An all-time favorite, this old fashioned pound cake recipe is sweet and crusty on the outside with a buttery, dense crumb inside. A tried and true crowd pleaser, this pound cake is absolutely delicious on its own or perfect when topped with berries and whipped cream.
What is pound cake?
Pound cake is a classic cake recipe which originally consisted of one pound of butter, one pound of flour, one pound of sugar and one pound of eggs. Pound cake is thought to be of Northern European origin and the recipe has been around for a few centuries.
My grandmother (Nanu) made pound cake regularly and often served it during afternoon tea. Like most people from Bangladesh at the time, Nanu did not own an oven. Nanu used to bake the cake inside an ominous-looking black metal box with a hinged door, which worked by being placed on top of a gas stove. There was something indescribably wonderful about how the house smelled when she baked. I remember that eating my piece as slowly as possible because it was so tasty.
Why make this old fashioned pound cake recipe?
I make old fashioned pound cake because of its deliciously tender golden crumb. Unlike modern cakes which are light and airy,the flavors and textures of old fashioned pound cake last much longer and literally explode in your mouth.
This easy recipe is also an easy winner because all the ingredients are usually already in my pantry.
While the classic recipe produced a very, heavy dense cake, lighter variations have evolved over time. I love this recipe because it closely resembles my Nanu's old fashioned pound cake recipe.
This easy-to-maker recipe has only eight ingredients which you most likely already have in your pantry.
- All-purpose-flour: You can use either all-purpose flour or cake flour for this recipe. I have tried both and prefer the version with all-purpose flour because creates a heartier crumb.
- Large eggs: Room temperature eggs work better because the egg yolks and egg whites break up more easily and mixes smoothly into the batter.
- Evaporated milk: I like using evaporated milk when baking but you can easily substitute 2% or regular milk.
- Granulated white sugar: In addition to adding sweetness, granulated white sugar adds a crispy, sweet, deliciously caramelized crumb to the outside of the pound cake. Using the medium-sized granules is key to a wonderful pound cake because it spreads in the oven as it melts. This adds that signature sweetness to the golden brown buttery crumb in the inside of the cake.
- Unsalted Butter: The best pound cake recipes always uses butter as the central flavor of this classic recipe. I prefer using unsalted room temperature butter so that the butter mixes quickly and evenly into the dry ingredients. Use the best quality butter that you can find as it does make a difference. I use unsalted butter because I prefer to control the amount of salt in the cake. For the most authentic taste, do not substitute the butter with alternatives like olive oil, margarine, coconut butter or shortening.
- Salt balances the sweetness of the cake.
- Vanilla extract adds its own heavenly flavor, while enhancing the flavors of the other ingredients in the cake.
- Baking powder is used to adjust the density of the cake.
How to make this old fashioned pound cake recipe
This recipe relies on a special mixing sequence to maximize crumb texture. It differs from modern cake recipes because you do not cream the butter first, which results in a more volumious cake. Instead, room temperature butter is added to the dry ingredients before the wet ingredients. This process reduces gluten formation producing a dense, moist crumb texture resulting in the best pound cake.
Step One: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter or spray a loaf pan (a round cake pan or Bundt pan can also be used). Line both the sides and bottom with parchment paper. Then butter or spray the parchment paper. Tip - a great way to butter the pan and parchment is to rub it with a soft, stick of butter.
Step Two: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla extract.
Step Three: Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl. Beat on low speed using a stand mixer (paddle attachment) or hand mixer. Make sure the dry ingredients are fully combined.
Step Four: Add the slices of creamy butter to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the whisked egg mixture a little bit at a time. Beat well, starting at low then medium speed and moving to high towards the end. Scrape the sides as needed to ensure an even, thorough mix.
Step Five: Pour the cake batter into the lined pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 50-55 minutes. When done, the cake should be a golden-brown color and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Rotate the cake halfway through the baking process for even browning. If the cake gets too brown too early, cover it with a with a piece of lightly buttered aluminum foil. Note - it is normal for pound cake to crack down the center.
Step Six: Remove the pound cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. After about 10 minutes, remove the cake from the pan, remove the parchment and cool completely (1-2 hours).
How do you get a sticky pound cake out of a pan?
The signature, lightly caramelized outer crust of pound cake has a strong tendency to stick to the pan. For best results, line the cake pan with buttered parchment.
If you do not use parchment, grease and flour the pan very generously. To release, slide a butter knife along the sides while the cake is still warm to release.
Tips for making the best old fashioned pound cake
- Line the pan with greased parchment paper for easy release.
- Add the wet mixture a little at a time so that the batter is mixed thoroughly.
- Use cake flour for a lighter crumb and all-purpose flour for a denser, more authentic taste.
- Butter and eggs should bee at room temperature. To soften, leave the butter on a kitchen counter for about 2 hours or put into a proofing oven for about an hour. I do not recommend softening the butter in the microwave.
- Adjust the baking time as needed on your oven and pan type. Check on the cake before the recommended time so that you get the perfect bake.
How to serve pound cake?
Pound cake tastes delicious with coffee or tea. You can also serve it dusted with some powdered sugar, with whipped cream and Strawberry Sauce or as part of a layered dessert like strawberry shortcake.
Storing pound cake
Freshly baked pound cake can be stored for 3-4 days at room temperature in an airtight container. It will also keep for about a week in the refrigerator, if stored properly. The best way to store this moist cake is to put it in an airtight container or cover with foil or plastic wrap so that it does not dry out.
Can you freeze pound cake?
