What Is a Pound Cake?
A pound cake is a cake that gets its name from the ratio of simple ingredients in its traditional recipe: A pound each of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. Bakers typically use Bundt or loaf pans as vessels for baking pound cakes, which give the classic dessert its signature density. You can incorporate any additional ingredients, flavorings, or toppings (such as powdered sugar or icing) to enhance the dense cake. Modern pound cakes typically feature less than a pound of any given ingredient, but the ratios are still reasonably equal.
6 Tips for Baking Pound Cake
The perfect pound cake is dense with a pleasant, springy texture and a smooth, buttery crumb. To perfectly execute that balance, keep these tips in mind:
- Use fresh ingredients. When making a lemon pound cake, fresh lemon zest will always taste zingier than lemon extract; carefully folding in fresh fruit, like raspberries or blueberries, instead of frozen, will release less moisture as the cake bakes.
- Use a scale. It’s essential to measure all of your ingredients using a digital kitchen scale instead of eyeballing or casually scooping flour without leveling the top. A difference of a few grams can change the cake’s texture; a scale simplifies things and takes away any guesswork.
- Bring ingredients to room temperature. Bringing eggs, butter, and any other dairy-based ingredients to room temperature before the mixing process makes them easier to emulsify, resulting in a cake with an even interior texture. Take perishable ingredients out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you begin baking.
- Add dairy. Adding sour cream, Greek yogurt, or buttermilk to your pound cake recipe guarantees a moist cake without weighing down the crumb, plus the live cultures in these products provide a more nuanced flavor and longer shelf life.
- Avoid overmixing. Overmixing leads to a stiff, heavy cake. When combining the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, fold them together by hand to ensure the batter stays light.
- Bake at a lower temperature. Pound cake takes longer to bake than many other types of cakes because of its dairy content. You can bake a pound cake in a loaf pan at 350° Fahrenheit, but you’ll need to lower the temperature to 325° Fahrenheit and extend the bake time when baking in a Bundt pan. The baking process for pound cake is typically around an hour. After the 60-minute mark, check your cake every few minutes to avoid overbaking.
Classic Pound Cake Recipe
Makes1 loaf; double the recipe for Bundt cake
Prep Time20 min
Total Time1 hr 25 min
Cook Time1 hr 5 min
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (for a finer crumb, use cake flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup sour cream, Greek yogurt, or buttermilk
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9–inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper, allowing it to hang over the sides.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add your dairy of choice, and mix until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
- Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
- Transfer the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients, fold them together with a spatula. Avoid overmixing.
- Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake for about 60 minutes, until the cake is puffed and golden brown. Insert a toothpick or skewer into the center. If the toothpick comes out clean, remove it from the oven.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan before transferring it onto a cooling rack.
- You can store pound cake in an airtight container or wrap it in plastic wrap.
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