How A Cold Oven Could Take Your Pound Cake To The Next Level

Of all the delectable cakes out there, pound cake is one of the most delicious. Whether it's a rhubarb pound cake with black tea cream or slices of grilled pound cake served with stone fruit and mascarpone, pound cake is a rich and yet relatively neutral-tasting cake that goes well with a variety of flavorings. According to Allrecipes, original pound cakes called for a pound of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. The recipe dates back to 18th-century Britain, where the average person could not read or write, and such easy-to-memorize recipes were quite popular. Later, the treat made its way to the United States, where it's become a staple of Southern baking, according to Epicurious.

Like almost every baked good we can think of, the process of stirring together a pound cake typically starts with preheating the oven, usually to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit (via Epicurious). But did you know that a version of pound cake started in a cold oven — a version that actually owes its height and fluffiness to this unusual baking technique?

Cold oven pound cake is fluffier, with a caramelized crust

According to cookbook author and bakery owner Cheryl Day, cold oven pound cake was likely developed by gas stove manufacturers to hawk their products. In her book "Treasury of Southern Baking," she writes that these recipes "first appeared in advertising campaigns designed to entice homemakers into replacing their wood-fired ovens with the gas stoves that were being introduced to the American market in the early 20th century" (via Epicurious).

So why bake a cake in a cold oven? "Low and slow is the key to this cake," Day told Epicurious. "That gives the leavening—baking powder in this case—more time to work. The cake is so dense with eggs and butter that it really needs the extra time." Stuart Farrimond, author of "The Science of Cooking," added that "The longer cooking time gives more time for the air bubble to inflate slowly, and so [it] give[s] a better rise."

Jarrett Melendez of Epicurious tested Day's cake recipe in a cold oven set to 325 degrees after the cake is placed inside and in a conventionally preheated oven. He found the former cake to be fluffier, with a more burnished crust and a full inch taller than the other cake. So the next time pound cake is on the menu, you might want to start it in a cold oven.