Never underestimate the power of a good pound cake. A combination of a pound of each key ingredient – butter, eggs, flour and sugar, which comes together to make a soft yet rich and tender sponge cake with a comforting texture. With such simplicity, however, finding a pound cake that stands out is sometimes hard.
A blank canvas needn't be a bad thing, though. As recipe writer and food stylist Esther Clarke proves, a simple pound cake recipe can be turned into something truly special by the addition of spice. That's the notion which runs through her debut cookbook – The Modern Spice Rack, which seeks to encourage the liberal and creative use of spices in cooking and removes the idea that certain spices must be rigidly married to a particular cuisine.
With a simple flourish of liquorice sweetness from the fennel seeds, sharpness of lemon zest, and the slight acidity of buttermilk, a simple cake is reinvented into something sophisticated. Everyone should have a good pound cake recipe in their repertoire, and this might just be the one.