One-Bowl Baking

This Buttery, Too-Darn-Easy Pound Cake Breaks All the Cake Rules

July  3, 2018

No—I did not invent a recipe for making an excellent pound cake in a food processor. But I know a good thing when I see it, and I saw this good thing in America’s Test Kitchen’s latest book The Perfect Cake. It was simply called “Pound Cake.” Talk about burying the lead!

I immediately noticed that it was made in a food processor and with melted butter. If you don’t bake much, you may not know that this just breaks soooo many rules (which is also a good reason for anyone who doesn’t bake much to make this cake). I had to make it. When I reviewed the book for the Wall Street Journal, I felt I owed it to everyone involved—especially readers—to test a few of the recipes. This cake looked improbable and too darn easy. Pound cakes can be tricky, and a failed one (or just a bad recipe) makes a fine doorstop—either way, I knew I’d have some decent talking points after testing this one.

This cake looked improbable and too darn easy.

The pound cake was a rousing success. It looked and smelled like pound cake. It was buttery, close-grained, and tender. I nibbled it before bed, and craved it with coffee the next morning. Hypothetically—since there were none—stale slices would have toasted up nicely.

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The method remains improbable: pour hot melted butter over sugar and eggs in a food processor, then scrape the batter into a mixing bowl and whisk the flour in by hand. Transfer to loaf pan. Bake. It works. How could you not want to make this?

Not only did I want to make the cake again, I wanted to play with it (beyond the lemon, orange, and almond variations given in the original recipe). The fact that hot melted butter was involved begged for steeping aromatics and spices in the butter. I visited my recently refreshed spice drawer (a whole other story) for inspiration and tried combinations like toasted coriander seeds with cinnamon and cardamom; freshly ground coffee with ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon; saffron with vanilla, and more. I tried a version with brown butter, adding a little water to the batter to compensate for the water driven off in the browning of the butter. And then, since the recipe goes together in a matter of minutes, it was easy to find time to try swapping brown sugar for half of the white sugar.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I'm a decent baker and love a good pound cake but had not had a lot of luck without making bricks before trying this recipe. It might as well be called "no fail pound cake" for how good it is. Even I don't have a food processor, it can be done with an immersion blender or even a wire whip/whisk and it still works.”
— wildgourmet

I’m sharing the basic recipe with a few of my variations here—because, well, I can’t just leave a good thing alone. Next time I’m going to try using some of the endless jaggery samples leftover from my jaggery shortbread.

I’m not done with this pound cake yet, but I think you can carry on without me!

Another Breakfast/Snack Option, Right This Way:

How do you want to riff on this pound cake? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Dona
  • Sonya
  • Anita104
  • Pamela Golden
    Pamela Golden
  • gigi123
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


Dona June 22, 2022
This is a great cake! I’ve been making pound cake for 50 years and this may be the best.
Sonya June 17, 2022
The image at the top of this page (chickpeas & ??? inside a food processor w additional ingredients to the left) looks nutritiously inspiring; however, what recipe does it pertain to? Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Ty.
Mickey June 19, 2022
Chickpeas are a classic ingredient of hummus.
Anita104 June 17, 2022
Would this work with gluten free flour plus xanthan gum?
Jen R. June 17, 2022
I think it will and am going to try for Father’s Day!
Stacey June 17, 2022
You can use either Bob’s Cup for Cup flour or the Cup 4 Cup brand (Thomas Keller) in almost ANY recipe and it will come out perfect. No xanthan gum needed. (All the binders are in these two flour blends.) I’ve fooled chefs…
Anita104 June 17, 2022
Thanks, that was my feeling also, but because this uses cake flour, I wasn't sure.
Stacey June 17, 2022
If you have or can buy buttermilk powder, a tbsp in a recipe really lightens things up :)
Pamela G. June 17, 2022
My family and I are use to old fashion pound cake with that tang of sour cream or buttermilk. How can I add that to this recipe? I recently made this recipe as my arm is in a sling following shoulder surgery and it was so much easier than my traditional recipe but was missing that traditional taste. Thanks for any suggestions.
Stacey June 17, 2022
Have you ever tried using buttermilk powder? You can add a tablespoon or two without changing the recipe. It gives it that tang, and that lactic acid chemical reaction gives most recipes an awesome lightness.
gigi123 June 5, 2022
I was looking for a reply to the question of wouldn't the hot butter cook the eggs. It was the first thing I thought of when I read the recipe. Does anyone know why this is not a problem?

