cream cheese vanilla rum pound cake

prep 30 mins cook 50 – 60 mins makes 12 slices

200 g (1 1/3 cups) soft but cool butter (not melting)
150 g (1 cup) soft cream cheese
200 g (1 1/3 cups) fine grain sugar
2/3 level tsp fine salt
4 tbsp full cream (full fat) milk powder

4 egg yolks
200 g (2 cups) plain or all purpose flour, sifted at least 3 times (use self raising flour for a less dense cake)
1 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract or paste (I used Nielsen Massey vanilla paste – no egg can stand up to it)
6 tbsp dark or Malibu rum (use milk, your favourite liqueur or citrus juice if preferred)
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven at 140 C (285 F) and grease and flour a 23 cm (9 in) tube pan.

Combine butter, cream cheese, sugar and salt in bowl of standmixer and beat with paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth and well combined. Add milk powder and continue to beat on medium speed until mixture is very pale and fluffy. This will take at least 8 minutes.

Reduce speed slightly and beat in one egg yolk at a time, beating after each yolk until yolk is no longer visible before adding the next.

Turn off machine and scrape mixture down sides of bowl. Sift over a third of the flour and mix in on minimum speed, by turning the motor on and off until flour is no longer visible. Add the vanilla and rum (or preferred liquid) and mix in again by turning the machine on and off on minimum speed, until liquids are no longer visible.

Add the remaining flour in two lots (sifted over), using the same turn on/turn off method. Scrape down sides of bowl again. Do not overmix or you will develop the gluten in the flour and your cake may turn out heavy.

Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in another clean and grease free deep mixing bowl and whisk until peaks form but egg whites are not dry or grainy. Fold a third of whites into batter and fold in with whisk. Add remaining whites and fold in until whites are no longer visible. Do not overmix or you will deflate the batter and your cake may not rise well.

Scrape batter into prepared tin and and tilt pan to level batter. Bang tin once sharply on work surface to dispel any large air bubbles. If you don’t do this, your pound cake slices will look like Swiss cheese (see pictures). Bake at lower centre of oven for about an hour. Test with skewer after 45 minutes and if not done, again at 50 minutes. When skewer comes out clean (a few tiny crumbs sticking on the skewer is fine), remove from oven and leave cake for 15 minutes before turning out onto a rack.

While cake is still very warm, but not too hot to handle, wrap in cling film and leave until cake is cold. Keep overnight before slicing. This softens the crust and makes the crumb more moist, which is how I like my pound cake. If preferred, cool unwrapped cake completely on rack then keep in a lidded container and eat within 5 days.