Chocolate Pound Cake


A few years ago I discovered my neighborhood used book store.  It’s a not-so-tiny-but-still-cozy place with a steady stream of previously-loved books flowing in.  I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that it would be a wonderful source for old cookbooks–maybe I feared that I’d hurt the nice UPS man’s feelings if he didn’t have a delivery for me from Amazon every few days?–but I got with the program.  Since this discovery I’ve popped in a few times a year to check out “new” volumes in the cookbook section.  The floor-to-ceiling shelves are packed with both old and new editions.  Even more books are stacked on the floor for easy perusing.  When time permits I park myself in a warm little corner of the bookshop, sit on the old wooden step stool and read, read, read.

While I see popular, new cookbooks and pick them up from time to time, I’m most interested in the older editions.  Like clothes, shoes and cars, dishes also seem to fall out of fashion and it’s always exciting (for a food blogger, at least) to rediscover dishes that have fallen out of favor.

But I’m always concerned by the quality of the recipes from unfamiliar (to me) books, especially older ones.  Are the recipes accurate?  Are the dishes good?  This uncertainty almost creates an element of adventure cooking from these lesser-known older cookbooks.  Leafing through the pages of a recent find on chocolate cakes, this chocolate pound cake appealed to me for its simplicity but mainly because it was called “Dependable Chocolate Pound Cake”.  How’s that for assurance?  So I set about making it.

The result?  While I thought it turned out just as I’d hoped in many respects–chocolatey, rich, dense as a pound cake should be–I found it a bit dry (don’t leave me yet–keep reading).  Even as I folded the dry ingredients into the egg/sugar mixture it looked like there was too much flour.  I began to second-guess my kitchen scale but ultimately blamed the results on a bad purchase.  But I couldn’t let the matter go for some reason.  The cake tasted good.  How about just reducing the amount of flour next time, I thought.

What I did instead was compare this recipe against the Joy of Baking recipe for the same cake.  As I compared the ingredients side-by-side I noticed close similarities with only minor differences in proportion and types of flour and sugar used.  Then I got to the part where it said “1/4 cup water”.  I thought, “There’s the problem! My recipe is missing this ingredient.”  But lo and behold, my recipe did have liquid on the list.

I forgot to add the liquid!

Sure enough, in paragraph 3, I was instructed to add milk or water as I folded in the dry ingredients.  You can believe how relieved…and stupid…I felt for omitting this crucial step.  I found the reason for the slight dryness to the cake–the recipe is a winner after all–and shame on me for blaming the book.  I am confident that the next time I make this pound cake it will have the moisture that it lacked due to my mistake.  Just as its name suggests, I do believe this recipe will be one I depend on for years to come.  Even with my omission the cake is almost gone.  Just don’t forget to add the liquid!

** For my favorite Lemon Pound Cake, click here.



5.0 from 7 reviews
Chocolate Pound Cake
Rich, dense and chocolatey--what more could you ask for in a cake?
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10-12
  • 1¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon cake flour (8 ounces)
  • Scant ⅔ cup (2 ounces) unsweetened, Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 generous cup (8 ounces) superfine sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup water or milk
  1. Position a rack on the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan, dust it with flour and tap out the excess. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together twice then set aside. Using a hand mixer on low speed, beat the butter for 1 minute or until light. Add the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating as you go. Once all the sugar is added, continue beating on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 10 seconds between additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute then add the vanilla.
  4. Fold the sifted ingredients into the batter in three additions, alternating with the water (or milk) in two additions. Once everything is combined beat the batter on low speed for another minute until it's smooth.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan, smooth the top and tap the pan on the counter to break up any air bubbles in the batter. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out dry.
  6. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.
Recipe from Chocolate Cake: 150 Recipes from Simple to Sublime by MIchele Urvater



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  1. Glad you found your mistake! Because this cake looks moist and delicious!

  2. Looks beautiful! Don’t you just love it when you forget an ingredient when baking!? I have that chocolate cake cook book- can’t remember the last time I used it- we should have a cook book exchange;-)

  3. That looks so perfect. I am in if that’s made with chocolate. I know with my son around, I keep forgetting what I added and what not to the cake mixture. Glad you found your mistake. The cake look so moist and perfectly bakes.

  4. That book store sounds like a slice of heaven! I’d love to spend an afternoon browsing and reading. I love a chocolate pound cake – I wonder if you could add a 1/4 cup freshly brewed coffee? I may have to try that! 🙂

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Laura, you bet! I considered it since my favorite chocolate cake has lots of coffee in it. Hmm, maybe I would have remembered the liquid if I had done this. The cookbook also recommends a lot of variations on this cake. Without my omission, it’s a great recipe. 🙂

  5. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overlooked a crucial ingredient. It’s so easy to do!
    This chocolate pound cake looks perfect. I love the tight crumb and the gorgeous brown colour.

  6. I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets busy or distracted and leaves something out. I get so angry with myself when that happens. Your pound cake looks wonderful!

