The pound cake received its name because it traditionally contained one pound each of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. It is a staple for bakers because it's easy to make, reliable, delicious, and keeps for a long time. Today's pound cake are not restricted by the original recipe and can be enhanced with bits of chocolate, poppy seeds, fruits, and raisins, just to name a few. The old-fashioned plain pound cake is still a classic.
For a truly dense cake, mix the batter by hand. For a lighter texture, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar, then finish mixing by hand. This cake is supposed to be a dense cake, so be careful not to overmix the batter by beating it too long with the mixer. Otherwise, it may come pouring over the sides of the pan when it bakes.
Bake pound cakes in loaf, tube, or Bundt pans, preferably of shiny metal rather than dark steel. Dark pans cause the outside of the cake to brown before the inside is baked through.
Don't worry if the top of the cake splits -- this is normal -- this is caused by steam escaping during baking.