Whether you bought a plain pound cake or baked one from scratch, you can use it to jump start dessert. The dense cake gets its name from recipes to make it, which called for a pound each of flour, butter, sugar and eggs; more recent versions have leavening and a smaller proportion of ingredients.

Serve a slice of the buttery loaf with a glass of milk for a snack, or dress it up with an almost infinite array of additions such as chocolate sauce, custard, fruit or pudding.

Vanilla pound cake can serve as the foundation for a quick fruit shortcake. Simply top slices with a smattering of strawberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines or raspberries, and whipped cream. A fruit puree also makes for an elegant presentation. Serve slices of cake topped with a tablespoon or two of warmed jam or a homemade puree made by boiling together cut up fresh fruit, sugar and water, and then straining.

Pound cake can be one of many ingredients included in a classic English dessert known as a trifle. It’s traditionally made with lady fingers or crispy biscuits, but you can layer cubes of pound cake instead with a splash of liqueur, custard or pudding, fruit, chocolate shavings and whipped cream. Try a variety of combinations:

  • Coffee liqueur, chocolate pudding, fresh raspberries and homemade whipped cream
  • Lemon curd, fresh raspberries and whipped cream 
  • Chopped fresh peaches, peach brandy, raspberries, vanilla custard and whipped cream.

It’s fine if the layers blend together — that’s the whole idea of the dessert. Make trifle in one large bowl, or in individual parfait glasses.

Line a baking pan with slices of prepared pound cake, and then fill with ice cream, nuts, berries and any other ingredients that might taste good in a sundae. Freeze and slice to serve. Be creative with combinations:

  • Vanilla cake with vanilla ice cream, chopped mango and shaved coconut 
  • Chocolate cake with coffee ice cream and chopped chocolate-coated espresso beans 
  • Butter cake with vanilla ice cream, slivered almonds and strawberries. 

Make the cake a few days in advance, or you can make quick versions by serving slices of pound cake with a scoop of ice cream and toppings.

Tips

Line the baking pan with wax paper so the cake easily slips out for serving.

Pound cake can be broiled or grilled to create an irresistible crispy outside for its soft interior. Simply brush slices with melted butter and heat for 30 to 60 seconds on each side. Then top the grilled or broiled slices with fruit, fruit puree, whipped cream, caramel or chocolate sauce, or ice cream. Or chop the toasted slices into cubes and dip into a chocolate fondue — although you don’t even have to toast it before dipping it in chocolate.