Pound cakes, like marriages, require a healthy dose of compromise. Just ask Drew Robinson, formerly a chef at Birmingham-based Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q, and his wife, Melany, a culinary publicist, who for the past six months have embarked on the journey to develop a house pound cake recipe. “We both love pound cake, but what I like is a lot different than what Melany likes,” Drew says. “So rather than fight over which cake we make, we decided to work to find the middle ground.”
Drew’s ideal pound cake incorporates cake flour with ingredients beaten for a long time to produce a super fine, silky crumb. Melany, on the other hand, likes her crumbs chunkier, which comes from all-purpose flour and less beating. To start, they each brought their favorite recipe to the table—Melany’s modified from the cakes her adopted grandmother made her as a child, Drew’s adapted from a recipe attributed to Elvis Presley’s housekeeper—and began playing with proportions and flavors. “We experimented with cream cheese versus sour cream. We tried different extracts: More almond or less almond? More vanilla or less vanilla?” Melany says. “Our biggest debate was on preheating the oven or not. Drew is always of the opinion that a pound cake starts in a cold oven, but I like crust from a preheated oven.”
“This recipe is the closest combination of getting the crust Melany likes on the outside and getting the finer crumbs I like,” Drew says.
“And we’re hands-down in favor of sour cream. We’re not wavering on that,” Melany says. “I also really think we have all the ratios right: Butter to egg, vanilla to almond. Don’t you think that’s all right, Drew?”
Drew pauses for a long moment. “Possibly.”
“See, it’s never ending,” Melany laughs. “I guess we’re going to have to make another one this weekend.”