• Chef Recipes

Apple Vanilla Pound Cake: A Recipe by Joanne Chang

By Joanne Chang · 05/04/2020

On special Sundays when I was growing up, my mom would serve us toasted slices of Sara Lee pound cake. I savored every velvety buttery bite, sometimes slicing my piece even thinner and running it through the toaster again to get more crunchy bits. When I started working for François Payard, one of the top pastry chefs in America, at his eponymous Payard Patisserie, one of the first recipes I learned was French-style pound cake. He instructed me to whip the eggs and sugar together till light and voluminous and gently fold in melted butter and a touch of heavy cream. Dry ingredients were even more gently folded in after that to preserve the airy foam and the cake baked off soft and tender with a much lighter crumb than what I was used to. As fond as my memories are of my Sundays with Sara, this light-as-a-cloud cake has become my preferred way to make and eat pound cake.

Makes 1 loaf

1¼ cups cake flour, sifted (sift after measuring)
¾ cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 medium granny smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ vanilla bean


► Heat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan with parchment or butter and flour the pan. Set aside.

► In a small pan, melt the butter. Scrape out the vanilla seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the butter. Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla extract and set aside to let the mixture come to room temperature.

► In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip together the eggs and sugar until thick and lemony colored, 4 to 5 minutes on medium high speed. While the eggs and sugar are whipping, sift and stir together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

► When the egg-sugar mixture is thick, add the dry ingredients and gently fold by hand using a rubber spatula.

► Scoop a few large spoonfuls of the batter into the butter-cream mixture and stir to combine well. Once the butter-cream mixture is lightened, add it all into the batter and fold until completely combined.

► Scoop into the prepared loaf pan. Layer and shingle the apples across the top in two rows.

► Bake in the 350°F oven for 50 to 60 minutes until the pound cake is golden brown on top and firm when you press it in the middle. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool.

► Sift a bit of confectioners’ sugar on top to finish off the cake and slice and serve. Use a very sharp serrated knife to gently slice through the apples. Pound cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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