lighter, airy pound cake

Old-school pound cakes come with their own easily-remembered formula (a pound of butter to a pound of sugar, eggs and flour) with leavening only coming from the air one whips into the batter. But just because it’s the classic way to do it, doesn’t mean mean I don’t think most pound cakes need a little extra creativity to keep them from becoming foamy, forgettable bricks. You can swap out some of the butter for cream cheese, as I do in my favorite non-traditional pound cake recipe, you can add loads of lemon, baking powder, baking soda and buttermilk, rendering something that is impossibly delicious but really, a pound cake in name only, or you can do as James Beard does, and apply smart cake-baking techniques to improve the predictable.

sifting sifting sifting
sifted sifted

What drew me to this version from Beard that I’d bookmarked some time back was the subtle tweaks he’d made to the classic recipe: a little bit of baking powder, slightly less sugar and the real stroke of smarty-pants insight, separated eggs with the whites whipped so that they can add a volume and lightness old-school pound cakes lack. (What’s good for pancakes is even better for cakes.) Oh, and the fact that he flavors it not with vanilla extract, as most American chefs would, but with a shot of cognac and some lemon zest, my my. I had to find out.

whipping egg whites

ready to bake

As should go without saying, that Beard guy really knows how to cook. This is a great riff on the standard pound cake, and for me, it could not be more timely. Pound cakes are ideal summer food: they sop up berry coulis and fruit compotes, they make excellent bookends for a slab of ice cream and even better beds for brown sugar-topped grilled peach halves or rum-doused pineapple slices. Fact is, with a few pieces of whatever fruit is looking good that week and one of these tightly-wrapped in your freezer, you’ll always be able to throw together dessert quickly.

[And should the head cold terrible I woke up with this morning — or what feels cruelty beyond compare when one is already hosting a five-pound “condition” that precludes the use of sweet, sinus-clearing drugs — choose to beat a hasty retreat, I hope to have a new fun pound cake thing to share with you before the weekend is out.]

pound cake

One year ago: Napa Cabbage Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. My mother told me yesterday she’d picked up a napa cabbage at the market and I was all “you must make this salad! Must! Immediately! Gosh, I’m hungry again.” You see, I feel very strongly about this salad.

Two year ago: Summer Berry Pudding

Lighter, Airy Pound Cake
Adapted from James Beard’s Beard on Food

The brilliance of this pound cake is all of the things that have been done to make it airier than a standard pound cake: the repeated sifting, the whipped egg whites and a little extra help from baking powder. Oh, and the cognac-lemon combination? Delightful. You’ve got to try it.

The original recipe is double this size, and can be baked in a buttered and floured tube or bundt pan; it should bake for about an hour. I added the weights of most of the ingredients, something I am trying to remember to do more often.

Makes one loaf cake

1/2 pound (2 sticks or 8 ounces or 226 grams) butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) baking powder
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (186 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon Cognac [brandy works as well, as does rum, as would one teaspoon of an extract of your choice]
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan. Sift the flour onto waxed paper and then spoon it gently back into the sifter, adding the baking powder and a good pinch of salt. Sift the mixture twice more, each time spooning it lightly into the sifter. [I know what you must be thinking: Beard expect me to sift my dry ingredients three times? But oh, it lends to the most delicate, light crumb and texture. Don’t skimp!]

2. Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks and then gradually beat in 1/2 cup (100 grams) of the sugar, two tablespoons at a time. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Fit the electric mixer with a paddle attachment and cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the remaining six tablespoons (86 grams) of sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks until light and lemon-colored and then add the Cognac and zest.

4. Gradually fold the sifted flour mixture into the butter-egg mixture. Fold in the beaten egg whites just until the batter is smooth. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick pierced in the center comes up clean. Cool in pan ten minutes on a rack, then cool the rest of the way out of the pan.

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198 comments on lighter, airy pound cake

  1. This looks like a much better recipe than the one I have been using. I look forward to trying it topped with fresh, wild berries from the hillside. Do you have any suggestions for fresh-fruit toppings or side-dressings for this delicious cake? Blackberries are coming into season now, and blueberries are ripe.
    Thank you for the cake!

  2. MBT

    I can’t tell if you’re still sick or have gotten better – I’m sick with that horrible horrible cold and therefore can’t read, but I hope you get better if you’re sick!

    Any idea on something to eat that will make me feel better that does not include making my apartment a quarter of a degree more hot or more humid (!!!!!!!)?

  3. well congratulations – you’ve just made your first dominican cake! LOL Lovely recipe and pretty much the difference between regular cake and dominican birthday cake. The beating of the whites to be folded in, sometimes the lemon zest, most times vanilla but some may shoot in some run and plenty of eggs/butter/sugar for a stand-the-spoon-up batter. Looks very yummy and you got a great crust on it.

