Bake

Go-To Vanilla Pound Cake

July  2, 2021
5 Stars
Photo by James Ransom. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne.
Author Notes

This pound cake is unbelievably fluffy, tender, and light. It has a toasty brown crust, tight crumb that slices cleanly, and eats a lot like that pound cake nobody doesn’t like. There are three things to keep in mind to achieve pound cake glory: First, a metal loaf pan conducts heat faster than a glass one, resulting in a higher rise and golden crust—avoid glass loaf pans which conduct heat slowly and lead to a dense, greasy cake. Second, make sure the eggs, butter, and sour cream are at room temperature to ensure they whip up light and emulsify properly into a creamy, homogenous batter. And finally, stop and scrape down the paddle and the bowl several times during mixing for an even crumb. Tightly wrapped, this moist cake keeps at room temperature for a week and frozen for up to three months.

Want to try a variation? Try this Black & White Pound Cake recipe and read more about this pound cake technique here, so you have the confidence to take it off-script. —Sohla El-Waylly

Watch This Recipe
Go-To Vanilla Pound Cake
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Serves one 9x5-inch loaf
Ingredients
  • 14 tablespoons (196 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (187 grams) all-purpose flour
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Set a rack in the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5-inch metal loaf pan with butter.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt on medium-high speed until pale and very fluffy, stopping once during mixing to scrape down the paddle and bowl, 6 to 8 minutes total. (You might think it’s done before that time, but keep going all the way.)
  3. Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl. On medium-high speed, beat in the eggs and yolk one at a time, scraping down the paddle and the bowl after each addition. The batter should look very fluffy, creamy, and emulsified (if not, your eggs or butter may have been not at room temperature—let the mixture come to room temperature then try mixing it again).
  4. Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and vanilla until lump-free and totally smooth.
  5. Add half of the sour cream and mix on medium-low until just incorporated, about 15 seconds. Add half of the flour and mix until just incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with the remaining sour cream and flour. Using a flexible rubber spatula, scrape down the paddle and the bowl and mix the batter a few times to make sure everything is evenly combined.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and roughly level the batter with the spatula. With a butter knife or offset spatula, swirl the knife through the batter to make sure it is evenly distributed into the pan with no big air pockets and give the pan a few swift taps against the counter. Wet a butter knife and use it to slice down the center of the loaf cake (this ensures an even crack right down the middle of the cake).
  7. Bake until the crust is deeply browned, the loaf rises and splits, and the cake feels firm and set when you gently press the top, 60 to 70 minutes. (This is a very moist cake and it is better to overbake rather than underbake. If the crust is looking very dark partway through, set a wire rack just above the loaf pan and place a rimmed baking sheet on it to provide a shield.)
  8. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula or butter knife around the sides to loosen. Tip the cake into your hand, then place on a wire rack to fully cool before slicing.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Yveneed Kimberley Francois
    Yveneed Kimberley Francois
  • Regine
    Regine
  • Madeline McGuire
    Madeline McGuire
  • Sandra Nicole Roldan
    Sandra Nicole Roldan
Sohla El-Waylly is a Food52 Resident, sharing new riffable recipes every month that'll help you get creative in the kitchen. Watch her cook on YouTube in her new series, Off-Script With Sohla. Before she started developing fun recipes for home cooks, she worked as a chef in N.Y.C. and L.A., briefly owning a restaurant in Brooklyn with her husband and fellow chef, Ham El-Waylly. She lives in the East Village with Ham, their two dogs, and cat. Find out what else she's up to on Instagram @sohlae

58 Reviews

Yveneed K. August 3, 2022
The best recipe on pound cake I’ve tried. I love the video explanation from Sohla! It’s so light and fluffy *insert gif from Minions here*
 
Andrea April 7, 2022
I have made this pound cake and variations several times now and it is my favorite recipe ever. The butter in this recipe is the star ingredient, I highly recommend using something Irish/European (like that brand wrapped in gold foil) to amp up the flavor. You're taking all that time to beat and scrape the bowl, splurge on the better butter for the best pound cake ever!
 
mtkld March 10, 2022
5 stars, perfection

I made this recipe in a bundt pan! I followed the recipe except I doubled all the ingredients. I filled my bundt 3/4 the way full, then made the rest of the batter into a few cupcakes. I baked at 320 for 60 minutes, then at 345 until the crust sprung back after pressing it. Approx 10-15 minutes. The entire cake was eaten in one night!
 
Eva E. February 23, 2022
Wondering if you can make this without a stand mixer? I've got a strong arm but I don't wanna ruin the cake!
 
Lora S. February 23, 2022
Honestly, it won't be the same. The key to this cake's texture is the LONG beating time in step 2. Arm strength aside, it's the air being beat in that's the thing.
 
Eva E. February 23, 2022
Would a hand mixer work?
 
Lora S. February 23, 2022
I haven't tried it...but I'd guess it would work ok - maybe not great? Of course, I could be wrong, so try it! I'd suggest using a fairly snug bowl for creaming, to get maximum contact with the butter and sugar. The 6-8 minutes of creaming really are key here. Go for it and enjoy!
 
Sandra N. February 27, 2022
Yes, I've made it twice with just a hand mixer. You'll need to beat the butter-sugar mix a total of 8 to 10 minutes. I paused to scrape the bowl every 2-3 mins. Additional beating and scraping all throughout would be 2-3 mins after each new ingredient is added. Then a final scrape down and brief mix with spatula as Sohla suggested.
 
sharon B. January 9, 2022
I've made it exactly as stated with all the cleaning of the mixer blade and it turned out better than perfect. Follow the process and it will turn out beautifully.
 
Lora S. November 14, 2021
I love to have a snacking cake in the kitchen, and a simple pound cake is favorite. This has become my go-to vanilla pound cake. The crumb is sublime. The toasty exterior from that butter rubbed pan interior is perfection. For the BEST vanilla flavor, I always pull out the Heilala vanilla for this one. Scrape the bowl! Set a timer and really whip it as long as the recipe says. It's gonna feel extra, but the payoff is huge!
 
Eamontgomery29 November 12, 2021
Hubby REALLY wants his pound cake in a traditional Bundt pan. Would this recipe work??? How would I adjust cook time?
 
Mary F. July 19, 2021
Question; would the cake survive if made Vegan?
 
Meagan July 2, 2021
Such a wonderful and tasty recipe! I appreciate your videos, recipes, tips, and tricks. I look forward to trying the other pound cake recipe, but I'll make this a few more times before doing so.
 
Regine May 25, 2021
Excellent. Such a fine textured, buttery cake. Only thing I did differently because this is what I do with all pound cakes is to bake cake at 325 instead of 350. It took 70 minutes in my gas oven and the outside was way less brown (which I actually prefer) than the one in picture. Thanks for such a wonderful pound cake.
 
J1 March 14, 2021
Utter perfection - I watched the video several times for education and pleasure. My only suggestion is to up the prep time -- no way can scrape the beater / scrape the bowl as many times as needed and get this done in 25 mins. 40-45 is more like it. But worth it for sure!!
 
LuLu March 8, 2021
The Best Pound Cake Ever!! It was so good I made another one the next day only beating and scraping the paddle and bowl more times than the first one. I stayed with it and the results were exceptional. Delish!! Light, Butery and Moist 👌Going to try the black and white this weekend! Can’t wait...Thank You for sharing 🙏🏻❤️👩‍🍳
 
SimonOliver March 3, 2021
This is a very easy recipe, which produces a really lovely Cake. I didn't ice - just dusted lightly with powdered sugar. It's not overly sweet which I really like. This will be my go to Pound Cake recipe because as many have suggested, it would be very easy to change the flavour using lemon etc. I am going to make it again
with glace cherries.
 
swingset February 16, 2021
how long can sour cream stay out? i left mine for 2 days (the day i was gonna bake ended up happening the day after) and i was a bit worried that it was spoiled.
 
OCEEDEE February 28, 2021
It's probably perfectly fine... just give it a whiff. If it doesn't smell off... give it a taste. If it doesn't taste off - it isn't - and your good to go.
 
juguigo January 31, 2021
Great recipe I have done it twice now my first vanilla &lemon zest, second just orange zest. I kind of frick out when the zest changed the batter texture but it got better couple minutes after (with the mixer on 6) and scraping constantly 😂.
I would like to ask what is the range of internal temperature that indicates perfectly done
 
Des February 1, 2021
95-98 C. Mine registered 98 C and it was perfectly done. Aim for higher rather than lower, since this is a very dense batter.
 
Des January 27, 2021
I am flabbergasted by the texture of this cake. I've been baking for years and this crumb is nothing like I've ever seen before. Who knew scraping down your paddle & bowl obsessively took cake to this whole other level. A little too sweet for me, but otherwise just incredible. Give the people more Sohla!
 
KirstenInCO January 25, 2021
This cake is delicious and turned out beautifully. I loved the video and found the scraping and mixing instructions very helpful. I live at high altitude (10,500’) and made no adjustments for altitude. My loaf doesn’t have the hump that Sohla’s had, but it rose just fine and baked through. I did bake it to a little over 70min. My pan is the metal USA made 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan. I laid a piece of foil on top of the cake around 50 minutes in, to keep it from getting too dark. The edges are pretty crisp (especially the ends) but the center is perfectly done and moist. I did add lemon and made a powdered sugar and lemon icing.

For the cake, I added zest of 1.5 small lemons (mixed into the flour). I also added juice of 1/2 a lemon plus about 1/4 tsp of lemon extract to the sour cream, in addition to the vanilla extract. I made no adjustments to the other ingredients when making these additions.

For the icing, I juiced the other 1/2 lemon (about 1tbsp), zested the other 1/2 lemon, added a pinch of salt and a tiny splash of lemon extract. Stirred in 1tbsp of half-and-half and then whisked in powdered sugar until it was thick enough to glaze.

Lovely lemon and vanilla flavor throughout!
 
LatinaLibra1005 January 21, 2021
This is it - this is the best pound cake we've ever had. Follow Sohla's direction's exactly and you will not be disappointed. It's so light, heavenly and buttery; just absolutely delicious.
 
Jess January 18, 2021
delicious!! i added lemon zest and juice but otherwise followed sohla's directions exactly. definitely a new favorite recipe :D
 
Madeline M. January 17, 2021
This pound cake turned out so well! I changed it up by using a little bit of lemon extract, lemon juice and zest and it turned out great!
 
emsxay January 21, 2021
Hi! I've never made pound cake before and I would really try this recipe but I want to add lemon, too! If you don't mind me asking, how much lemon extract, juice, and zest did you add? And did you adjust any of the other ingredients (for example any of the wet stuff)?