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Philly Fluff (Cream Cheese Pound Cake)

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Meet Grandpa.

A 90 year old, Brooklyn born, Italian. He walks several miles daily, still drives, and frequently pulls out his refrigerator for cleaning. I haven’t done that in…yeah, never. He frequents the OTB, the local butcher and every single bakery on Long Island.

At 90, his physical strength and overall health are astounding. The secret to his longevity? Cake. You should know that his “cake” is any form of Italian pastry. Crumb, sfogliatelle, and pie keep his heart ticking. At his last doctor’s visit he checked “no” to all the health history questions: High blood pressure? High cholesterol? Heart disease? In disbelief, the nurse re-read the questions as if he didn’t understand. He stopped her – “Lady, the only problem I have is that I eat too much cake. Is there a box for that?” Well…he’s right.

Cake is eaten for breakfast, mid-day, and after dinner. When you’re eating cake, you discuss what cake you’ll be eating next. It is ALWAYS on his mind. Most recently, while shopping with him for a new car, I found myself asking the salesman at the dealership to wait just a minute as I had an urgent phone call to make. My grandfather was insisting we call to place an order for two coconut custard pies, right there in the middle of the show room. And on the way home from the dealership, we stopped at two bakeries – one for crumb cake and one for something new to me, a Philly Fluff. The pies were for the morning.

But there comes a time for change and after 90 years, Grandpa is moving here. Here, as in not New York. Here, as in you can’t have your pick of Italian bakeries. Here, as in there are no Italian bakeries.

This is a serious issue, so we tried to break the news gently. To him, it was incomprehensible nonsense. How could there be a place on this earth without an Italian bakery? Why would anyone live there? His response was total denial. “I will scour the town to find the best cake near you.” He’s not getting it. The scouring has already been done Grandpa. If you want good cake in Virginia, you have to make it yourself. And I’ll start with that Philly Fluff.

When I asked my Grandpa to describe a Philly Fluff he said “Oh. Kris. It’s real nice.”

Cute, but not necessarily helpful in terms of recipe re-creation. The bakery explained that a Philly Fluff is pound cake made with cream cheese. They had two variations, Marble or Plain. He ordered two of each. Did I mention he eats a lot of cake?

After talking with the bakery, a great deal of cookbook research, and two failed attempts, I think I nailed it. The cake is extremely moist. Its texture is dense and the flavor is light. I made both variations. Grandpa will need both. He called to tell me he ate a marble one for breakfast (and I don’t think he meant a slice), and that he has a plain one for later. I don’t have a favorite. They’re both sublime. The marble is made with bittersweet chocolate, so it’s not overly sweet. The plain is perfect on its own or could easily be enhanced with a little citrus zest or almond extract. Either way, it’s fabulous.

I really want Grandpa to like it here and I like to think my baking just might help ease his transition. Once he realizes that there really are no bakeries within a 50 mile radius with an acceptable pignoli or linzer cookie, I think he’ll be overjoyed that I can make him his “cake,” for a small price of course. So Grandpa, about cleaning behind that refrigerator…

Philly Fluff – Cream Cheese Pound Cake (makes one 9×5 loaf cake, plus 8-10 cupcakes) Ingredients: 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature 1¾ cups sugar 5 eggs 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I used Mexican vanilla) 2 cups all-purpose flour 1½ teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon kosher salt 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted (optional – use only for marbled variation) Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan. Prepare a cupcake tin with at least 8 cup liners.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
  3. Add in the sugar and mix until combined.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time mixing after each addition. The batter should be thickening at this point.
  5. Add the vanilla.
  6. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and mix. Add the dry mixture to the wet batter and mix until combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, filling it only 2/3 of the way. DO NOT OVERFILL (see below). If you are making the marbled cake, fill the batter about 1/2 way, add the melted chocolate and swirl by dragging a knife back and forth through the batter. Top with more batter to fill the pan 2/3 of the way. Add a few last drops of chocolate to the very top and swirl again. Pour any extra batter into cupcake tins. You should have extra batter.
  8. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a knife
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    inserted in the center comes out clean. Be sure to rotate the loaf pan about half way through baking. I also tented my loaf with tinfoil for the last 20 minutes of baking, as the top was already very brown. The cupcakes will only need to bake for 25 minutes so be sure to set a timer to remember to remove them.