  4. I will be passing this recipe on to my mom, who loves pound cake and always seems to have trouble with the regular kind drying out. Thanks! Hope you feel better… terrible to be sick and pregnant.

  5. Deb- This looks great! Ooh and cognanc! MUST TRY.
    When I first saw this on flickr, I thought you were whipping cream to put in the cake batter. But that’s because I just read the beginning of BakeWise, and Shirley Corriher raves about a pound cake with whipped cream (that she discovered via chef Heather Hurlbert). But I love anything with beaten egg whites!

  6. Nida

    This cake looks awesome. My mom makes pound cakes but they’re too sugary/dense for my liking so I’ll make this next time she’s hankering for a slice.

  7. PERFECT. My bf’s parents are visiting next week, and while I’ve got the menu more or less planned I was freaking out about dessert. This, plus some fresh market peaches and a little whipped cream… and Deb, once again, to the rescue. Thanks!

  8. I love Beard on Food and think it is among the best pieces of food writing out there. The guy is a genius with all things edible. I have been slowly working my way through the book and had not run across this recipe yet. Now I can’t wait to give it a try! Looks marvelous. Hope you feel better very soon!

  9. I have never made a pound cake before, and now I really, really want to. What’s so bad about consuming pounds of things that are oh so delicious yet oh so bad for you? Nothing, that’s what!

  10. Christy

    Yum! I think I’ll sub a little shredded coconut for the lemon zest (I am a philistine and despise citrusy breads and cakes).

  11. Dan

    Your post about making pound cake brings back memories of my grandmother cooking me dinner back on her farm. If she was going to make a cake it was going to be a pound cake. For some reason she just never went for any other more traditional style. But, her skills in the kitchen were excellent. Maybe it had something to do with her 70+ years of experience.

  12. this one sounds really good. separating the eggs is a great idea. last weekend, i made julia child’s chocolate mousse and it was divine. this, also involved separate egg beating, it’s totally worth it. it is sooooo gooooood…

    i’m glad you’re still poking about in the kitchen! aren’t you tired??

  13. I love pound cakes because of all the yummy things you can top them with – your strawberry sauce sounds perfect. Chocolate sauce w/ toasted coconut is my go to because it is so easy….oh no I just hit my afternoon work wall and need to go get a treat!

  14. Susan

    Since I failed at genoise, I have been leary of whipped egg whites in cakes. But, since this is a pound cake, of sorts, I think it will be a little more forgiving. Yes? No?

    Hope you feel better soon. For what it’s worth..The one thing I did take away from being sick while pregnant is that I found I really didn’t feel that much worse without taking the usual medication that is supposed to relieve the symptoms. I haven’t used cold remedies since..25 years now! Or, maybe I just don’t get that sick anymore..whatever.

  15. You had me at cognac. It looks delicious, sounds heavenly and will be making an appearance in my house soon. Rum-soaked peaches with cognac pound cake for the one with the bun in the oven? I think we all know what you miss most with that growing belly. :)

  16. Kelsey

    I’ve heard that you can improvise cake flour by sifting all purpose flour 3 times. I wonder if the reverse is true; does this mean you could use cake flour in this recipe in place of sifting 3 times? hm. It would make it way easier :)

  17. izn

    i really *love* your recipes, but i’m writing to thank you for converting cups in european measures: i was going crazy to understand before that, also with your useful conversions page. thank you a lot from italy :-)

  18. Jean Marie

    Thank you for a pound cake recipe that actually is made to fit in a loaf pan! I’ve made too many that overflowed in the oven and have big marks on the recipe “Do in Bundt pan!!!!” Sometimes, you really just want a regular size pound cake and this sounds perfect – along with some fresh peaches. yum.

  19. I’ve been lurking around your site for a few months. Have tried the “Key Lime Coconut Cake,” (yum) as well as a few others.

    Thanks for all your input on the pound cake. I’ve been battling getting one of these things right for a couple of years.

    One question, I don’t own a standup mixer, just a little hand held, so when the recipe (or any recipe for that matter) calls for a paddle attachment to cream sugar and butter, does it matter? I’m hoping to get one for Christmas (unless providence blows my way and I win one from PW), but just wondering if it matters with the paddle, etc.?

  20. How wonderful. I actually make my very first pound cake on Monday. It was probably more firm and dry than I would like. I will definitely try this one next time. Sounds absolutely perfect. And from James Beard? How can you go wrong?

  21. So many cake recipes can benefit from separating the eggs–never thought to try it with a pound cake, though! Oh, that James, always making me smack myself in the forehead.

    I was going to make a sorbet with the strawberries that are at the tipping point in the fridge, but now I think I’m going to have to sauce ’em up and bake a pound cake for them to lie upon instead. Woo-hoo!

  22. Pound cake is (my) Alex’s favorite kind of cake. I’m going to give it a try when it’s not so hot outside/inside. Except, he likes his pound cake dense…maybe, just maybe the lemon zest and cognac will convince him of the merits of more chiffon-like cakes.