HalfPint June 7, 2022
Butter tends to melt around 90F-100F. Eggs scramble at a much higher temperature, 144F-158F. Even though the melted butter is "hot", it is not hot enough to scramble the eggs. That's my guess based on the physics.
lee June 5, 2022
Great article. However it’s bury the lede. Can’t wait to try it.
Winness June 5, 2022
I avoided most recipes that called for ice-cold butter that had to be cut into flour for recipes for scones and dozens of others. Until...I read a tiny hint a long time ago and gave it a try. I melt my butter now and then mix it into the cold milk, buttermilk, or whatever cold liquid is called for. Instantly, that melted butter turns into floating globules after a quick stir. Pour into the flour and the butter is dispersed throughout the batter. Results...perfect. So, I am not surprised that melted butter in a pound cake results in a beautiful bit of heaven. Sometimes the old rules need to be broken.
Saz M. July 27, 2020
Literally tasted of rotten trash! I think maybe cook it on high for less rather than longer on low. It was green brown and not good. I don’t know how I screwed that up but I did. Yuck. Threw it away.
Saz M. July 27, 2020
Sorry I was commenting on a broccoli recipe - mixed up my open recipes!
Judy B. January 15, 2021
I laughed out loud at your recipe mixup. When I read your comment about the trashy and green, I thought what the heck?
Glad you corrected quickly. So funny, made my day.
Winness June 5, 2022
I roared when I read your review! Yay for flame-outs. I'm not the only one on the planet who has done this. Phew! BTW, that broccoli recipe must be avoided at all costs.
jewelgreenberg June 5, 2022
Saz, this is hilarious. The only thing I could think of was that your eggs must have been bad, but a broccoli recipe makes more sense! Thanks for the laugh, and a reminder of how wonderfully human we all are. 💗
wildgourmet August 7, 2018
I've made this recipe before when I saw it at ATK or in Cook's Magazine, I forget was one of those recipes where they found the best method to do something. I'm a decent baker and love a good pound cake but had not had a lot of luck without making bricks before trying this recipe. It might as well be called "no fail pound cake" for how good it is. Even I don't have a food processor, it can be done with an immersion blender or even a wire whip/whisk and it still works.
Karen O. July 13, 2018
Would the hot butter cook the eggs?
Beth D. July 13, 2018
If I want to make this with almond extract or coconut - how much do I add to the recipe?
Alice M. July 13, 2018
I'd start gently, with maybe 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. I don't have experience with coconut extract.
Lashawn B. July 13, 2018
Does it have to be mixed in a food processor? Can you use a blender?
Lisa B. July 13, 2018
You can use a blender.
annarose July 4, 2018
How did the version with brown sugar turn out?
Nikkitha B. July 4, 2018
Very well! That was a test kitchen fave.
wietje July 4, 2018
Whoaaa, looks like a genius recipe to me. Question: can I use a blender or hand mixer instead?
Lisa B. July 13, 2018
You can use a blender.
Leigh July 3, 2018
Could I use unbleached all-purpose flour instead of unbleached cake flour?
Michele July 3, 2018
I just made mini ones with AP flour, removing 3 tablespoons of the flour and replacing with cornstarch to mimic cake flour. It worked fine. They needed about 45 minutes in mini loaf pans to get to 212F. Good luck.
Nikkitha B. July 3, 2018
My pound cakes pretty much always end up feeling like doorstops, so I'm very excited for this one!