MAKES: 1 loaf (at least 8 servings)

TIME: About 11/2 hours, largely unattended, plus time to cool

I love regular pound cake, but I love the sweet and mild corn flavor of this even more. Thanks to whipped egg whites, it’s light and tender, not leaden as you might expect, provided you use finely ground cornmeal. And it’s flavorful enough to eat on its own or with any number of toppings, from powdered sugar to Berry Jam Glaze.

Sauces, glazes, and frostings you can use with this cake: Drizzle with Lemon-Clove Glaze or Berry Jam Glaze or spoon on any fruit pure.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus butter for the pan

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch salt

1 cup sugar

5 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325В°F. Grease a 9 — 5-inch loaf pan. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Use an electric mixer to cream the 2 sticks of butter until it’s smooth. Add 3/4 cup of the sugar and beat until it’s well blended. Beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as necessary. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Add the vanilla and stir until blended.

Mix in the dry ingredients by hand just until smooth; do not overmix and do not beat. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they foam, then sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar while beating to soft peaks. Fold them gently but thoroughly into the batter (the base batter is very thick).

Turn into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 minutes before inverting it onto a rack. Remove the pan, then turn the cake right side up. Cool before slicing. Store at room temperature, covered with wax paper, for a day or two; you can gain a couple more days by wrapping in plastic, but at some loss of texture.

Variations

Ginger Pound Cake. Use fresh ginger for its flavor alone; crystallized ginger for its flavor and chewy bits: Substitute grated or very finely minced peeled fresh ginger and/or 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger for the vanilla extract.

Vanilla-Lime Pound Cake. Using real vanilla beans makes a lot of difference here: Substitute 1 vanilla bean for the vanilla extract and add 2 teaspoons grated or very finely minced lime zest. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use a small sharp knife to scrape the seeds into the butter mixture; add the zest.

Yogurt Pound Cake. Yogurt replaces some of the butter for a lighter, even moister cake: Substitute 3/4 cup yogurt for half of the butter.