  23. This look fabulous… one thing Deb: can you tell me why America doesn’t have self-raising flour? Or if you do, what is it called?

    Also… does anyone else think it’s a riot that your ad below all these great recipes is for weight loss?? Are they kidding?

    1. deb

      Bush Babe — Not sure why you think the U.S. doesn’t have self-raising flour. It’s available in many grocery stores, but I don’t think it is as widely used. It only contains one level of baking powder — some cakes use more or less, so using regular flour and adding your own leaveners gives bakers more control.

      And yes, the ads today have been particularly ridiculous.

  24. Rebecca

    If you want to clear your sinuses without taking any medication, try eating really spicy food. I find that anything with cayenne pepper or wasabi does the trick.

  25. Heather

    Love your site! I check in every day…yes i know, my husband has informed me that this is not normal!

    BTW be careful with that “head cold” dear, it could be a sign that labor is on the way!

  26. mmmm! looks great.
    i love eating them with ice cream & fruits.
    most recipes ive tried are not light and airy like i prefer them.
    will try this recipe out.
    thanks! :)

  27. Linda Y

    i truly cannot wait to try this recipe out! do you think it would freeze well? thanks
    btw: i love everthing about your site…:)

  28. Mmmm, this looks yummy… It’s taking everything I’ve got to NOT go in the kitchen and try making it right now!
    Great site – I’ll be back for more! (Maybe not at night time when I shouldn’t be snacking ;-)

  29. You are killing me with this cake.

    From one pg lady to another, neti pot and a personal steam inhaler (vicks makes it?) do wonders. I’ve been pg or nursing for almost 4 yrs and haven’t taken any cold or sinus meds at all. Haven’t missed em since i started these alt. remedies. Good luck and no matter how u cope, feel better!

  30. Samantha Spaulding

    Looks fantastic – I’m totally making it…just have to come up with the for what part…hehe

    when I was pregnant my Dr told me I could take plain sudafed. I had the worst cold in the history of me for about 3 weeks…and then I had her and it went away. Crazy I tell ya.

    Hope you feel better soon!

  31. You know, I never appreciated pound cake until the day I made one at culinary school (I’m a cooking school student). It was extraordinary: Light and airy and tasty and, well, just wonderful.

    Everyone should make a good pound cake; it’s a thing of beauty.


  32. Symphonic Chef

    Deb, this looks amazing. I am a total fan of your baking projects (made your “classic brownies” the other day and they are DIVINE). Could you answer Kelsey’s question about flour sifting? (# 36) I am always scared of measuring flour properly since I know that you can get all sorts of variation depending on how much you do or don’t sift/ fluff flour before measuring. When a recipe calls for a cup of flour, does that usually mean fluffed with a fork, but not sifted? Thanks!! And feel better soon.

    1. deb

      Kelsey, Symphonic Chef — No, that is not how I understand cake flour is created. It may work in recipes but to actually make cake flour, you are supposed to swap out two tablespoons of each cup of regular flour with cornstarch, sift it a few times and measure your “cake flour” from that sifted mixture. The idea of cake flour is that it has a lower protein content than regular or all-purpose flour, hence the replacing of some of the flour with something protein-free (or virtually protein-free). It can certainly be used in this recipe. Cake flour, whether you buy it in a box or make it as I explained above, is already sifted but it will not hurt to do so one more time. Hope that helps.

      monikab — I haven’t found a perfect tres leches recipe yet, but I’d love to. Good luck!

      Cold suggestions — Thanks! I’m waiting for my doc to let me know if there is something more aggressive I can take. I got a cold when I was early in the first trimester that took 10 days to shake — I am so not up for that this time, needless to say.

  33. Thanks for the answer Deb – I just haven’t noticed SR flour used in any US recipes I guess. Aussies must be much lazier (we like to say ‘laid back’!) as it’s in almost EVERY cake recipe here.

    Love your work! And do that vicks inhalation for the cold – worked for me.

  34. Charlene

    Deb, you should be able to use a saline nasal spray, but do ask your doctor. It really does help with head colds and sinusitis. I’ve also heard those neti pots are great. Hope you feel better soon!

  35. monikab

    1. my 13year old daughter is deliriously happy, loves pound cake more than anything;
    2. nasal spray/saline rinse YES — especially when the wee one grows and starts getting daily exposure to all sorts of nasty rhinoviruses which he/she may be immune to but attack your tender membranes with a vengeance — preventative with a capital P (also liquid b vitamins)…
    3. thinking about trying a Tres Leches cake for my mexican bbq tomorrow night, any suggestions? (no flan for me)
    4. i love your site

  36. Looks delicious! I’m making your jacked-up-Banana-Bread tonight! However, I’m putting choppd pecans in it, using Rum in it and putting a crumb topping on it like you have in your strawberry-rubarb pound cake recipe. I’ll let you know how it turns out. SOUNDS delicious, though!

