How to Make Homemade Pound Cake from Scratch

By Kathryn Walsh

Start to Finish: 90 minutes Servings: 4 to 6 Difficulty Level: Beginner

Slices Of Pound Cake
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Historically, recipes used a pound of butter, sugar, eggs and flour.

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Pound cake should be buttery and dense, but too often it ends up leaden. The secret to making a delicious cake, adapted from Elvis Presley's favorite recipe, is to use the right flour. If you have cake flour on hand, you can use a full 1 1/2 cup of that; if not, make a homemade version using flour and cornstarch -- this lower-protein alternative to white flour makes cakes tender.


  • 1 stick unsalted softened butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, minus 3 tablespoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For Pan Butter Flour

Optional Glaze 1/2 cup powdered sugar 1 tablespoon orange juice 1 teaspoon orange zest 1 teaspoon lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of your electric mixer. Beat the mixture for 5 minutes, until it is pale yellow and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula a few times during the beating.

Add the eggs and the egg yolk to the bowl. If you're using lemon zest, add it now. Beat the mixture for an additional 5 minutes.

Pour the cornstarch into a 2-cup measuring cup. Pour in enough flour to fill the cup to the 1 1/2-cup mark. Add the salt and stir the dry ingredients together. Sift them into a bowl.

While the mixer is turned off, pour in one-third of the sifted flour. Beat the mixture until the flour is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add half of the cream and beat until it is combined. Repeat this with more of the flour, the rest of the cream and the rest of the flour, beating after each addition. Don't beat the mixture past the point when everything is well combined, as over-beating makes cake tough.

Rub butter over the bottom and sides of a loaf pan. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour into the pan and rotate it until the butter is coated by flour. Pour out any excess.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf pan. Use a spatula to even out the batter. Bake the cake for 60 to 70 minutes. It's done when the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out dry.

Make a Glaze

Whisk together the powdered sugar, orange juice, orange zest and lemon zest. The glaze should be thin enough to be pourable. You can make it thicker by adding more powdered sugar or thinner with more orange juice, or by adding lemon juice.

Don't pour the glaze until the cake has cooled for at least 30 minutes. Poke holes all over the top of the cake using a toothpick. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.

Uses for Pound Cake

After you've snacked on a dessert of pound cake, turn the leftovers into new dishes. Note that plain vanilla pound cake, rather than glazed cake, will work best for these uses.

  • Substitute slices of pound cake for bread when making French toast.
  • Make a trifle by layering cubes or slices of pound cake between berries and pudding. Top the dessert with whipped cream.
  • Use pound cake instead of biscuits as the base for strawberry shortcake.
  • Cut the cake into cubes and eat them with chocolate fondue.
  • Crumble dry, 2-day-old pound cake between your fingers. Spread the crumbs out in a skillet and dry toast them for a few minutes, just until they turn deep golden brown. Serve these crumbs over ice cream, mixed with berries or stirred into your morning cereal.