OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Traditional pound cake but with a German twist

Sandkuchen (German Poundcake)  (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Sandkuchen (German Poundcake) (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

Historical pound cake recipes were simple: 1 pound of butter, 1 pound of flour, 1 pound of sugar, 1 pound of eggs plus a bit of aromatic flavoring like vanilla or lemon. (That formula, by the way, makes two loaf cakes.)

This German version strays from that formula in that it doesn't use equal parts of each ingredient and includes a bit of cornstarch and baking powder. The vanilla and lemon juice give the cake a nice subtle flavor while the cornstarch and baking powder give the crumb lightness. But don't be mistaken; even with the additional lift, this loaf cake is rich and dense — perfect for serving with coffee or tea.

My apologies to the originator of this recipe — when I scribbled it onto a piece of paper three years ago, I failed to note its source. The measurements were in metric and it called for a packet of vanilla sugar, an ingredient common in Germany but unavailable here, so I'm guessing I took it from a German recipe website. I converted the recipe to cup measurements, but for anyone interested in pulling out their kitchen scale, I've also kept the metric weights in place. Note: The conversions are not exact.

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Sandkuchen (German Pound Cake)

  • 1 ¼ cups (250 grams) butter, softened
  • 1 cup PLUS 3 tablespoons (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice PLUS more for optional glaze
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (100 g) potato starch OR cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting or glazing

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or grease and flour or coat with baking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until creamy. Add lemon juice and eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. After adding the last egg, beat for about 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, starch and baking powder.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture — I added it in three additions — and mix just until no white streaks remain. The batter will be thick.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan, and then dust with confectioners' sugar or glaze with a mixture of about 2 cups confectioners' sugar and 3 tablespoons lemon juice.

Makes 1 cake.

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