Bake

Go-To Vanilla Pound Cake

January  4, 2021
19 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
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.

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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.