Go-To Vanilla Pound Cake

July  2, 2021
24 Ratings
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
  • 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
  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.

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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

47 Reviews

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)?
MarciT January 17, 2021
Excellent recipe! The tips to cream longer than seem necessary (for those to whom this tip is new!) and could visibly see a difference in my regular creaming time. The cake was dense yet light with a crispy exterior and moist, perfectly sweet center. I added 100g of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and it was devoured in a day. Planning to make a double batch of plain vanilla today and adding this recipe to my regular reputation.
55 J. January 16, 2021
Great texture. Not too tight, nor too loose. Bright butter and vanilla flavor. Will definitely make again. Pound cake can be tricky at the end, edges can get way too brown, and still have flecks of uncooked batter in the crest. This has to do with the oven rather than the recipe.......
Patrick P. January 16, 2021
Loved the video! Followed the recipe exactly, beating/scraping, watching the magic happen. Baked it and it was on its way to rising and it fell? Thoughts? Thank you!
Ekdanta January 16, 2021
I posted the same question. Mine baked beautifully and fell after it came out of the oven. It seems the author doesn’t bother to respond to comments.
Indira I. January 17, 2021
Although this didnt happen to me, it seems like the cake cooled too quickly which would explain it falling after removing from the oven. My guess (mine came out perfectly) would be to let it stay in the oven for 5-10 mins once done (while turned off) so the temperature change isn’t too rapid. Take it out of the pan after a further 10 mins and let it cool completely before cutting into it. Hope that helps :)
Patrick P. January 17, 2021
Will give it a try! Thank you
Eileen January 15, 2021
SOOOOOOO Good!!! Really easy to make. Follow her directions and its a no fail!
I've made it twice this week. It's fabulous.
Amy January 14, 2021
This recipe is PERFECT. The ratios are excellent and the instructions to mix and scrape make all of the difference, and worth the time. It's suburb plain and an excellent base for a decadent strawberry shortcake. I will be making this for years to come.
Amy January 14, 2021
This recipe is PERFECT. The ratios are excellent and the instructions to mix and scrape make all of the difference, and worth the time. It's suburb plain and an excellent base for a decadent strawberry shortcake. I will be making this for years to come.
zarahm January 13, 2021
A very tender pound cake with just the right amount of sweetness. I added blueberries to mine & this has become the perfect tea time snack! The video to go along with the recipe is also extremely helpful, I got better at my techniques while making this cake and I think it really made a difference while baking.