  37. Perfect recipe for all of my languishing CSA fruit — thank you! I particularly love the advice to store a loaf in the freezer. Ever since that Bittman article a while back, I’m obsessed with loading up my freezer! :)

  38. Deb-I LOVE a good pound cake!

    I grew up in rural North Carolina. Our local restaurant offered pound cake as a dessert(always baked in a tube pan), and when it got just a tad bit stale, the owner would offer “pound cake sundaes.” It was nothing more than a slice pound cake, lightly browned on both sides in a cast iron skillet with a smidge of melted butter. Put the pound cake on a plate, top with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and chopped pecans….it was DELIGHTFUL!!!!

  39. Trishy

    Hey there Deb, can you verify the amount of sugar required? The ingredient listing says 2 extra tablespoons, while the directions indicate six. Thanks!

  40. Deb, here in Brazil cake recipes calling for whipping the egg whites are very common and they do deliver very light and delicious cakes! This one here looks like a keeper. And I cannot and will never say no to anything with lemon on it. :)

  41. Lisa B

    I loooooooove pound cake. When I’m ready to get back into the kitchen, this recipe will be sitting there waiting for me.

  42. You’re killing me smalls. I’m pmsing like what and I come here and see this – a picture of a pound cake that looks so delicious I seriously almost started liking the screen.

  43. This looks fabulous! I like how there isn’t that much sugar and the addition of Cognac takes it to an entirely new level. Thanks also for the dessert ideas. I will have to try this before the summer is over!

  44. deb

    Trishy — In step two, you use half a cup. In step three, you use the remaining six tablespoons (or 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons). It adds up!

  45. Sandy Kay

    New poster, long-time lurker. For the cold, have you tried a neti pot (or Sinus Cleanse stuff). It feels a little creepy to do it but is great for cleaning out stuffed sinuses with no meds.

    Love your recipes and the photos are always amazing!

  46. @sink girl
    I can confirm the Joy of Cooking directions. I made the Chocolate Wedlock wedding cake from the Death by Chocolate cookbook for a friend’s wedding in Colorado and I just made the adjustments listed in the cookbook and it worked like a charm!

  47. thank you so much for the tips. i am in park city, ut and i have always been a “baker”. it is so disappointing when i go through all the work and then……the sinking ensues. i do not have that cookbook…amazon here i come.
    thanks again.

  48. Kim

    Hi Deb-

    First of all…summer colds are the WORST kind, and that goes quadruple if you are expecting!:-(

    This cake looks fabulous, and I plan to make it for a party I am attending in the first week of September.

    Thanks for sharing these scrumptious recipes with us! Feel better soon! :-)

  49. I’m not really the cake-baking kind cos I’m afraid of precise measurements. But this cake looks heavenly. Think I might just try it out this weekend!

  50. Marnie

    I have to recommend this recipe. In Living’s August issue is a recipe for Kale Slaw. I don’t like curly kale so I used Lacinato. Yummy!! I think you’ll love the recipe.

    Also, thanks for sharing the Sour Cherry Slab Pie. I’ve been looking at this recipe for years and I’ve been inspired. I’m making it as a peach blueberry slab pie on Sunday.

  51. Mao

    Hi Deb,

    I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and I must say everything look so delightfull, I will try a lot of recipes in the coming weeks! :o)

    I baked the pound cake yesterday (I just added some strawberries that needed to be cooked…) and it is divine ! The lightness is really impressive (even though I must admit I only swifted the flour once) !
    Thanks for the recipe, and thanks for adding the weights which really make my day easier…

    Mao (a french girl living in the UK…)

  52. I can’t remember where I read this (boo) but apparently the earliest pound cake recipes, in addition to having the ratio you mention, required one solid hour of hand-beating to make up for the lack of (not-yet-invented) baking powder.

    I really like the image of pound cake slices as “bookends.”

  53. Lauren (UK)

    This looks not only delicious, but also the perfect cake to bake (possibly in tripled quantities – crikey that’s a lot of butter!) as a kind of slab cake/cutting cake for my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary next week. I was considering adapting a chocolate yoghurt cake recipe I have but I think this one might be a) more old-person-friendly and b) a bit more celebration-y, if I add the cognac. I’m thinking about a cream cheese & vanilla frosting but would be very grateful for further frosting/icing ideas, if anyone has any? Thanks dudes! (and Deb, naturally!) :)

  54. I haven’t eaten a pound cake in a looooong time. Too long. This sounds great,and I have a ton of things that would go great with it for dessert, as you mentioned. And the cognac and lemon zest addition simply sounds fabulous!

