The Unusual Ingredient You Should Add To Pound Cake

When looking for a simple sweet treat with old-fashioned flare, few baked goods hit the spot like pound cake. According to Smithsonian Magazine, pound cake's name comes from its original recipe, which calls for literally placing a pound of each of its easy-to-find ingredients into a mix. So yeah, this dessert is about as straightforward as it gets.

But when it comes to cooking, some of the best dishes often come from veering into unusual recipe combos. Chefs and home cooks have long prided themselves on their ability to discover odd but delicious food combinations, like this recipe from Confessions of a Fit Foodie that calls for stuffing baked sweet potatoes with bananas and peanut butter, or this chocolate cake that features kale as a secret ingredient. In the 18th and 19th centuries, chefs were making dishes that combined carrots and sugar (per NPR), precursors to modern-day carrot cake. And just last year, Marble Slab Creamery set minds ablaze by folding Flamin' Hot Cheetos into their sweet cream base to create a whole new ice cream experience (via Food Business News).

Pound cake has not escaped this seemingly inherent need to try out interesting ingredient combinations. While it's tasty as is, even this classic sweet can benefit from a flavor facelift thanks to an unexpected addition.

Add summer squash to your pound cake mix

Vegetables and sugar might appear to be natural enemies because we've been taught that they exist on opposite ends of the taste spectrum (savory and sweet), but toss some summer squash into your pound cake mix as Taste of Home suggests and you might be surprised by the way this unconventional couple was made for each other. With similar ingredients and a melding of sweet and savory ingredients, this twist on traditional pound cake has an uncanny resemblance to zucchini bread.

As Taste of Home notes, the recipe is great for when you find yourself with lots of extra summer squash (whether from a farmers market haul or an especially green thumb in your home garden). And even though it's clearly a dessert, the vegetal addition helps to keep the cake's sweetness in check. Also, putting a bit of summer squash in your pound cake will give it a nutritious boost (via the University of Wyoming), so you can pair your midday pick-me-up drink with a slice of cake that tastes good and is slightly healthier than its peers.

Combining the unexpected with the expected is a great way to expand your palate and add new, exciting flavors to your life. And infusing pound cake with summer squash is just one example of the way strange food combinations can potentially result in your new favorite meals.