Deliciously soft and tender Pound Cake made from scratch. This easy recipe produces a moist cake with a tight crumb and a crisp crust.
I love Pound Cake ❤️
And I especially love this one. My Vanilla Pound Cake is buttery and moist, with a tight, tender crumb and a golden, crisp crust. It’s soft, simple and sweet.
The best part? You only need everyday ingredients to make this beautiful cake.
what is pound cake?
Traditionally, Pound Cake is a plain, dense cake made using only four ingredients: a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of eggs and a pound of flour.
However, there are many different versions today with added ingredients. The result is a heavier cake than perhaps a regular Vanilla Cake, with a tight crumb. It is usually served fresh or even toasted, with cream and berries.
WOW. What a week. After recipe testing Pound Cake after Pound Cake, I finally found the perfect one. I tried all kinds of methods and ingredients, all with varying results. But there was one that stood out from the pack. She’s a beauty.
With her tall crust and soft, but dense crumb, this cake is now one of my favourite things to make and eat.
WHAT I WANTED: I was looking for a tall cake with a tight crumb, that was buttery and dense but also soft and tender – no dry cake here please.
- Test one: I started with a version of my favourite Lemon Bundt Cake recipe. Along with traditional Pound Cake ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs and flour), I also added vanilla, salt, a little bit of baking powder for lift and milk for softness. It was a truly lovely cake. But I wondered, could I make it more moist while still keeping the tight crumb that’s synonymous with Pound Cake?
- Test two: I slightly reduced the amount of flour and halved the baking powder and tried again. The loaf was smaller and drier. Version 1 was better.
- Test three: I tried adding a few extra egg yolks, since they typically add moisture to cakes. The result was a horribly dense and gluey cake. Too much egg.
- Test four: This time, I tried adding more sugar for moisture. But the extra sugar wasn’t needed and instead created a brittle crust on the cake.
- Test five: Here I used buttermilk instead of regular milk. While the cake was good, test one was still better. The buttermilk didn’t make much of a difference in overall softness.
- Test six: I decided to test the OG Pound Cake recipe, using only butter, sugar, eggs and flour. It was small, dense and dry. I was not a fan.
- Test seven: By this time, I had realised the ingredients for version 1 were perfect. But instead of altering the ingredients, I should look twice at the method to create that soft, tender crumb I was craving. So I went back to version 1 but tried making it using the reverse creaming method. It was really good. But it was almost too light and fluffy and reminiscent of regular Butter Cake.
- Test eight + nine: I went back to the original recipe but paid super close attention to creaming the butter and sugar correctly. The result was magical. I made it again to be sure. It was THE ONE.
KEY TAKEAWAYS: This cake needs nothings to add moisture (no extra egg yolks, sugar or buttermilk). The traditional method of creaming the butter and sugar is what gives the cake its rise, its buttery texture and its soft but very tight crumb. More than the ingredients, it’s the method here that will create a beautiful Pound Cake.
- Butter: it’s very important to use softened butter (very soft) for this recipe. Do not use cold butter. You want the butter to be soft so it will easily combine with the sugar. This step is crucial in creating a light and tender cake (rather than being dense and dry). More on this below.
- Caster sugar: I tested this recipe using caster sugar. If you don’t have access to it, use granulated sugar.
- Vanilla extract: Two teaspoons of good quality vanilla extract will elevate your Pound Cake to the next level.
- Eggs: This recipe calls for three large (55 gram) eggs. Make sure they’re at room temperature.
- Plain flour: Use plain flour or all purpose flour for this recipe.
- Baking powder: While traditional Pound Cake recipes don’t use a raising agent, I tested this recipe with and without baking powder and I definitely recommend using it. It helps create a lighter crumb with beautiful height.
- Milk: A little milk also goes a long way in creating a lovely, moist cake.
The key to a soft Pound Cake
Through the recipe testing process, I learnt that the key to creating a soft and tender Pound Cake that’s not dry, is creaming the butter and sugar correctly.
