out clean, with no batter clinging to it.
So, now that we know the top tips for pound cake success, let’s move on to my very favorite cream cheese pound cake recipe. Dense, velvety, moist, and, oh so delicious, this cream cheese pound cake makes the perfect base for strawberry shortcake and is sure to become a favorite Easter tradition at your house too! Enjoy!
Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Yields 1 10-inch pound cake
1 ½ cups butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Use an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to mix both butter and cream cheese until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat for 5 minutes, then add eggs one at a time, allowing each to incorporate before adding more. Stir in vanilla.
Sift flour and salt and gradually add to the mixer, beating until well blended. Pour batter into a well-greased and floured 10 inch tube pan. Place 2 cups water in an ovenproof container on the rack in the oven next to the cake. Bake at 325 degrees for an hour and 20 minutes, or until a long wooden toothpick can be removed cleanly.
Place pan on a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and complete cooling on the wire rack.
Note: For best results, bake the pound cake at least a day before serving it and wrap it in plastic wrap.
For strawberry shortcake: Slice 6 cups of fresh strawberries and toss them with ¼ – ½ cup of sugar and the juice of ½ a lemon. Let sit for about 20 minutes, until the berries soften and begin to release their juices. Ladle berries over the slices of pound cake and top with a big dollop of fresh whipped cream.