Notes:

  1. I don’t know if the cake originated in Philadelphia or is named after the cream cheese brand. If anyone does, let me know.
  2. My first attempts included using cake flour, less sugar and fewer eggs. The cakes were drier and more crumbly than the Philly Fluff I had in NY, but still edible. So go ahead and play with this recipe if you’d like. I used full-fat cream cheese as well. I’m not sure pound cake is one of those desserts that can (or should) be easily “lightened.”
  3. There will be extra batter. I learned the hard way. On the first attempt, I tried to fit it all into one pan, hoping it wouldn’t rise much (notice the pans are too full in the seventh picture above). Horrible mistake resulting in fire alarms, profanity, and having to clean the oven. I don’t recommend it, so make the cupcakes. Who doesn’t like “extra” cupcakes? I got 9 out of my extra batter. Yes, only 6 are photographed. Don’t ask questions.
  4. As unbelievable as it sounds, the mail came as I was typing this post and look what Grandpa sent! A crazy coincidence, since he has no idea I’m posting about this. Apparently he just felt like it was time to send some Philly Fluff love.


99 thoughts on “Philly Fluff (Cream Cheese Pound Cake)

  1. Okay, so this is my dad you are describing, and I can’t smell cake without gaining 5 pounds! You are amazing! A re-creation of good New York cake! I never thought I’d see the day. Love you and grandpa does, too.

  2. I don’t know your Grandpa, but I love him! And he is lucky to have you. I had an Italian grandpa (“Pop Pop”) too, who unfortunately passed away before I was born. However, having known much of his family, I believe he and your Grandpa would have gotten along well! I can’t wait to try this cake!

  3. I just got around to reading the “pound cake” blog and I am laughing so hard my tummy hurts. Grandpa looks amazing and I say if eating cake everyday is his secret, make 5 of them. ha ha ha And oh yea, when you open the italian bakery, I want in, need any silent partners. ha ha ha

  4. Is bittersweet chocolate the same as unsweet chocolate, like the Baker’s brand kind? What kind did you use? And don’t say you got it at Wegman’s or I’ll just have to drive Mark and I over to one. I want to make this cake for Saturday dinner at a friend’s house.

    • Mine was 70% bittersweet ghirardelli. It was a bar at whole foods in the baking section. I wouldn’t used unsweetened but I’m sure semisweet or even milk chocolate would be fine. It’s just a hint of it throughout. I LOVE dark chocolate so I went pretty dark with the bittersweet.

  5. Great- I have some semisweet callets that I’ll probably try unless I get to the store for the ghiradelli! Can’t wait to try this!
    PS- my MIL just bought me some fancy valrhona cocoa powder. I’d love a post with an idea on how to make the most of it (delicious, easy recipe :)

  6. Your grandpa seems awesome! I bet you are excited to have him close by! That cake looks rich and delicious! I’ll have to save this recipe for a “cheat” day:)

  7. Aw, such a nice story! I am jealous as I never had much of a relationship with my grandparents. Have you ever been to Heildberg bakery in Arlington, it is German, so it will not fulfill the void, but they do have some amazing treats and bread!

  8. I’m at the hair salon. They just put in a computer for customer use. Yippie! The owners husband has a photo club & I pulled up your site to brag about your skills. They love it!! I’m surrounded by women looking over my shoulder (while my hair is in foil) viewing the recipes. They printing your recipes. See you in a few days.

    • Sorry – It just means to cover the cake with tinfoil but do it loosely and bend the foil (like a tent) so the middle of the cake doesn’t touch the foil. Sort of like a roof for the cake pan. Make sense? You got this Erica. I’m so excited that you’re baking/cooking – see you soon!

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    • Wow! You’re good. That is Milleridge. And he LOVES it. As for their bakery it’s not in his book (he has a book of his favorite bakeries) but we do eat dessert when we’re there.

      • We Love The Milleridge too. I live in that area, so if there are any bakeries in his book near there- I would love the referral!! We are always looking for a good bakery. :)

  10. So, I made the marbled Philly Fluff yesterday! Incredible! We took it to a dinner party and I think it was a hit. I used a 10 inch loaf pan because that’s all I had and used the rest of the batter for six mini cupcakes since I figured two regular sized cupcakes would just be sad to look at in the oven. Good stuff!

