The More Things Change…

Pound Cake isn’t called pound cake the world over of course. The French call it quatres quarts (or “four fourths” cake for those of us in the Anglosphere). That term again refers to the proportion of ingredients, which, as we can see from the below posts, canny bakers were fooling with even in the very earliest days of pound cakes. Given all that fooling, and the fact that we as postes modernes tend to believe we’re radically removed from every human that stomped the Earth before, say, 1970, it begs the question as to just how different our present day pound cakes are from the originals. So let’s examine it, shall we? Here are the cake ingredients we’re working with this week by weight:

7.5 ounces softened unsalted butter
1.8 ounces milk
5.2 ounces eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6.75 ounces sifted cake flour
5.25 ounces sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. grated orange zest

Looks pretty different from the cake’s colonial “pound each of butter, eggs, sugar and flour” origins. But let’s take a close look. Eggs are the only liquid ingredient in the original. They introduced some of the fat and protein (yolks) and all of the water (whites) to the equation. Our recipe has a small amount of milk also serving that function, so I think it’s safe to combine them. And since the teaspoon of vanilla has nowhere else to go, I’ll drop it in there too for a total of 7.2 ounces of liquid.

Next, the dry ingredients. Sugar is sugar, so I’ll leave that alone. Since the baking powder and orange zest can be considered dry bulk, I’ll put them in with the flour. And so the result is:

7.5 ounces butter
7.2 ounces eggs
7.1 ounces flour
5.25 ounces sugar

Pretty darn close to a “four fouths” cake if you ask me. Kinda cool. Now where on Earth did I put that powdered wig?

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