I’ll be sharing tips and techniques, pound cake troubleshooting ideas as well as cheat codes to help you make perfect, moist pound cakes. This classic pound cake is so easy and fool-proof, you can nail it even if you’re a baking novice!
While this is a lengthy article, you may skip forward to the recipe below if you want. But if you’re looking for tips and tricks to PERFECT your pound cake, then you’re in the right place!
So let’s start at the beginning.
Why is it called a pound cake?
Pound cakes were invented in Europe. They’ve been around since the 1700s, and the phrase was originally used to refer to a four-pound cake. That’s because a traditional pound cake required 1 pound of each of the FOUR components listed below.
As you can notice, a classic pound cake doesn’t rely on any leavening agents to give the cake any lift, or any extra liquid to make the cake moist. As a consequence, the cake was thick and somewhat dry (especially when over-baked).
As pound cakes became increasingly popular throughout history and in various regions of the globe, lighter and more moist variants of the basic pound cake arose. Each region (or country) has their own version of a classic pound cake, incorporating different ratios of the main ingredients, and sometimes including extra liquid and baking powder too.
The first cake I learnt to prepare was a luscious pound cake recipe! I created a variety of pound cake versions for my pound cake troubleshooting article. You can see the results below, and I’ll also assist you in troubleshooting some typical pound cake errors!
Tips to follow for the BEST classic pound cake
Start with good ingredients
It goes without saying, but it’s particularly true with pound cakes. Instead of utilizing generic ingredients, aim to utilize brand names.
When it comes to sugar, make sure to get cane sugar because it has a finer grain than other white sugars (if it doesn’t say cane sugar, then it’s probably beet sugar). It’s much better if you can get pure cane caster sugar (superfine sugar).
When it comes to butter, choose Excellent grade butter. Not margarine, not spreadable butter, but classic butter. I prefer to use unsalted butter, Nevertheless, salted butter may also be used. However, due to the higher water content in salted butter, there’s a higher chance for inconsistent results when using salted butter as well.
When feasible, choose organic, free-range eggs. Nonetheless, fresh eggs should be avoided. Isn’t that a surprise?
Here’s why I like to utilize eggs that are approximately a week old. Fresh eggs have tighter and thicker egg whites, while older eggs have thinner and looser egg whites. These older eggs blend more quickly and readily into the cake mixture, resulting in a pound cake with a lighter mouthfeel and crumb texture. Another reason is that fresh eggs are heavier than older eggs – so 8 fresh large eggs would be way heavier than 1 lb, while 8 older large eggs would be closer to 1 lb.
I like to use unbleached all purpose flour. This is due to the fact that it is more readily accessible.
Nevertheless, cake flour may be substituted. This is a lighter flour with less gluten than all-purpose flour. As a result, the pound cake rises somewhat more and has a more soft texture.
If you use pastry flour, you may replace cake flour for AP flour in a 1:1 – BY WEIGHT ratio (not volume).
Always WEIGH your ingredients, rather than relying on cups.
I am a huge proponent of utilizing a cheap kitchen scale for all of your baking requirements. Baking requires accuracy, and a cheap weighing scale can guarantee consistent baking results every time, saving you a lot of time and money in the long run from botched recipes and lost materials.
When measuring flour, for example, you might possibly receive up to 50% more flour than you planned. OR, if you choose to use cake flour for your classic pound cake instead – 1 cup of cake flour is lighter than AP flour, so you will end up with LESS cake flour than needed for your recipe if you use a cup to measure.
1 cup of conventional sugar weighs LESS than 1 cup of ultra fine sugar when measured using a cup. Again, here is where a measuring scale would come in helpful. If you use too much sugar, you may wind up with a dangerously sweet pound cake.
If you do use cups however…
It’s important to fluff up the flour and sugar in the container, and then scoop the flour and sugar into the measuring cup to the point of overflowing. The extra flour/sugar should next be leveled off using a flat knife. Yet, it would be impossible to ensure regular outcomes in this manner.
If you’re living in the US, Thus 1 stick of butter is 4 oz / 115 g / or 0.5 cup. But, for the rest of the globe, it is recommended to use a measuring scale to measure the butter as well.
Temperature of ingredients
It is essential that all of the components be at room temperature (70-75°F or 20-23°C).