  55. I do love a dense pound cake, but you’ve intrigued me with this one–I think I have got to give it a try. I love how open-ended a dessert pound cake is too. It’s like a delicious blank canvas :-)

  56. Ellen Mitchell

    I love this pound cake — this is the version I have been making for many years (and my mom before me) (without the cognac – but sounds like a fabulous addition). The egg whites makes the difference and if you make the double recipe in a bundt-type pan with an opening in the middle, just pour in any fresh berries (or fresh fruit) and you have a stunning dessert!

  57. Always looking for new riffs on basics like this. My usual go-to recipe for pound cake is from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s the Cake Bible. Uses cake flour, so sometimes for things like making trifle it can be a bit too delicate

  58. What a fantastic recipe. Just made this cake and it’s the fluffiest thing I’ve ever had – even after managing to mess up the fluffiness of the butter, it still came out tasting of clouds. Lovely, thankyou!

  59. I really liked this pound cake. I thought the mixing method was kind of tricky – mixing the flour into the thick egg-butter-sugar mixture made a really heavy batter, and it was hard to get the light egg whites to incorporate evenly. (I did mix the whites in in portions.) I think next time I’ll alternate adding the flour and the beaten egg whites.

  60. Hi, Deb!

    Hope you’re feeling better. Sometimes hot towels over the sinus area and your eyes may help. Just sit back with your head tilted back a bit with your eyes closed.Breathe in and out slowly and focus on relaxing that area.

    The pound cake looks wonderful. I will definitely try this recipe. I’ve been looking for a lightpound cake recipe. Is it as light as the cakes from NYC’s Chinese bakeries?

  61. christinaK

    Hi! I know I’m a bit late but I just wanted to say that I made this cake today and it was a huge , huge success! Great recipe! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  62. ClaireM

    I agree with Bridget. I tried this on Saturday and had no luck trying to fold the very dry butter-sugar-flour with the beaten egg whites. I gave up and put it back on the mixer and gave it a good betting. The resulting cake was surprisingly light – I was expecting a brick. The cognac and lemon were magic additions!

  63. Ann

    Absolutely terrific. I made this on Friday and while it isn’t one of the quickest recipes of yours I have made, I was rewarded for my efforts. It was an enormous hit with the husband! I paired it with a peach compote. A summer delight, indeed.

  64. Debra

    Fabulous recipe!! Even better then the Le Bus poundcake my guest brought, which made all the extra sifting and whisking worthwhile. I made mine with lime and rum, and served with strawberries. Excellent!!

  65. maryr

    Bittman’s pound cake recipe (I have only just discovered How To Cook Everything for some reason) also separates the eggs. I’m not sure what to think about it… I overcooked mine, which didn’t help when comparing it to a more classic recipe (Martha Stewart Living’s). The traditional was too sweet, but it just seems like pound cake should be deathly simple. If I wanted to separate eggs, I’d make angel food.

  66. So it’s in the oven right now. The only thing that was odd was adding the flour to the butter mixture. It created a large crumb and seemed to defeat the purpose of all that sifting. Pretty impossible to mix gently. It’s been in there for 50 minutes and is nowhere near the brown on yours nor as high. Still blonde. Hmm… we’ll see.

  67. Yea, took about 20-25 minutes longer than directed and the crumb not as fine from the flour to butter issues. Rich cake obviously, could use more cognac & lemon– think I’d prefer something lighter in the future. Thanks anyway!

  68. I just made this pound cake today and it was sooooo so yummy! I had never made it before and it was perfectly golden brown and sweet when it was ready. I didn’t have any cognac or rum or anything to add so I just put in some vanilla extract and it was still great. I’ll definitely keep this recipe on hand, thanks so much for sharing!!!

  69. DysfunctioningUnit

    I just made this in little tiny bundt pans and…and I think it’s the best cake I’ve ever made. I added about half a tablespoon worth of pumpkin pie spice instead of the congnac and it’s realy fantastic. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  70. Sab

    I made this cake when I had a bunch of people over and it went in under a minute! It was soooooooooooooooooooo delicious I can’t emphasize it enough!

  71. Esther

    Hi Deb! This is really an angel food cake question, but here goes: I’ve never made angel food cake before, and the Internet seems a little divided on whether a bundt pan is an acceptable substitute for an angel food cake pan. I’m not concerned with how pretty it comes out, just that it does come out! Any advice?


  72. I was looking for a lemon pound cake recipe and your sounds delish!Yes that Beard guy surely knows his stuff!!Anything with alcohol gets my attention!Thank you for sharing- I’m on my way to give it a shot!

  73. Lindsey

    Just tasted the batter! Mmmm, good! Can’t wait till it comes out of the oven, though will keep a watchful eye on it as my gas oven seems to cook faster than any other oven I’ve had before. Hope it’s a success as it’s for my sister’s FareWell Celebration!

  74. Oh my nerds. Everyone in my household absolutely loves this and pretty much devours it right out of the oven. I’ve made one loaf everyday for the past three days! Thank you so much for sharing.

  75. Just tried this tonight with a couple small modifications. Had a bit of trouble getting it mixed together without deflating the egg whites too much but the results speak for themselves. Thanks!

  76. Nikki (UK)

    Just made this pound cake, but left out cognac and drizzled juice of 1 1/2 lemons and 85g sugar – lemon drizzle cake! It was yummy, and everyone loved it! Thanks Deb!

  77. I just made this cake to accompany hot cross buns ice cream I made for Easter. I also had a bit of trouble folding in the egg whites into the egg/butter/flour mixture, which was as thick as cookie dough. Next time, I think I would beat 2 yolks + 2 whole eggs into the butter/sugar mixture, and reserve just 2 egg whites to whip up and fold in at the end. It also took 55 minutes to bake in a preheated oven. I had to turn down the temp to 325 in the last 15 minutes or so the top wouldn’t brown too much. Smells heavenly though. I hope it baked through okay!

  78. Terri

    Hi Deb – I’m an old southern cook and am used to the pound cake recipes using a cup of milk or buttermilk. Why doesn’t this use the liquids?

    1. deb

      Terri — Actually, the oldest pound cake recipes have no milk or dairy in them. They use 1 pound (hence the name) of sugar, butter, flour and eggs and usually make four loaves. That’s what this is a derivative of.

    1. deb

      Hi Cathy — I use unsalted butter. If you have salted, you can skip or scale back the salt. (Most sticks of butter have 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon table salt in them.)

  79. Alyce

    I need to make this for a bundt pan (as its going to be a Birthday Cake for my two sons)…Do I just double the recipe?? Is the baking time the same??
    Thanks for your recipe…I do not like dense pound cakes…this looks perfect!

  80. Yvette

    I’d like to make this in a bunt cake pan to make sure I can feed everyone on Thanksgiving, but then I saw your cream cheese pound cake and now I’m torn! Which one of your recipes for pound cake do you love more?

  81. PG

    Sifting the dry ingredients seems to make a big difference in the quality of them. I notice that the result (I went ahead and sifted a few more times for the hell of it) reminded me of the fancier storebought pancake/waffle mixes, like those from Stonewall Kitchen and other stuff sold at William Sonoma.

    However, I found it very difficult to mix the egg whites into the rest of the batter. Incorporating the flour was not at all difficult; I took the bowl full of wet off the stand mixer and started pouring the sifted dry ingredients into it while mixing with my hand. It all mixed very nicely and evenly. However, when I then poured in the egg whites and began gently scooping them around (as I’ve done in the past successfully with other recipes on this site that call for putting eggs whites in at the end, leaving a kind of sheen of egg white over the rest of the batter), this batter separated into lumps or pellets that I couldn’t get to smooth back out. I finally gave up and poured it into the loaf pan and popped it in the oven. It’s baking with a very eggy smell, almost like you’d expect from an omelet. I’m making it as a gift for another person’s office so I won’t see it cut up or eat any. I’m hoping someone will be honest enough to tell me how it turned out — with luck, the lumps melted out as is often the case with other baked goods.

  82. deb

    Hi PG — From what I’m reading, it sounds like little bits of egg white that don’t incorporate should be fine. They give the cake that airy lift and should bake into the surrounding batter in the oven.

  83. PG

    Deb, thanks for your reply. Reports back from the office were raves, so the egg whites must have turned out well. (And I might even invest in a proper sifter instead of just shifting dry ingredients back and forth between a bowl and wax paper with a strainer. It really seems to make a difference in the crumb.)

    This is the second of the SK loaf recipes I’ve made, and I had the same problem with this as with the lemon blueberry — the very center middle didn’t fully bake through, even once the edges were quite brown and crusty. This time it was a small bit, sort of the weak spot when I flipped the loaf out of the pan onto the cooling rack, where the loaf cracked in half. I scooped out that battery center (and ate it, because hey times are hard and your batters always delicious), and was puzzled for a moment about how to fill the little hole. Then I remembered I had a naked lemon, denuded of its peel, so I cut it in half, cut the juicy inside out of the white outside and stuck it in the hole. But I do wonder what I’m doing wrong on these loafs. Maybe I should bake at lower temperature for longer, so the inside cooks fully but the outside doesn’t get too hard? Or maybe it’s a problem with my loaf pan? (Pyrex, the new less reliable made in China stuff.)

  84. deb

    Ah! It’s your loaf pan. When baking with glass or very dark pans, it’s helpful to bake recipes at 25 degrees less or they brown too quickly on the outside (before cooking in the middle). Sound familiar?

  85. PG

    YES! That’s it exactly. Will post your comment over in the “lemon yogurt anything cake” comments, as some other people there had the same problem.

  86. Every recipe that I have tried from smitten kitchen is relatively easy to make and comes out Delicious!!!!!!
    I am hooked on the cheddar-apple scones and am waiting as I text.. for the pound cake to come out of the oven.The test of a good recipe is that it smells so wonderful when it comes and tastes even better.
    Is it possible to be more Zaftig? If I am I blame it IN A GOOD WAY to smitten kitchen.
    Thank-you so much for your time and dedication!

  87. Baker

    Just made this and this got to be the best pound cake receipt ever… whole family loves this. Thanks you for sharing!

  88. Nisha

    Baking in the oven right now, recipe looks delicious! I would recommend waiting to beat your egg whites because when it got to the time to fold them in they had completely deflated :( I am using a hand beater though so it probably isn’t a problem with electric!

  89. Flossie

    Thank you so much for giving weight measurements. It is really useful especially for people from ASia as we are not too used to “cup” measurements.

  90. Kelly McLaren

    Hoping this is the right place to ask my question. I’m using your Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (read it cover to cover on the ferry home from Vancouver last weekend-loved it!) and am wanting to make the grapefruit olive oil pound cake. I’m wanting to serve it this Saturday evening as we are having a 50th wedding anniversary weekend for my parents on one of the local islands. We will be staying in a cottage, and I’m wanting to make the cake in advance. Do you think I could bake the cake and put the syrup on it then freeze it for a couple of days? I could then make the glaze at the cottage. Please let me know if you think it will freeze well and if so, should I put the syrup on before or after it’s frozen.


    Kelly McLaren
    Victoria, BC, Canada

    1. deb

      Hi Kelly — I think it should freeze well for a few days, well-wrapped. You can put the syrup on after it defrosts or before you freeze it.

    1. deb

      Rebecca — You can. Usually there’s a concern about sinking with added fruit, but I don’t remember this batter being very thin. Sadly, it’s been a couple years. Even if they do sink a little, it would be crazy delicious. :)

  91. Rebecca

    Thanks Deb. I actually made your lemon yogurt cake and added raspberries and it was a huge hit with my co-workers. Your blog inspires me all the time to try something new. Thank you for all the effort!

  92. Tova


    I made this cake yesterday, but it came out a little too dry for my liking. I wanted a lighter pound cake, but still moist. I may have over-baked it, but it really didn’t seem like I had.

  93. Liga

    I made this cake couple of days ago. Was delicious. Melted in my mouth. Did made some corrections in therms of flavor. Since I think that the brandy and lemon would work better in more richer cake. This airy and light texture was asking for more delicate flavors – so I used orange zest and 1/2 vanilla pod. Or maybe the spring was just talking to me. :)

    Deb, Rebecca – If you lightly flour your berries then they shouldn’t sink. :) The flour will make them stay nice in the batter.

  94. Hey Deb – I love the recipe , and have made at a few times..I have no complaints save it gets a tad dry …How can we introduce some moisture into the cake and still retain most of the recipe ? Any suggestions ?

    1. deb

      Bijay — The easiest way is to drop the flour slightly — a few tablespoons less will let the buttery/moist parts come through more. That said, pound cake traditionally has a firm crumb and I know a lot of people don’t care for this. We lighten the cake here with egg whites, but it’s still.. a fairly tight crumb. Hope that helps.

  95. kate C.

    Yum! This is really, really good! I love that it’s not too sweet. I worried I was wrecking it when it came time to mix in the the egg whites, so I probably erred a bit on the side of not quite mixed enough, but it still turned out really tasty, the color was just a touch uneven in the final loaf (sort of looks like that in your top picture too, though, come to think of it.) Anyway, great recipe!

    Now, off to put the lids on my pot pies (lid recipe from your book – on a more traditional chicken pot pie) and pop in the fridge. I’m bringing them (and one of these cakes) to a co-worker tomorrow whose wife is dealing with stage 4 breast cancer. Hopefully the butter and tasty recipes will help her feel a bit better… even if we can’t do much about the bad cancer thing.

  96. Stacey

    Hey Deb, we love your website. Today, I am appreciating the ease of using weights instead of using measuring cups and measuring spoons. So easy, especially when multiplying a recipe.

    Looking forward to putting this pound cake into trifle. Mmm.

    Thanks for sharing your cooking with us!

  97. Hi Deb! I wanted to chime in here and say that I made this a few times, and it is indeed an incredibly light and fluffy pound cake! It also keeps in the mail pretty well (about 3-5 days without getting stale for sure) if you mail it in a heat-sealed jar. :) I sent this along to a friend for her birthday and she just loved it — she told me she ate the entire thing in one sitting, haha!

  98. Liz W.

    I just want to say thank you so much for posting this recipe! I have been using it for YEARS and am it is my #1 go-to cake. I tweak it, I go back to the O.G., I double & sometimes triple, I have used it as a layer cake, a bundt, a loaf, & for cupcakes… IT IS ALWAYS A HUGE HIT. People are always asking me how it comes out so perfectly and I direct them straight back here so thank you, SK. You are an angel.

