We Made the Original Old-Fashioned Pound Cake Recipe. Here’s What Happened

What happens when you mix a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour? This writer put an old-fashioned pound cake recipe to the test.

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Who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned pound cake? Moist and buttery, it’s a simple dessert that never goes out of style. But have you ever wondered where pound cake got its name?

See whether or not you’re an old-fashioned cook.

A Brief History of Pound Cake

Word has it that the pound cake originated in Northern Europe in the early 1700s. Baked in a loaf pan, the original recipe called for a pound each of flour, butter, eggs and sugar which resulted in an incredibly moist, dense cake. However, over the years, the basic recipe has been adapted more ways than one can count. Early European variations from the mid-1800s used cornmeal instead of all-purpose flour to make the treat more affordable. Today, modern adaptations have adjusted the ingredient ratios and added flavorings like lemon, chocolate and vanilla.

All of these changes have significantly altered the taste and texture of the original recipe and left us wondering: How does modern-day pound cake differ from the old-fashioned version? We decided to put the original recipe to the test.

How to Make Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1 pound eggs (when weighed in their shells)
  • 1 pound all-purpose or cake flour

Pound cake ingredientsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 1: Weigh the ingredients

Using a kitchen scale, weigh out each ingredient into individual bowls and set aside. For the eggs, weigh them while they are still in their shells and leave them uncracked until you are ready to add them to the batter. If you don’t own a kitchen scale, there are lots of affordable options on Amazon or at your local kitchen supply store.

Step 2: Cream the butter

In a stand mixer with the beater attachment, cream the softened butter until light and fluffy (about 5-6 minutes) at a medium speed. By the way, here’s what you need to know about butter.

Step 3: Add the sugar

Next, with the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar in a steady stream to the butter. Once the sugar has been added, turn the mixer off and take a moment to scrape the sides on the mixing bowl to ensure even blending of the butter and sugar. Turn the mixer back on and continue to cream the butter and sugar together for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Step 4: Mix in eggs

Once the sugar and butter are well blended, begin adding the eggs. Crack each egg, one at a time, and add it to the batter. Take care to mix each egg until no traces of yolk remain before adding the next egg. After every two or three eggs, pause the mixer and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Don’t make any of these egg mistakes!

Step 5: Fold in the flour

Reduce the mixer to the lowest speed and add 1/4 of the flour. Mix on low until no dry flour remains and then repeat three more times until all of the flour has been incorporated. Mix until you have a smooth batter, then turn off the mixer.

Pound cake batter in two loaf pansLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 6: Bake!

Divide the batter evenly into two buttered 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pans. (Here’s how to grease ’em properly.) Smooth the top of each loaf flat with an offset spatula. Place the prepared loaf pans into a preheated 325° oven, preferably with the racks positioned in the lower third of the oven.

Bake for 60 minutes and then check the doneness of each loaf. The loaves should be golden with a small crack down the center of their domed top and feel firm to the touch when pressed gently. A toothpick should also come out clean when inserted into the loaf.

Editor’s Tip: You can also insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of each loaf. If the thermometer reads 200°, they’re done baking. Learn more about food-safe cooking temperatures here.

Two freshly baked pound cakes still in their loaf pansLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 7: Let cool, then serve

Remove the loaves from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack. After 15 minutes, carefully remove the cakes from their pans and let cool completely before serving.

To serve the pound cake, slice and top with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Or, cut it into cubes and layer it into a tasty trifle.

Classic pound cake loaf and slices beside a kitchen scaleLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

The Results

While this recipe gets a 10 out of 10 in both appearance and texture, we felt that the flavor was definitely lacking something. Our detailed thoughts are broken down below:

  • Appearance: This pound cake recipe couldn’t have turned out better. Both cakes had a deep golden color and even, domed top. They also came out with that iconic crack down the middle.
  • Texture: When sliced, the loaves were baked evenly and had a tight, dense crumb structure. And a few bites proved that the cake was moist, spongy and light.
  • Flavor: This original recipe does lose some points in the flavor category. The cake has a lovely, slightly sweet flavor from the sugar, but overall the taste of the flour comes through a bit too strong. If made again, we would add a little flavoring to the batter after mixing the eggs. 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla would be a simple addition, but a little almond, orange or lemon extract would also be tasty.

Overall, this old-fashioned recipe gets a 9/10 from us. It’s simple, straightforward and yields a beautiful result. This is a recipe we will surely make again—with a few tweaks.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.