Traditional Pound Cake Recipe
Traditional Pound Cake: old-fashioned, moist, and so easy to make with just 6 simple ingredients. A butter-y classic that will make you swoon!Sometimes simple is all you need. There’s just something so delicious about a perfect slice of pound cake, moist and delicate, and so buttery it melts in your mouth. It’s the best! I have a few pound cake recipes on this site (see Lemon Pound Cake, Marble Bundt Cake, and Brown Sugar Pound Cake), and every time I make a new one I fall in love with pound cake all over again!
WHAT IS POUND CAKE?Pound cake is a simple butter cake that cooks have been making and sharing for generations. It’s old-fashioned and so, so good. It’s called pound cake because originally, it was made with a pound of flour, a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, and a pound of eggs. Over the generations, that ratio has been modified a bit for the best possible result. Pound cake is buttery and moist, with a fine, delicate crumb, and a crackly, crumbly crust on top that’s almost like a sugar cookie. Because there are so few ingredients, it’s really easy to make.
HOW TO MAKE POUND CAKEWhen you’re making something as simple as pound cake, it really becomes all about the technique. The number one most important thing is to cream the butter and sugar until they are SUPER fluffy and pale. The mixture should double in volume and look almost white. Give it at least 5 full minutes on medium-high speed. Next, add the eggs, one at a time. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of your mixing bowl with a silicone spatula, so you know everything is well incorporated. Add the flour in 3 additions, taking care to only mix until *just barely* combined. Once the flour goes in, you want to be really careful not to overwork the batter, or your cake could come out tough. I like to use cake flour when I make pound cake. You can read more about that here: Why Use Cake Flour?. Finally, the vanilla and salt get mixed in. These ingredients bring all the flavors into perfect balance.
DOES POUND CAKE RISE?You may notice this recipe has no baking powder or baking soda. This might seem strange for a cake recipe, but I promise it’s not a mistake! Traditionally, pound cake is made without any chemical leavening. It gets all its “lift” from that first, all-important stage of the recipe: creaming the butter and sugar together. This step incorporates lots of air so the cake comes out nice and light. When you bake your pound cake, you’ll notice it does rise in the oven. As everything heats up, it expands. It may fall a little bit as it cools, but it shouldn’t completely cave in. If this happens to you, it’s probably because you didn’t bake it quite long enough. When a cake is under-baked, it will fall as it cools because the structure is weak and not fully set.
WHAT KIND OF PAN CAN POUND CAKE BE BAKED IN?This pound cake recipe can be baked in a 10-cup bundt pan or tube pan. You can also bake it in two 9-inch diameter cake pans. Or, you can halve it and bake it in a 5-cup loaf pan. Just keep in mind that any time a cake recipe is made in a different sized pan, the bake time needs to be adjusted. Smaller or thinner cakes need less time to bake than bigger, thicker cakes do. You’ll know your pound cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
CAN POUND CAKE BE GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, OR VEGAN?You can make a gluten-free version of this traditional pound cake recipe, just by subbing the cake flour for a gluten-free flour blend. Make sure the product you’re using can substitute 1:1 for regular flour. Here are a few good options:
- King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
- Cup4Cup Multi-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
WHAT TO SERVE WITH POUND CAKEOne of my favorite things about pound cake is how versatile it can be. For the pictures and video you see here, I kept things simple and just gave it a little powdered sugar and a dollop of soft whipped cream. But you can top this pound cake in all sorts of ways! Try it with peaches, berries, or any kind of fresh fruit. Or, drizzle it with caramel or chocolate sauce. You can even make strawberry shortcake with it. Or, cut it into bite-sized pieces, and layer it into a trifle. The possibilities are limitless!
HOW TO STORE POUND CAKEThis pound cake will keep at room temperature for around 4 or 5 days. Just keep it tightly wrapped so it doesn’t become dry or stale. You can prolong the shelf life by keeping it in the refrigerator. It should last a week to 10 days, chilled. Or you can freeze it. Pound cake keeps very well frozen. Wrap it tightly, seal it in a zip-top bag, and keep it in the freezer for a couple of months. Thaw it in the fridge or at room temperature, slice, and serve!
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Traditional Pound Cake Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and mist a 10-inch tube pan generously with non-stick spray.
- Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and cream together on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy (at least 5 minutes).
- Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing each one to incorporate before adding the next.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, then add the flour, a cup at a time, mixing until just barely combined.
- Fold in the vanilla and salt, and transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
- Bake until a skewer inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs (approx. 75 to 85 minutes).
- Cool for 30 minutes, then remove from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.