  11. No- but I will track it down. Thanks. Made the philly pound cake for a cousins party on Friday and all the kids loved it. I put the batter in my car shaped cakelet molds and they came out adorable. The kids then each, took a car, whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries and decorated them. Recipe is a keeper. Good Job!!! Kids want me to make it again tomorrow ..

  12. Oh. My. Goodness. I figured this cake would be good, but it knocked my socks right off. Well, to be totally honest, it’s still in the oven, but two of the cupcakes were surrendered to my “quality control” measures right out of the oven with a cup of coffee.

    I was looking out for an excuse to make this…finally found one…the parents in law are coming to visit and I wanted to make them a surprise. Next time I won’t wait for an occasion to make this rich, buttery, delicious treat. Thanks for the tenting tip by the way, I’ve been wondering how to keep my cakes from browning so much. Though I think I may need to get my oven checked – my cupcakes took an hour and the cake is in there an hour and half and counting. Knife still battery. Any ideas?

    • If your oven is electric, I would definitely get that heating element checked if you find that most dishes are taking so much longer than what the recipe calls for. So glad the cake turned out! Hope everyone enjoys your surprise!

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  16. Hey Krissy,

    Do you think the marble cake would be fluffier if i use cake flour instead of all purpose flour? What do u think?

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  21. Really enjoyed reading your post about Grandpa and his cakes, and how you made yours… I used your recipe to make mine (I poured them into two smaller loaf pans instead of making extra cupcakes), and they turned out quite well :) Thanks for sharing, and keep writing, cos that personal voice makes for good connection with your readers :)

  22. Hi Krissy,
    your awesome recipe made its way to Munich, Germany. We really enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing! Did you ever try to combine it with some berries inside? It reminds me of Very Berry Coffe Cake we had at Starbucks this year in May when we visited Portland. I think I m gonna try that next time. Keep on writing I really love your blog!

  23. For days now I was in the mood to bake a pound cake. Pulled out my cookbooks, the recipes didn’t seem very appealing. So naturally I turned to the internet. Sure that I would find a recipe worth baking. I came across a link for pound cake cupcakes… hmmm interesting notion, but ho-hum…. then I followed a link to Philly Fluff…….eureka, I think I found something. I pulled out the ingredients, even dug out from storage and dusted off my Krups Stand Mixer. Set out the ingredients, and got to work. Here’s what I have got to say…. OMG! this is delicious. I didn’t even wait for the cupcakes to completely cool…I like warm pound cake.. and the aroma??????? heavenly! Thank you for posting this recipe. For sure this will be my “go-to” pound cake recipe.

      • Thanks so much! I’m always still shocked when people tell me they actually made something off of this blog. Haha. Grandpa is actually moving. FINALLY! We’ve tried for years and every time he agrees, he backs out as it gets more real but now he’s finally giving in and coming closer! I’ll be making this cake a lot more now :)

  24. I just ate a few too many pieces of Philly Fluff from a local bagel store. (Bagel Boss in Commack, NY) I went online to see if I could find a recipe for Philly Fluff and stumbled upon your posting. I will definitely try out the recipe when I have company coming for Easter. Perhaps I’ll even drizzle a bit of chocolate on top of the fluff as well.

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  26. Not happy with the ingredient list on an old recipe for cream cheese pound cake I decided to see if Google could turn up something better. I wanted to throw together something fairly quick, so no icing afterward, yet tasty for our “mia famiglia Sunday” dinner tomorrow. A Sunday with pasta and Italian sausage needs a little dessert that isn’t too heavy. So I happened to find your website and loved your story about your Italian grandpa. My husband is Italian and we are originally from the NY/NJ area. I’ve never heard of Philly Fluff but love Philadelphia cream cheese. So I decided to make your recipe this afternoon but wanted more of a cake look, so I used two 9″x2″ cake pans for the marbled Philly Fluff. Figured I’d freeze one. LOL! Half of one is already gone! Your recipe made enough batter for the two cake pans, 1 lb 7.25 oz batter in each pan. I baked them at 325 for 45 minutes and they were perfect. I did use 3 tsp vanilla cause we love it so much. I can also see using a streusel cinnamon mix inside and on top, or apple & cinnamon inside, or strawberries & whipped cream on top. This is definitely going to be one of my go to recipes. Thanks so much.
    You mentioned using something GF for the cake. I’m just starting to realize I may have a gluten issue. Would appreciate hearing about what you use.
    Hope your Grandpa has made his move and settled in now.

