Sally's Pound Cake

September  9, 2013
3 Ratings
Photo by Sophie Lampl
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 8-10
Author Notes

There’s certain, let’s say, obsessive trait that is common to chefs and producers. I prefer to call it passion. It was no surprise that at one point in my career I toyed with the idea of recreating myself as a pastry chef. In my off time I took any pastry and baking class I could get my hands on. I baked wedding cakes for friends as their wedding gift and took it a step further by baking my own wedding cake. What was I thinking? Right, that passion thing. It is no accident that a highlight of co-producing an NPR radio series was sharing recipes with guest Nora Ephron.

Although I can cover a skyscraper sized a cake with sugar flowers and lace piping, at the end of the day the best tasting cake is my mother Sally’s pound cake. You know the cake. The ever-satisfying comfort cake and a sure thing for any holiday, housewarming or Shiva . My family calls it Sally’s Pound Cake. Disclosure -it’s not her recipe, but, over time and enough claiming it became Sally’s Pound Cake. At one point it was called Sally’s Golden Feathery Pound Cake but I thought that was taking it too far. The recipe was shared with her by an acquaintance Sis – it didn’t take long before Sis was out of the pound cake picture and it was all Sally’s. It’s so 60’s that Presto flour is an ingredient – Presto can still be found in any grocery store worth it’s salt.

It is the little black dress of pound cakes. Simple and elegant on it’s own, but, accessorized with fruit, cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce it is a grand finale for any dinner party. It is the thing that memories are made of when day old and toasted with a slather of butter and good conversation. I mix the batter in her green Pyrex bowl and bake the cake in the same tube pan she used . You should use your Kitchen Aid, but, for me that would be less Zen. After all, it’s a sentimental cake. It has lots of butter and lots of heart.

What You'll Need
  • 3 Cups Presto flour (self-rising) 1 Cup unsalted butter softened (the original recipe calls for 1 stick Oleo and 1 stick Spry) 2 Tablespoons of hot water 1 ¾ Cups of granulated sugar ¾ Cup of whole milk 2 teaspoons of vanilla 4 unbeaten eggs
  • 3 cups Presto self rising flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened (the original called for 1 stick Spry and 1 stick of Oleo
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 3/4 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, unbeaten
  • (there are no second set of ingredients )
  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9" tube pan.
  2. Blend hot water and butter in stand mixer and beat until smooth.
  3. Sift in the flour and the sugar.
  4. Add the milk, vanilla and 2 of the eggs and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.
  5. Add 2 more eggs and beat for 2 more minutes.
  6. Turn batter into butter and floured 9" tube pan.
  7. Bake for approximately 50 minutes. Depending on your oven it may be done sooner - keep an eye on it!
  8. Cool on rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and dust with confectioners sugar if you're going the unadorned route.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Suzan Eraslan
    Suzan Eraslan
  • Brooke Lampl Rosenblatt
    Brooke Lampl Rosenblatt
  • judy
  • JayDee

16 Reviews

JayDee September 3, 2020
To me, this is the platonic ideal of pound cake. I've tried many, many recipes over the years in hopes of recreating the one I remember my grandmother making occasionally when I was growing up - and which became the standard by which I've judged all subsequent pound cakes my entire life. (I suspect a lot of us have a similar experience when it comes to things our families made when we were young!) This somehow manages to be rich and delicate at the same time - no mean feat, since most recipes I've tried tend to go a bit too far in either direction. (It may be a mouthful, but "Sally’s Golden Feathery Pound Cake" is indeed the perfect name for it.) Somehow I think mixing those two tablespoons of hot water with the butter in the beginning has something to do with creating its perfect texture - at least it's not a technique I've come across in any recipes I can recall. I followed the recipe precisely the fist few times I made it (using the store brand self-rising flour I had in my pantry instead of Presto), but took the liberty of adding some finely grated lemon zest (from two medium lemons) to the batter the last time I made it and will probably continue to do so whenever I make this, simply because I love that subtle hint of lemon in the background. I hope Sally won't mind! Otherwise, this is absolutely a perfect recipe and doesn't need to be changed at all. Kudos to Sally and Sis for bringing it into the world, and for PATLAMPL for sharing it with us!
Suzan E. February 26, 2018
This recipe is impossible to screw up, as I learned despite mine and fate's best efforts when I made it last night. I had been drooling over this recipe for a week but I didn't have a bundt pan and my mixer had recently died in a molasses clove cookie dough accident. I went to my local hardware store just to see if they had a mixer and a bundt pan, and they did. I didn't check the wattage on the $15 mixer, though, which will become important later. Got home, started assembling the ingredients and realized that I didn't have self-rising flour, but I could make it with all purpose + baking powder and salt (though usually that results in a tougher crumb). I blended the water and butter together, sifted the flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl, then scooped sugar out of my sugar canister, only to discover I had exactly 1 2/3 cups of sugar, not 1 3/4! UGH. I went ahead and added the 2 eggs, milk, and vanilla extract, and mixed for 2 minutes, but my mixer started to have that lovely overheating smell, and wouldn't you know it, the motor fully died over cake batter! Cake batter! Never, ever buy a 100 watt mixer, folks. So here I am all but 2 eggs from finishing an already imperfect batter, and no way that I can whisk in 2 more (I may criticize the mixer for dying in that batter, but my arm is definitely less than 100 watts!). I improvise and grab my immersion blender because at least it will aerate the batter somewhat, put in the 2 other eggs, basically make a cake batter smoothie in the bowl, pour it into the buttered and floured pan and pop it in the oven with no hope for the future. 50 minutes later, it comes out and it is absolutely DIVINE. I don't know what magic is in this recipe that you can be a hot mess who just wants a piece of pound cake on a Sunday night and do everything to ruin it and still come out with a perfect slice of cake, but it is phenomenal!
jans September 24, 2013
Brooke L. September 11, 2013
Yummy! Can't wait to try it!
Ann J. September 11, 2013
This is the best pound cake in the whole world - actually it's the best cake (that's not chocolate) in the whole world!
Carol C. September 10, 2013
Absolutely everyone's favorite! I must admit, it's a bit scary having the recipe now......I can have it anytime and don't have to wait for a holiday. Soon I won't be fitting into that "little black dress"! Thanks for sharing Patricia :)
alyssa September 10, 2013
What a great, simple recipe! Can't wait to try it!
Sophie September 9, 2013
I absolutely LOVE this cake. I hope I get to make it for my children someday!! I like cake:D
So Y. September 9, 2013
I have been waiting for this recipe since I met you!!! I can't wait to try it myself :)
judy September 9, 2013
Can't wait to try this and hope I see more recipes in the future....
Linda September 9, 2013
This is such a heavenly dessert -- it's delicious!!
[email protected] September 9, 2013
Sally would love this!!
Beverly September 9, 2013
My favorite dessert in the whole world! Now I can make it too!
Marina September 9, 2013
I can't wait to try it. Pound cake is a family favorite and I"m always looking for a good recipe. This may be it!
Barbara September 9, 2013
Wonderful cake baked with love by several generations!
Kathi R. September 9, 2013
I've experienced the joy of enjoying this special dessert, baked both by the author and her mother. It's spectacular!