Stored properly, freshly baked pound cake freezes well and will last for about two months. To store, wrap the cooled pound cake in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Do not use aluminum foil as it can leave a metallic taste and discolor the cake, Next, wrap the cake in aluminum foil at least twice. The multiple layers ensure that the cake retains its moisture and distinctive flavors and does not get contaminated with external moisture/smells from other items in the freezer.
How many calories are in pound cake?
Each slice of this old fashioned pound cake recipe has about 326 calories, 19.5g of fat and 34.1g of carbohydrates.
This recipe yields approximately 8 servings. The nutrition information has been calculated using an online recipe nutrition calculator and is intended for informational purposes only and should be used as a general guideline. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should independently verify it using your preferred tool.
Homemade pound cake is my favorite cake for picnics and on-the-go snacks. Its easy to make variations to the basic recipe by adding zest, a glaze or adding flavors or colors to the basic old fashioned pound cake recipe. Some examples are provided below.
- Lemon Pound Cake - add about one tablespoon of lemon zest to the batter and mix well before pouring into the bowl. Top with a lemon glaze made of 1 ¼ cups of confectioner's sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. for a more intense lemon flavor add a few drops of lemon extract.
- Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake - same as the Lemon Pound Cake described above except fold in an additional 2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries to the batter at the end. Tip: To prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the batter, coat them with a little flour prior to adding to the batter.
- Marble Pound Cake - Pour half the batter into a buttered and lined cake or loaf pan. Add ½ cup cocoa powder to the remaining batter. Mix well. Spoon the chocolate batter into the cake pan in a long strip leaving some space at the sides. Using a butter knife, swirl the batter in a zig zag motion about 3 times around the pan. Do not over swirl.
- Ombre pound cake - Divide the batter into 3 bowls -add food coloring in different shades of a single color. Pour the bowls of batter into the cake pan starting with the darkest color first.
- Almond Pound cake - I love adding a teaspoon of almond extract to this recipe on festive occasions. During Christmas, I will bake the pound cake in a Bundt pan and sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar. A very simple, delicious variation.
- Strawberry Mascarpone Pound Cake - I love making this for picnics - simply layer the pound cake with whipped mascarpone and strawberries and top the cake with them as well. The whipped mascarpone travels very well and the strawberries that perfect summer touch!
- Cream Cheese Pound Cake - This variation produces a very moist, tangy flavored cake. It includes both cream cheese and sour cream and so is also to as Sour Cream Pound Cake. Because of the different ingredients, this version needs to be baked "low and slow" - I typically bake this decadent cake at 325°F and the bake time ranges between 60-75 minutes.
Pound cake is a dense cake compare to butter cake which has a light, airy texture and more volume.
The flavor of pound cake can be easily adjusted by adding flavor extracts like almond extract, orange zest, lemon zest, rum or cocoa powder. Flavor is most easily added by adding layers like whipped cream, salted caramel butter cream frostind, berries and custard.
Finally, if you make this recipe
I'd love to hear how it went - please leave a comment and rate this recipe. Above all, I love hearing from all of you and will do my best to answer every comment!
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Best Old Fashioned Pound Cake Recipe
Old Fashioned Vanilla Cake
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cups granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter room temperature, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 eggs large, room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons evaporated milk room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter or spray a loaf pan (a round cake pan or Bundt pan can also be used). Line both the sides and bottom with parchment paper. Butter or spray the parchment paper
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla extract.
- Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl. Beat on low speed using a stand mixer (paddle attachment) or hand mixer. Make sure the dry ingredients are fully combined.
- Add the slices of room temperature butter to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the whisked egg mixture a little bit at a time .Beat well, starting at low then medium speed and moving to high towards the end. Scrape the sides as needed to ensure an even, thorough mix.
- Pour the cake batter into the lined pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 50-55 minutes. When done, the cake should be a golden-brown color and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. It is normal for pound cake to for even browning. If the cake gets too brown too early, cover it with a with apiece of lightly buttered aluminum foil.
- Remove the pound cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. After about 10 minutes, remove the cake from the pan, remove the parchment and cool completely(1-2 hours).
- Line the pan with greased parchment paper for easy release. A great way to butter the pan and parchment is to rub it with a soft, stick of butter.
- Mix the batter thoroughly.
- Use cake flour for a lighter crumb and all-purpose flour for a denser, more authentic taste.
- Make sure that the butter and eggs are at room temperature. To soften, leave the butter on a kitchen counter for about 2 hours or put into a proofing oven for about an hour. Butter softened in the microwaving produces mixed results - do not try this if you have a choice.
- Use the freshest, best quality ingredients. Higher quality butter and vanilla extract makes a wonderful difference.
- Adjust the baking time as needed on your oven and pan type. I would start testing the cake before the recommended time so that you get the perfect bake.
This is so unfussy and perfect, and the flavors and moisture are so on point! I'm not a huge dessert person but could have a slice of this daily. It's so delicate!
Agreed - thank you so much Dana!
Thank you for this delicious recipe! I added some lemon to it and served it with fresh summer berries. So good!
Lemon is a great idea!!! Thank you for your kind words MJ!
Wow! This old-fashioned, classic pound cake looks fabulous! It's such an easy to make cake and is perfect for an afternoon snack or after dinner dessert.
Thank you Kathleen!
This pound cake was perfect!! I made it to bring to a family dinner and we had it with some fresh berries and homemade whipped cream. Everyone loved it!
Awesome! Thank you so much!
I can't wait to try this recipe. I love pound cake. It's my favorite dessert, and I'm always happy to try new ways to make it.
Thank you Beth!
Where did you get the beautiful blue flowered plates in this recipe? Thank you kindly!
I got them from TJ Maxx several years ago - I no longer have any so cant tell you the brand! Thank you!