What does creaming the butter and sugar mean?
Like many Butter Cakes or Vanilla Cakes, this recipe begins by creaming together the butter and sugar. This means using an electric mixer to beat the two ingredients together. However, many people will stop when the two ingredients are simply combined.
But creaming the butter and sugar means continuing to beat until the butter turns pale, light and fluffy – almost cream-like. This is what will give you a soft and tender cake. If your butter is lovely and soft to begin with, it won’t take long, just a few minutes on medium speed.
Why is it so important for your butter to be soft?
Creaming the butter and sugar shouldn’t take long. However if your butter is too cold, it will take significantly longer to combine and turn pale and fluffy. You run the risk of over mixing and beating too much air into your mixture.
While I often describe softened butter as ‘room temperature’ in my recipes, I learnt the hard way that room temperature is not soft enough for this recipe.
If it’s winter, you live in a cooler climate, or (like me) you have the air conditioning on, butter that’s been left out for a few hours might not be soft enough. You may need to leave it out overnight.
How to make Pound Cake
- Begin by creaming together your butter, sugar and vanilla using an electric mixer. If you watch closely, you’ll see that in just a minute or two, not only will the two ingredients combine but they will change in colour and texture. Your butter mixture will become pale and creamy – almost a little fluffy. This is the perfect start to your Pound Cake.
- Next, add your eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix on low speed. It’s important for your eggs to also be at room temperature. Sometimes your mixture will curdle or go a little lumpy at this stage, that’s ok.
- Add flour, baking powder and salt and start mixing. Pour in the milk. At this stage your cake batter should be smooth and creamy. Don’t over mix or your cake will be dry.
- Bake Pound Cake for approximately 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. It should rise quite a bit and go golden on top. If your cake is browning too much, cover with aluminium foil at the 50 minute mark. Try not to over bake your Pound Cake so it’s not dry.
Pound Cake is best served fresh on the day it’s made. Cut into thick slices and serve with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries.
You can also lightly toast slices of day-old cake. To maintain freshness, I recommend freezing any leftover cake.
Commonly asked questions
While it is best to let your butter soften naturally, I understand sometimes it’s not possible. You can use a microwave but be very careful. Microwaves don’t heat evenly, so it’s best to use low power (e.g. 50%) and check every 5-10 seconds. You don’t want your butter to be melty!
It is very important that you cream the butter and sugar correctly. Make sure you don’t over measure your flour – I highly recommend using gram measurements over cups. And don’t over bake your cake.
Yes. While I think this Vanilla Pound Cake is perfect, you can use it as a base recipe. Throw in some chocolate chips, some lemon or orange zest, or dried cranberries.
Pound Cake is best eaten on the day it’s made. Store leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature or freeze it to maintain maximum freshness.
More amazing cakes to try
Vanilla Pound Cake with a moist and tender crumb.
- 230 grams (1 cup or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened*
- 200 grams (1 cup) caster sugar or granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 280 grams (2 cups) plain flour or all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) full fat or whole milk, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 170 C (340 F) standard / 150 C (300 F) fan-forced. Grease and line a 9 x 5 baking pan with baking or parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, add butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined and then turn speed up to medium and beat for a further 1-2 minutes or until butter turns pale, creamy and almost fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, and beat briefly to combine – don’t worry if the mixture goes a little bit lumpy at this stage – then scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add flour, baking powder and salt. Start to mix together on a low speed. Add milk. Continue to mix until the cake batter is smooth and creamy (but try not to over mix).
- Pour cake batter into your prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. If your cake is very brown after 50 minutes, loosely cover the top with aluminium foil.
*Butter: it’s very important to use softened butter (very soft) for this recipe. Do not use cold butter. You want the butter to be soft so it will easily combine with the sugar. This step is crucial in creating a light and tender cake (rather than being dense and dry). See below for example when butter and sugar is pale and creamy (known as ‘creaming’).