Butter should be softened but not too so. Here’s a crude way of checking if your butter is at the right consistency – Using your finger, form an indentation in the butter. If the butter is too hard to produce an indentation, the butter is too hard. But if the butter does make an indentation, but it doesn’t keep its shape, and the butter around the indentation loses shape, then the butter is too soft (the butter can also be too oily when it’s this soft). If it’s simple to produce an indentation but also holds its shape without distorting any of the butter around it, it’s the right consistency!
In the winter, I take the butter out of the fridge and leave it out overnight. But, in the summer, this may cause the butter to become overly soft. So instead, in the summer, I prefer to cut the butter into table spoon sized pieces and then leave them out to soften for about 30 minutes or so. If the butter gets too soft, then you can simply stick it back in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to let them chill just a little bit.
Butter creams and whips readily at room temperature. This is significant because the butter will integrate air during the creaming/whipping process, which is required for a light pound cake. It cannot contain air while being whipped if it is too cold/hard or too soft/melted.
Eggs should also be left outdoors overnight to reach room temperature. This will also assist the eggs maintain air while being combined.
Flour and sugar should be at room temperature as well. I usually store flour and sugar at room temperature anyway, but if you store flour in the fridge, remember to remove it from the fridge the night before.
How to make Pound cake – Step by step.
Since a traditional pound cake does not depend on baking powder or baking soda to rise, the mixing procedure is critical. This is due to the fact that this traditional pound cake depends significantly on the air that is included during the mixing of butter and sugar, which is then contained by the gluten and eggs during baking.
A basic pound cake requires just FOUR STEPS: melted butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Each step is equally significant. Make sure EACH INGREDIENT HAS BEEN WEIGHED and prepared (and sifted), BEFORE you start making the pound cake.
For ease, I prefer a stand mixer over a hand mixer. To integrate the air, beat the butter and sugar together for a few minutes, and your hands will thank you if you use a stand mixer instead of a hand mixer.
Creaming butter and sugar
The butter must first be stirred for a few minutes (approximately 3 – 7 minutes, depending on ambient temperature and butter temperature). Use the standard mixer attachment in your mixer to do this (not the whip or the dough hook), and this will ensure the incorporation of air in the butter, making it light, fluffy and creamy. Another blunder to avoid is speeding up the process using the stand mixer. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS! The rapid speed might quickly knock the air out. Now, set the mixer on medium speed and gently but steadily let the air in!
The sugar is added when the butter has become frothy. Be cautious not to pour in all of the sugar at once. Because of the weight of the sugar, the butter may deflate, which is NOT GOOD. Thus, while the stand mixer is working, add the sugar in a thin, steady stream. This will assist to evenly cream the butter and sugar, adding more air rather than knocking it out.
For a few minutes, the butter and sugar are also creamed together. This is for two reasons – one, to incorporate more air and two, to dissolve the sugar. This is why I choose caster sugar, which dissolves considerably more quickly. The sugar may not need to be entirely dissolved before adding the eggs, but it must be totally dissolved once they are added. If you’re using regular cane sugar, you can whiz the sugar separately in a food processor for a few seconds to make it finer, if you like.
The next important step is the addition of eggs. The same principle as earlier of not weighing down the batter by adding all the eggs in at once, applies here too. There are TWO methods to do this.
- In a jug, lightly whisk all of the eggs, then add the eggs gently in a stream, with a few pauses in between.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
Both procedures are effective, but I prefer the second option for ease of use. I usually break an egg into a small bowl beforehand and add it to the stand mixer while it is running. I mix in the eggs for around 20 – 30 seconds, or until the yolk is gone, before adding the next egg.
It is also critical not to over-beat the eggs in the batter. If the eggs are over-beaten, the cake WILL COLLAPSE AFTER BAKING!
Instead of using entire eggs, some recipes call for extra egg yolks. IF YOU PREFER, SUBSTITUTE TWO WHOLE EGGS WITH FOUR YOLKS. This will result in a cake that is richer in taste and more moist. The cake will also have a deeper golden tint.
But, keep in mind that egg whites lend lift to the cake while egg yolks offer richness. Some people prefer to use egg yolks since egg whites, although giving volume and lift to the cake, may also dry it out.
CHEAT NOTE 1 – To make a moister and richer-tasting pound cake, replace two of the whole eggs in the recipe with four egg yolks.
CHEAT NOTE 2 – I would also add 1 tsp of baking powder IF I substitute 2 eggs with FOUR EGG YOLKS. This is done to make up for the absence of egg whites.
When adding the flour to the cake, make sure it is sifted. It’s especially nicer if you can sift it TWICE before putting it to the cake, but this isn’t required. This is done to limit the possibility of flour lumps developing when mixing the flour.
If you can integrate the flour using a baking spatula, go for it! Folding in the wheat by hand (spoon) ensures that the gluten in the flour is not overworked.
If you do use your stand mixer , utilize the stand mixer’s lowest speed for the shortest length of time.
If the gluten is overworked, the pound cake will be stiffer and denser. This is NOT good. Another way to avoid this is to use cake flour instead of AP flour.
CHEAT NOTE – CAKE FLOUR can be substituted for AP flour because it’ll give a lighter texture to your pound cake. This will also cause your cake to rise more in the oven.
CHEAT NOTE – If you’re concerned that your cake wasn’t well beaten, you May add just a little of baking powder to ensure that your pound cake rises correctly. I ONLY do this if I use a hand mixer to mix my pound cake batter, because I know that then there’s a chance that I may not have incorporated enough air.
Baking the Cake
ACCURATE OVEN TEMPERATURE is important. It would be fantastic if you know your oven is correctly calibrated. You may accomplish this by inserting an oven temperature reader into your oven and comparing the temperature indicated on your oven to that of the reader. If your oven is not calibrated, you may alter the baking temperature depending on how well your pound cake comes out on the first try.
If the cake is too dry, The oven is too hot, and you should reduce the temperature OR take the cake from the oven early. If the cake is not done by 70 minutes, The oven temperature must be raised or the cake must be baked for a longer period of time.
Additionally, be sure to PREHEAT THE OVEN for 10 – 15 MINUTES BEFORE INSERTING YOUR CAKE. This way a stable oven temp. is guaranteed.
The baking pans you use might also affect the baking time. The baking time will be reduced if you use glass cake pans or dark metal pans. If you’re using a light baking pan, then this recipe will be accurate, because I used a light baking pan as well.
This traditional pound cake recipe called for two 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pans. You can adapt this to make the cake in two 9.5 x 5.5 inch loaf pans, but be mindful to check on the cake earlier, as it will bake faster.
The end product is a deliciously buttery, moist, traditional pound cake! The crumb is tight and together, but not dense or gummy – it’s buttery and soft and just so addictively delicious!
Classic Pound Cake serving ideas
This traditional pound cake may be enjoyed in SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS! Serve it alone or with different toppings to create easy yet tasty desserts. Look at these inventive ways to serve this traditional delicious pound cake.
- Cream and berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or any other type of berry)
- Banana and butterscotch sauce – this would taste like bananas foster , but with cake!
- Hazelnut chocolate spread or chocolate sauce! Who doesn’t love cake and chocolate (or Nutella) together?
- Whipped cream and almonds or praline – to intensify the nutty taste, flavor your cake with nut flavoring as well (almond, toasted coconut, pistachios, or peanuts)
- Lemon glaze or lemon curd – a tart and refreshing variation on your delicious pound cake! Cover the cake with lemon glaze or drizzle it over cake pieces. You may also serve it with lemon curd or any other citrus curd.
- Whipped cream and Kahlua – THIS IS MY FAVORITE! That tastes just like tiramisu! A shot of kahlua (or any other sweet liqueur that you like) poured over a cake slice, and then topped with whipped cream or ice cream. An unbeatable alternative for grownups!
Baking a traditional pound cake is a satisfying experience! I hope this long essay has helped you understand how to make a traditional moist pound cake and why each step is crucial. It’ll help you master the art of making classic pound cakes and then add your own personal touch to make the recipe even more versatile!
Pound cake comparisons
Pound cake troubleshooting
Why is my cake so dense and heavy?
It’s possible that not enough air was mixed into the butter and sugar. This could be because the creaming time wasn’t long enough, or because the sugar, eggs or flour were incorporated too quickly.
Solution – Cream the butter until it is light and creamy, then add the sugar in a thin stream. Add the eggs one by one, or in a stream. In batches, add the flour.
The gluten in the flour was overworked, causing the gluten to make the cake too heavy and too dense. To combine the flour, use as little power as possible.
Solution – Fold in the flour in batches with a spatula, or use the shortest amount of time with your stand mixer on the lowest speed to mix in the flour.
Check that the flour is well combined as well, as dry flour streaks might result in a sticky pound cake.
Use cake flour instead of AP flour.
Why is my pound cake dense and really dry?
Pound cake IS SUPPOSED to be thick. But it’s not supposed to feel heavy or dry. If it’s dry, it’s possible that the cake was overbaked. The cake can also be too dry if you added too much flour (or not enough butter or sugar).
You can try lowering the oven temperature.
Or remove the cake from the oven a little earlier.
Instead, follow the recipe precisely, without adding more flour or lowering the quantity of sugar or butter.
Why does my pound cake have a very tough crust?
This is frequently caused by a high oven temperature. Then the crust cooks a lot faster than the inside of the cake, creating a tough crust and a soft middle.
Reduce the oven temperature and bake the pound cake for a longer period of time.
It also helps to use a light-colored loaf pan rather than a dark loaf pan.
Why does my pound cake have gummy streaks?
The butter and sugar were creamed much too quickly and thoroughly! The cake rises, and then collapses while cooling, causing the cake to have dense, gummy (or gluey) spots.
DON’T increase the speed of your mixer beyond medium speed. After adding the flour, reduce the speed to the lowest level (or fold in the flour by hand).
After baking, my pound cake shell split from the cake.
The air in the eggs will cause the cake to rise if you over-beat the eggs. That will result in a crust that rises higher than the cake (the same way that eggs can create a crust in brownies, they can create a crust in cakes as well). However, since the rest of the cake did not rise as much (since there is no baking powder etc), the crust will fall as the cake cools down, creating a wrinkled cake crust.
Make careful to only beat the eggs until they are fully incorporated. If you beat each egg for more than a minute each time, you may run into this issue.
My pound cake crust has little spots on it
These are crystals of sugar. As the cake is baking, the unmelted sugar crystals melt with the heat of the oven, causing little spots to appear on the cake crust.
Employ finer-grained cane sugar than granulated white sugar.
Caster sugar (superfine sugar, not confectioner’s sugar) is much better.
If you can’t find caster sugar, you can process the sugar for a few seconds (a few pulses) in your food processor to turn them super fine. If you’re using measuring cups, be sure you WEIGH THE SUGAR PRIOR TO PUTTING IT IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR (super fine sugar measures differently than granulated sugar when using cups)
My pound cake sunk in the middle
Unless the cake was underbaked or additional liquid was added, this traditional pound cake should not sink in the centre.
If you’re using salted butter, try making the cake using unsalted butter instead, and leave out any additional extra liquids (if you added milk for example)
Bake the cake for longer.
My cake poured out of the cake pan (8 x 4 inch loaf pan)
If you over-beat the eggs, over-beat the butter and sugar, or use too much baking powder, the cake will rise too much and spill over the sides of the pan.
Decrease the mixing time and avoid combining the components on high speed.
If you want to use baking powder, use a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan rather than an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.
Classic Pound Cake
Yield: Makes two 8.5 x 4.5 inch cakes.
Cuisine: American, European
Traditional Pound Cake – A detailed guide to making beautiful, delectable Pound Cake! Tips + Tricks and Troubleshooting guide.
EASY – This recipe is easy to make with this detailed recipe guide. Make sure to read the recipe and the text to understand how each step should look. That is a sophisticated recipe, yet it is simple to execute.
Prep: 35 minutes
Cooling in Pan: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: –+ servings
- 1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature (4 sticks of butter)
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 1 lb cane sugar or caster sugar (about 2 ¼ cups)
- 8 large eggs 1 lb of eggs, with shell on
- 14 ounce AP flour or cake flour (about 3 14 cup AP flour)
- 1 tsp baking powder (optional)
- 2 tsp excellent grade vanilla extract (optional: almond extract or other flavor extract)
- Grease two 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pans and flour the insides of the pans to coat. Remove any extra flour. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 325°F/170°C.
- Weigh out all the ingredients and keep them close at hand. Sieve the flour into a basin and put aside.
- Optional step – If you’re using granulated cane sugar, pulse it a few times in a food processor to create a finer sugar texture.
- Place the mixing bowl in your stand mixer with the beater attachment and remove it from the weighing scale.
- Place the softened butter and salt in the bowl and cream the butter until light, creamy and fluffy (between 3 – 7 minutes), at medium speed (speed 4 – 5 on a kitchen aid mixer). Scrape the sides and bottom of the basin to ensure that all of the butter is collected.
- WHILE the butter is being mixed, add the sugar in a thin, steady stream (you can also add the sugar tablespoon at a time as well). It should take approximately 1 min to incorporate the sugar into the butter. To ensure that the sugar is uniformly combined, stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Beat the butter and sugar together for another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Crack an egg into a small basin and remove any egg shells. Break the egg yolk, then slowly pour it into the butter-sugar mixture. Mix for about 20 – 30 seconds until the egg has incorporated into the batter, and there are no traces of egg yolk. Rep with the second egg. Stop the mixer after 2 eggs have been blended into the batter and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Continue with the remainder of the eggs, being sure to scrape the sides and bottom as you go (I do this after every 2 eggs that I add) (I do this after every 2 eggs that I add).
- After all of the eggs have been incorporated, add the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds to 1 minute more.
Mixing in the flour by hand – You will need a long-handled baking spatula to fold the flour into the batter
- Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer and stop the machine. 14 of the flour should be sifted over the batter. Fold the flour into the batter, while rotating the bowl after each fold, until the flour is just incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour three times more, being sure to include all of the flour when folding it into the batter (rather than vigorous mixing). This will result in a smooth cake batter.
- Make sure there are no dry flour particles in your batter.
Mixing in the flour with a stand mixer
- Lower the stand mixer’s speed to the lowest level (stir speed in a kitchen aid mixer).
- Add ¼ of the sifted flour into the batter, and mix for a few seconds until just incorporated. Revised with three additional additions. Following the last addition, simply stir the batter until it is smooth. Quit right away.
Baking the pound cakes
- Fill the bottom of each loaf pan with an equal quantity of batter. Spread the batter evenly to the pan’s corners using an offset spatula. Pour the remaining batter (equally divided between the two loaf pans) into the loaf pans. Spread evenly on top to create a uniform surface. Gently shake the pans (just a little) to make sure the batter is evenly spread (don’t knock the cake pans on the counter!).
- Place the loaf pans in the oven (ideally in the lower third of the oven, and right in the center of the oven rack). Set the clock to 40 minutes. Bake for another 20 minutes after rotating the cake pans after 40 minutes.
- After 60 minutes of baking time, use a clean toothpick or a cake tester to verify the doneness of the cake. Put a cake tester into the cake; if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. These cakes cooked in my oven for around 67-70 minutes.
- Let the cakes to cool for 10 – 15 minutes after they have been removed from the oven. Carefully turn thee cakes out onto a cooling wire rack to cool down completely.
- Eat warm, or at room temperature.
How to store Pound Cake
- After the cake is at room temperature, cover it tightly in plastic wrap and keep it in an airtight container for up to a week. If the cake isn’t wrapped properly, it can become stale, BUT stale pound cake will taste even better when toasted or grilled.
- Alternatively you may cover the cake in plastic wrap and foil and freeze it for up to 3 months.
Tips & Tricks
OPTIONAL STEPS TO ENSURE EVEN DIVIDING OF THE BATTER BETWEEN TWO PANS
- BEFORE ADDING BUTTER TO THE MIXING BOWL, set the empty mixing bowl on a weighing scale and record the weight of the bowl (this is optional, but helps to evenly distribute the cake batter between the pans later).
- When the cake batter is made, scrape any batter off of the spatula and remove the spatula from the bowl. Then measure the weight of the bowl + batter, and subtract the weight of the bowl from the value. This is the batter’s weight. Divide this figure by two to obtain the amount you should put in each loaf pan (this further helps get PERFECT, evenly baked pound cakes).
Using different sized pans
- If you’re using two 9.5 inch x 5.5 inch pans, check on the cakes after 45 – 50 minutes. This is due to the fact that this cake cooks more quicker in larger pans.
- Bundt cake pan – this recipe is enough for 1 large bundt cake. After 50 minutes of baking, keep an eye on the cake.
– To make a moister and richer-tasting pound cake, replace two of the eggs in the recipe with four egg yolks.
– If I swapped two eggs for FOUR EGG YOLKS, I would add 1 tsp baking powder.
– CAKE FLOUR may be used in place of AP flour to make a lighter-textured pound cake. But this will make your cake rise more in the oven too.
– If you’re worried that your cake wasn’t beaten enough, you CAN add just the smallest amount of baking powder to make sure your pound cake rises properly. I only do this if I make my pound cake mixture with a manual mixer, since there’s a risk I didn’t integrate enough air.
300 kilocalories (15%) 34g (11% carbohydrate) 4g protein (8%) Fat: 18g (28%) 11g Saturated Fat (69%) Cholesterol level: 103mg (34%). Sodium content: 78mg (3%) 46mg potassium (1%) 20g (22%) sugar 600 IU of vitamin A (12%) 17mg calcium (2%) 1.1mg (6%) iron
“This website offers estimated nutrition facts only for convenience and as a service. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”