A simple classic, this really is the best pound cake recipe!
While pound cake has traditionally been made with a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, I’ve made some small adjustments for the best flavor (hello, vanilla extract!). My recipe has a soft, buttery crumb that’s perfectly dense without being at all dry or crumbly and I think you’re really going to like it! Recipe includes a how-to video.
I don’t know where pound cake rates in terms of your favorite cake recipes, but I’ll admit it’s never been a top contender for me. Humble and frosting-less, sure I would eat a slice or two but nobody in my house ever really got excited about pound cake.
Growing up, my mom would always make it as a way to use up her leftover egg yolks after making an angel food cake, AKA my favorite cake, so pound cake has always just been to me what Jon Snow was to Catelyn Stark (the book-version of Cat, I haven’t watched the series but I hear she’s nicer there). Easily overlooked for what I believed was something much better.
Well things have changed (and Jon Snow is my favorite character, anyway), and I hope you won’t make the same mistake that I did of overlooking one of the most classic, best-tasting cakes to ever grace my kitchen.
So, what is so great about this pound cake recipe, anyway?
For starters, it has a tight, dense crumb that’s in stark contrast to the “light and fluffy” cakes that I usually share. This is a heavy cake with a heavy, velvety batter, but there’s nothing dry or crumbly about it. Instead, each bite of this cake is moist and buttery and just melts in your mouth.
Simple as sunrise with just 6 ingredients, flavored with pure vanilla extract and carefully prepared (it’s not difficult to make, but there is some technique involved), this cake is a dream to devour. Let’s go over some of the basics for making this pound cake recipe.
What are the ingredients for pound cake?
Traditionally, pound cake is made with butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. After many, many taste testing sessions I decided to add vanilla extract and salt, as well.
If you’ve read my post on salted vs unsalted butter, you already know that I generally like to use unsalted butter in my recipes and then add salt in order to have the most control over the flavor of my cakes, and a splash of vanilla in the batter was pretty much a no brainer for the best flavor.
Why do they call it pound cake?
This cake was originally made with a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, and so the name pound cake was born. Crazy stuff, huh? 😉
Can I make this recipe using cake flour?
I know somebody is going to ask me this so I wanted to address this here. Generally I engineer all of my recipes to be made with all-purpose flour and this recipe is no different. However, for those of you who like using cake flour, the answer is yes, you can do a straight 1:1 substitute for cake flour.
This pound cake will turn out just as well; slightly softer, a smidge less dense, but still delicious. I played around with different amounts and different substitutions and finally decided that a 1:1 substitution worked best if you absolutely have your heart set on using cake flour. Personally, I just stick to all-purpose.
How can I tell if my pound cake is finished baking?
Because of its thick batter and the sheer volume of batter, it’s going to take over an hour for your pound cake to finish baking, probably an hour and ten to an hour and fifteen minutes. However, for this pound cake to turn out moist and not dry, the most important thing when baking your pound cake is to make sure that you do NOT over-bake it.
I recommend first making sure your oven is not running hot (I keep two oven thermometers in my oven at all times just to make sure my oven display is telling me the truth) and then checking your cake earlier rather than later. I check my cake at one hour and then return it to the oven in about 5-minute increments until it’s finished baking.
To test if it’s finished, the best method is to use a long wooden skewer (like the kind used for shish-kebabs) as this batter is so thick that a toothpick just won’t cut it. Insert the skewer into your pound cake and check it for moist crumbs.
If you have wet batter on your skewer, your cake needs to bake longer, but if there are a few moist crumbs then it’s time to pull that cake out of the oven! The pound cake is going to continue to bake while it cools, so if you pull out a completely clean skewer from your cake, it’s already at risk of being over-baked and dry, so you want to retrieve your cake from the oven before it hits that point.
Since I mentioned my mom’s recipe earlier, I think that I should mention that this actually isn’t her pound cake recipe, but it will use up egg yolks just as well (with over a dozen hens, using up eggs was always a challenge in our household). Hers strays a bit further from the traditional guidelines that I was trying to adhere to and is technically a “German Gold Pound Cake Recipe” and I’ll probably share that one in time (it’s truly delicious, I overlooked it in the past purely out of misguided prejudice).
How to Make Pound Cake (The Best Pound Cake Recipe)
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The Best Pound Cake Recipe
- Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and generously grease and flour a 10" tube pan. Shake out excess flour and set aside.
- Place your butter in a large bowl (this recipe makes a lot of batter! I recommend using a stand mixer if you have one) and use an electric mixer to beat the butter until it is creamy and smooth.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the sugar. Beat until the ingredients are well combined and light and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes).
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl, combine your eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and salt.
- Use a fork to lightly beat the eggs until egg yolks are broken up and salt and vanilla are incorporated.
- With mixer on low speed, slowly pour egg mixture into your batter, allowing it to gradually become incorporated (don't pour all the egg mixture in at once, if you can't manage a steady stream then add the egg mixture in about 6 parts, allowing each part to become well incorporated before adding more). Once all of the egg mixture is incorporated, pause to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 1-2 minutes.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually, about 1/4 cup at a time, add flour to the batter until all has been added.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl and stir again on medium speed until well-combined and beat for another minute.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared tube pan, use a spatula to smooth the surface of the batter.
- Transfer to 350F (175C) oven and bake for an hour and ten to an hour and fifteen minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or ideally with a few moist crumbs (do NOT over-bake this cake or it will be dry)
- Allow cake to cool for at least 20 minutes then run a knife around the sides of the tube pan and the center.
- Carefully invert pound cake onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving.