Make Ahead

Cold Oven Pound Cake

July  4, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Makes 1 cake
Author Notes

This is my grandmother’s pound cake. Like any good Southern cook, she had all her recipes on much-used and splotched index cards. I used to have the index card on which she scratched this recipe, but in several moves it has been lost. This cake is my go-to cake for food gifts; funeral food; breakfast toast; or dessert with macerated strawberries, lemon curd, or ice cream—the variations are endless. Friends swear by it for curing whatever illness they have at the moment. There is no leavener, no whipping cream, no sour cream, no salt other than the salted butter, no fancy extracts—just simple ingredients. It makes a crunchy, crusty top and the inside is dense and almost creamy. The contrast is delightful.

Tips: Do not use whole milk; 2% is best but skim works as well. Whole milk is too heavy and will keep the cake from rising. Make sure your oven is COLD. Do not preheat it. If you do not want to eat it all at once, this cake freezes beautifully. It also travels well and does not dry out quickly. —Muffinj

Test Kitchen Notes

A go-to cake for all occasions? With ingredients I always have on hand? This I had to try. I was intrigued by the unusual mixing and baking techniques. The fairly stiff batter needed some coaxing to get it distributed evenly in the pan, but once it was in, it baked up beautifully with a wonderful caramelized exterior and a moist, non-crumbly interior that has just the right amount of sweetness. Cut into chunks, it was a fabulous and sturdy dipper for chocolate fondue; when toasted, it browned without drying out and took cake to a whole new level. —tanager

What You'll Need
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 2 sticks salted butter
  • 1/2 cup solid shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk, 2% or less (do not use whole)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Grease and flour a tube or bundt pan. Set aside.
  2. Separate the eggs; the yolks go in a small bowl. The whites go into a medium bowl. Set both aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg yolks to the creamed mixture and beat until incorporated.
  5. Pour the vanilla into the milk.
  6. Pour 1/3 cup of the milk mixture into the butter, sugar, and egg mixture along with 1 cup of flour. Beat only until incorporated—do not overmix. Repeat the milk and flour additions twice more until all is used and beaten until just incorporated.
  7. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, and fold gently into the cake mixture.
  8. Pour the mixture into the greased and floured tube pan and place the pan into the cold oven.
  9. Turn the oven on to 300° F. Bake the cake for 45 minutes.
  10. Raise the temperature to 325° F and bake another 45 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Then, run a knife around the edge and invert the cake onto the rack and then back onto a plate.
  12. Serve right then, or toasted in the morning for breakfast, or with macerated fruit and ice cream for dessert.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Carley Hinchey Johnston
    Carley Hinchey Johnston
  • Bruce Yanoshek
    Bruce Yanoshek
  • Neuf350Z
  • Angelique M Kenefick
    Angelique M Kenefick
  • Moema Bentley
    Moema Bentley

34 Reviews

Helen S. July 4, 2021
To me this is more of a cake but not a pound cake. The crumb is much lighter, as it would be with whipped egg whites. I'm sure the cake is good, but just not a pound cake. A friend of mine gave me this recipe years and years ago that starts in a cold oven but is truly a pound cake - and uses heavy cream,not milk. Go to for the recipe.
Carley H. April 1, 2020
This one is my all time favorite!!! Love to make it and share it!!
Elizabeth December 12, 2018
Would you be able to make this a chocolate pound cake? What would be the proportions?
Muffinj December 14, 2018
I don’t see why you couldn’t. I don’t know the proportion but would think I would use cocoa powder, not melted chocolate. That I would simply pour over the piece of cake.
onyia F. October 3, 2018
Thanks for the recipe
Cory September 4, 2018
Made this pound cake for first time and it turned out wonderfully! A true keeper! Perfect balance of moistness in center and lovely flakiness on the outside. Follow the recipe just right and you won’t be disappointed!
Terry November 18, 2017
I wonder how this would bake up in a cast iron bundt pan - ? Preheating the empty pan is part of what prevents sticking, and the cast iron would take longer to heat up than a conventional pan. Maybe if the pan is well-greased and I bake it a bit longer...have to see.

But apart from the no preheating (and maybe whipping the egg whites), this seems a pretty standard cake recipe as most of them call for creaming the butter and sugar, adding the eggs and then alternating between liquids and flour until it's all incorporated.
Muffinj December 14, 2018
Please let me know about using the cast iron. I would be interested to see ......cold oven is essential for rising and the carmleized crust. But whatever works ...
Penny H. October 16, 2016
Coconut oil is solid at 75 degrees. Could that be used instead of the solid shortening? BTW my grandmother made pound cake every year for Christmas. It was always dry and heavy, never my favorite although other family members loved it. I definitely want to try this recipe.
Theresa B. August 10, 2016
I shared a cold oven pound cake recipe with a friend. She had never heard of one put in a cold oven. She made it and loved it. She found this recipe and shared with me. She made hers first and it was delicious! Loved the crustiness of the outside. *always use a smooth tube pan.
Theresa B
hallitron February 11, 2016
This recipe is almost identical to my great great aunt's pound cake. It's such a family favorite/coveted recipe that we have to ask my grandmother's permission to give it out. It's sorta freaking me out cause I've never seen another recipe that goes into a cold oven like this. We must be related or something!
Muffinj December 14, 2018
Wouldn’t that be wild!!!!! Glad to know it is out there .....
How is it different from yours?
Bruce Y. September 2, 2015
I've made this cake many times. My favorite thing about it is the crust that develops on the top when it bakes. Much of it breaks off when you slice the cake, so the cook gets to set those aside for him/herself.
Neuf350Z November 25, 2014
Just tried this and it doesn't taste like a typical pound cake at all. I like a dense and buttery cake and this isn't it.
Lissa J. October 20, 2014
Can lard be used instead of shortening ?
Reeb July 31, 2014
Have made a cold oven pound cake before, but have just read about this one. Looking forward to baking it just like its listed then if I disagree with anything I'll change it on the next baking time. Doubt there'll be any changes though.
Angelique M. July 21, 2014
Angelique M. July 20, 2014
Cake is in the oven now :)
Neuf350Z November 16, 2014
How was it? I'm thinking of making this one for the holidays but would love to hear from someone who actually made it.
emilyos July 3, 2014
Has anyone tried using a non-dairy milk? I don't usually keep cow's milk in the house and I am interested to hear how it has turned out for others.
Luvtocook May 28, 2014
I love pound cake and can't wait to try this. Only use whole milk in my kitchen so plan to use less milk well mixed with water for correct amount. I use Crisco shortening (sticks) for pastry so expect I'll use butter-flavored Crisco for this cake. I have high hopes for this recipe.
Muffinj May 31, 2014
Please let me know ho wit came out with the butter flavored Crisco - for me that would be too much butter taste - but it might work just fine. Thanks
Muffinj May 31, 2014
"how it" came out - sorry - bad typist
Moema B. May 27, 2014
Thank you Pam, I will give it a try and keep you posted! I don't like to use shortening at all when I bake.
Pam May 26, 2014
Moema Bentley: you can buy transfat free shortening at Whole Foods. A bit pricey as you'd expect but worth it for me since I don't use shortening that often.
Heather M. May 25, 2014
Followed the exact recipe and it was delicious!