About forty years ago, my parents clipped a recipe from the Philadelphia Inquirer called “Philly Pound Cake.” I think my dad has made several batches of these amazing cream cheese pound cakes every year since then. He still makes them as gifts for co-workers, friends, and the mailman. Sometimes he keeps them on hand in the freezer as emergency presents when someone shows up unexpectedly to our house with a gift in hand. Whenever he makes a batch, they all get wrapped up, minus one. That one sits on on the counter with a knife nearby, and everyone can walk by a slice off a piece.

One year, when my family visited my parents for Christmas, I walked by the kitchen and noticed several grisly incisions in the pound cake and a butcher knife sunk into the top. Next to the counter was the kitchen stool. Evidently, my two-and-a-half-year-old had helped himself to a piece. If you live at high altitude like I do, I am afraid I have no real wisdom on how to get these to rise properly. See how flat the little tops are? Whenever I have employed the conventional methods raising the temperature, reducing the sugar and butter, adding more flour, blah, blah, blah the flavor is altered way too much to make it worth it. If mine don’t rise to fill my aesthetic requirement, I simply cut them up and arrange them on paper plates and give them out that way, or layer the slices in a trifle. I am sorry I cannot cite the exact source of this recipe. Over the years it has become such a favorite, it feels like our own. However, I don’t think my family has ever altered it since its publication in the Sixties. So, thank you, whoever you are, who developed this recipe. It has been a much-loved holiday tradition in our family.

Philly Pound Cake

  • 2 sticks (225g) unsalted butter, softened, but not quite room temperature
  • 1 8 ounce (225g) package of cream cheese, softened slightly
  • 1 1/2 (285g) cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (165 degrees celsius). Spray four mini loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray, and place on a cookie sheet.

2. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and cream cheese. Pour in sugar and mix until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well until each is incorporated. Mix in vanilla.

3. While ingredients are mixing, whisk together four, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients.
4. Distribute batter evenly among the four pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.  Let cool and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Wrap any extras tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to one month.

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