    • Thank you for the kind words! I used cup4cup flour to make this gluten free. It works perfectly. Just replace the flour cup for cup with the GF flour (it’s true to its name). Grandpa is all moved and adjusting well. Thank you!

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  28. I used your Philly Fluff recipe in my recent post. It’s fantastic…great job!! I did put a link to your blog. I’ll be visiting again.
    Thanks,

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  30. Hello. Thank you so much for this recipe. I love it so much that I’m making both versions for Christmas. This time, I’m thinking of using a bundt pan instead of a loaf pan? Do you think that will work? And should I keep the oven at 325 for 1 hour? Thanks again!

  31. I made this cake for David’s birthday, and memories of your Grandpa will forever live on in my mind and the hearts and minds of many more!! Thinking of you guys! We will enjoy some version of cake and treats in Gpa’s honor sometime soon!! Hugs!!!

  32. Love you Krissy! Thinking of you and your family right now :) I know how much you loved your grandpa and I can tell (especially from this post) how much he loved and appreciated everything you did for him! Remember the wonderful memories you had with him! I will remember all the stories you’ve shared over the last year and a half about him and how hard we laughed :) he seemed like a wonderful man! Hugs and love, see you in a few short weeks! CC love.

  33. Thinking of you and your family today. I can just FEEL the love you have for your Grandpa through this post….and clearly the love he felt for you. Love you Krissy! What incredible stories and memories of this wonderful man you have to wrap yourself in for comfort during this time. Thank you for sharing the stories (and recipes) with us! Hugs!

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  35. Dear Krissy,

    I’ve never met you but I’ve heard wonderful things about you from Michelle Small. When I read your post about your grandpa, it brought tears to my eyes as i come from an Italian family too and understand the non-stop thoughts and plans and delight surrounding good food. No wonder you ended up being a cook/baker. Thoughts and prayers for you and your family as you celebrate his life and grieve his passing. Best, Rita H.

  36. Oh Krissy,
    I am so sad for you about Gpaw but you are so lucky because you have the best stories to tell about him. He seemed like a real firecracker for sure! I wish I would have had the chance to meet him. I will never forget you telling the story about the kleenex boxes on his feet. I seriously remember laughing so hard that tears were coming down my face. I know this weekend will be hard but just try and focus on all of the great moments you had with him. Love you!

  37. Krissy, I’ve only met you on a couple of occasions, and I’ve never met your Grandpa, but I felt instant affection for him just from his photo with you. His face radiates the warmth and humor you talk about so beautifully . How wonderful that every time someone bakes this cake, as I will, a thought goes out to your Grandpa. I’m sorry to hear about your loss, and hope that great memories will comfort you and your family. Warmly, Helene Weiland

  38. Krissy, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I’ve loved reading about your grandpa and his love of cake. I’ll remember your story every time I make this fabulous cake!

  39. Hi Krissy,
    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Grandpa. It’s awesome that you had such a special relationship. I’m thinking of you and your family and wishing you comfort and peace.

    • Thanks Sam. I am super grateful for the relationship we had and realize I am very lucky for that. I hope to see you soon! Take care!

  40. Hi Krissy,
    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Grandpa. It’s awesome that you had such a special relationship. I’m thinking of you and your family and wishing you comfort and peace.

  41. What a beautiful tribute to your Grandfather, Krissy! I read it back when you originally posted it, and reading it again after his passing makes me smile to think of the wonderful relationship you shared. You can truly feel the love in this posting! I’m sorry that you and your family have lost him and hope your memories will keep his spirit alive. Sending big hugs your way!! (I hope you ate a lot of cake in his honor.)

  42. I made this yesterday but i had to make a change. ..I didn’t have any butter :( so I looked to see if there could be a sub and found that coconut oil (solid) is same consistency so could be used…. since I haven’t made this cake yet by recipe so I don’t know how close they are. …BUT right now we all loved it with the coconut oil for butter…I added about a 1/4 coconut and 1/2c chocolate chips … then drizzle a glaze of coconut oil, powder sugar with vanilla and a few drop of milk….mmmm

  43. Holy moly this is insanely delicious. Moist light fluffy amazing! Already planning on making it again because this will not last long. I think I have the same sweet tooth as your grandpa. Thanks so much for sharing this gem :)

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Posted on February 19, 2011


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