  99. Kathy

    I don’t own a stand mixer or hand mixer, so getting the egg whites to a soft peak is a bit of work. The cake is well worth the effort. I didn’t use cognac, so I upped the lemon zest. I love how light the cake is. Thanks for the recipe!

  100. T

    This was beyond delicious!! I made it in 2 mini loaf pans but they still needed about 40 minutes. Served with nectarine-raspberry coulis – perfection.

  101. Valerie Murray

    Deb, just letting you know I’ve baked this probably 20 times at least, even though I have the original by James Beard. I love bundt and loaf cakes and this is one of my most reliable go to recipes. It never fails, never misses the mark and always delicious.


  102. Deborah Talor

    Hi! I love love love pound cakes and the sifting flower actually makes sense! (weirdly) question – can I substitute half of the butter for oil?

    1. Kim

      The batter does not look smooth in the photo. Is this correct?

      I make a lot of pound cakes, but I’m always intrigued by new and very different ideas.

  103. Clara

    This came out delicious! But…took longer than 45 min in my oven- more like 55-60 min – which can be tough when all you want to do is try a piece!

  104. Olivia

    Best advice on how to store a loaf of pound cake in freezer?

    Loving the simplicity of pound cake ingredients and looking forward to making a double batch. Hoping we can eat just one now and freeze one for later. It will be an upgrade from those frozen Sara Lee ones I grew up with.
    Side note: I’m hard-core nesting in preparation for new baby so anything that can be doubled and frozen is key!

    Should I bake in a disposable tin? Wrap cooled loaf in foil and store in Ziploc?

    1. deb

      Disposable tins are great (so you can use your pan again) and I’d freeze it then wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic wrap. Sometimes I’ll do an additional layer of foil over it, to keep it extra tight. Good luck with the baking and the project that comes after!

  105. I like Smitten Kitchen so much! I’ve baked the everyday chocolate cake at least five times so far, and it’s become a proud member of my favorite cakes roster!
    As per Beard’s pound cake, I feel compelled to try it because what’s better than a pound cake?
    Another favorite pound cake recipe is called a Cold Oven pound cake. It’s huge, flavorful with a just-right crumb, and really impressive.
    Thanks again for all of the great writing and recipes!

  106. Derek Bampton

    My favourite is J Beard’s pound cake with a cream cheese
    added to the butter,and in the middle a ribbon of sugar,cocoa
    and cinammon,which is then repeated on the top.Not for
    purists,but both Mr B and I love it….and the cream cheese
    keeps it moister over a longer period of time.

  107. Amy Rutherford

    I like dense cakes like pound cake. Does this negate that quality or reduce the chances of a sad or underdone in the middle cake? I’ve seen some not so great pound cakes turn out this way because of the nature of the beast. I’ve had more excellent pound cakes though.

  108. Kim

    The batter does not look smooth in the photo. Is this correct?

    I make a lot of pound cakes, but I’m always intrigued by new and very different ideas.

  109. Colleen

    I made this last year for my Easter lamb cake – it was a hit! I’m going to make it again this Easter. Best pound cake I’ve ever had.

  110. Karen

    I made this with just one sifting because I was in a hurry and I forgot to use the baking powder. It was still delicious! Used Calvados and the flavor was so good. Will try to follow the recipe more closely next time. Can’t imagine how good that will be!

  111. Jacky

    I have made this cake three times.. and it is delicious every time.
    However, I can’t help but wonder each time if I have done something wrong.

    When I get to the “Gradually fold the sifted flour mixture into the butter-egg mixture” – this mades quite a thick paste-y consistency, and then to “Fold in the beaten egg whites just until the batter is smooth” means I practically flatten out all the air I have so lovingly beaten into my egg white to make the batter consistent.

    I can’t help but think I am wasting my time with all those extra steps? Is it still meant to be light and fluffy just before it goes in the oven?

    Thank you!

  112. SusieS

    I’ve been craving pound cake; after investigating several sources, I decided to try this one. Instead of Cognac or vanilla, I used a generous Tbsp of OJ concentrate (left over from my holiday sweet potato puree). I wish this recipe included suggestions of approximate mixing/folding times. Anyway, although the cake is mostly beautiful and baked to a nice golden brown (I like a little crisp to my edges), the top middle was completely raw after 40+ minutes. Any idea where I went wrong? I probably won’t try the OJ concentrate again – it doesn’t impart much orange flavor.

    1. Clare

      This pound cake is delicious but definitely needed an hour in my oven. Don’t take it out without checking with a toothpick or whatever your family’s choice of cake tester is.

  113. Bee

    A really delicious brick, is what I got with this recipe. I baked it 40 minutes and it had all the signs of being done: firm to the touch, toothpick inserted in the centre came out clean, etc. But it was seriously gooey and claggy all through the middle – I got two good slices from each end and some from the sides. So, keep it in longer, is my sad advice.