  7. I won’t forget! So is this photo the loaf in which you forgot to add the water? Hehe…you can probably rename this as a Chocolate Bread or Loaf! But don’ worry, I think ALL bakers have forgotten ingredients one time or another…If they didn’t, some “happy accidents” in the kitchen wouldn’t have occurred, and some of the treats we know now might not have come to life!

  8. Jean – Next time I come out your way, you have to show me this wonderful bookstore. Sounds like you found some treasures. It is funny how we get distracted when cooking – luckily it came out beautiful! Need to make this soon – I bet it was simply amazing!!!!

  9. Jean, even without adding the liquid, it looks perfectly moist and wonderful!! Enjoyed reading your post!

  10. It’s so easy to do! I’ve left eggs out of a cake in the past and only realised 10 minutes after it started baking. Glad the recipe came through in the end though 🙂

  11. I can so relate to forgetting or overlooking an important ingredient and then after re-reading the recipe see it plain as day. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who does that. I do love old cookbooks too, I would like that book store as well.

  12. Forgetting to add an ingredient happened to me more than once so it’s good to know I’m not the only one. 🙂 This pound cake sounds irresistable! I have been looking for a good chocolate pound cake recipe. Thank you!!

  13. This chocolate pound cake is truly a testament to your fabulousness as a baker. You forget the liquid and it still looks perfect- I bet it tasted great too! I would love a piece of this cake for breakfast 🙂

  14. I love everything about poundcake, from the rich texture to that crackly top! Sooo good!

  15. I love poundcakes! their texture is so luscious. A great chocolate cake!



  16. I love playing around with various pound cakes. Nothing beats pound cake. Especially with some sort of slightly crisp glaze over the top! Yours looks delicious and I’m certainly glad you added that water!

  17. Welcome to the club of forgetfulness. LOL! That had happened to me before. I recently made a chocolate cake too that asked for water. I was curious, why water? I’m relieved to know that your recipe also asked for water. Whatever mistake you did, I would love to have a piece of that cake!

  18. What a great story – we all do that, you know, overlook ingredients. I had never thought of going to a secondhand book store to check out the cooking section. We have one in our suburb so I will check it out over the weekend.

  19. Hi Jean!
    This “Chocolate Pound Cake” looks so moist, delicious, soft, and mouth watering, even if you have forgotten to add liquid.

  20. Don’t you just want to kick yourself when that happens? I’ve done that before, go through a long recipe that sounds fantastic, the phone rings, the kids start asking questions, the dogs need to go out and before you know it, you’ve left out a critical ingredient. Typically you realize it as its baking away in the oven.

    One way to fix it, turn it into a trifle adding pudding, curd or other moist ingredients or soaking the cake with some liqueur and no one would know the difference.

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there that does this. Nice post.

  21. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    I really enjoy finding old cookbooks. This is a gorgeous chocolate pound cake. Completely unscathed to me from the lack of water. I do that sometimes and actually did it this morning with waffles-guess I needed some coffee before I started baking:)

  22. Glad I’m not the only one who forgets things. The worst is when you forget sugar and keep thinking it tastes like bread not cake, lol. I wish we had a used book store out here, I miss the one where I used to live. Sounds like you are having lots of fun there. We missed you at the festival. We shall just have to think up another reason to have a party and eat cake.

  23. I love those old book stores, I could spend all day in one!

  24. My kids and I loved to visit used book stores…

    Well even with the missing ingredient the cake looks delicious!

  25. I discovered a used book store near us years ago and purchased WAY too many books. I’ve been trying not to buy anything new as I have so many I haven’t even read them all yet. But sometimes I just can’t resist.
    Had to laugh at your omission of the liquid!! I”ve done that, or “better” yet, I’ve added ingredients twice sometimes. Not one of my best moves, but that is why muffins don’t rise sometimes, just double the liquid!!
    Saw a pic of this poundcake on either facebook or instagram or something a few days ago, and I’ve been eager for the recipe! Beautiful pictures, love the shadowing.

  26. I loved hanging out in used bookstore when I was in school. It’s so nice that one is near your home. Your chocolate pound cake looks wonderful. Haha I make mistakes in kitchen often especially when I have guests over. No doubt and no exception! I think my mind is all over the place and I forget things. I like Laura’s advice on adding coffee. Your cake looks perfect already. I love that you will be using this recipe for a long long time. That tells how perfect this recipe is. 🙂

  27. My boyfriend always raves on about pound cake. He loves eating it frozen – weird. Maybe I should give this one a try and see if it gets his seal of approval! I know what you mean about hurting the postmans feelings, I wonder this too with online shopping.

  28. I made it last weekend and loved it! It had a dense ness while still being moist. I was very careful to follow the directions carefully. I think it helped to whisk the butter mixture very well until really fluffy. I also think using great quality chocolate like Sharffen Berger contributed to the rich cocoa flavor. It also tasted more moist after being chilled in the fridge for some reason. And of course after being warmed in the microwave! : ) Thank you for this recipe!

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