Perfect Buttermilk Pound Cake




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freshly baked buttermilk pound cake on a rack with knife

Perfect Buttermilk Pound Cake is that once in a lifetime recipe made with the classic ratio of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. This easy bundt cake always comes out perfect, and you’ll be baking it for years to come.

Classic pound cake, sliced

Go ahead, claim this classic buttermilk pound cake as your own

Have you always wanted a signature recipe? A recipe that you make so often you know it by heart, that you become known for in your inner circle? This classic buttermilk pound cake is one of those recipes, friends, it’s just waiting for you to try it. I highly (highly!) recommend you give it a whirl. The flavor is lovely, the texture is ‘perfect’, and it’s not difficult to make.

What you’ll need:

  • butter ~ unsalted
  • sugar ~ granulated
  • eggs ~ large
  • flour ~ all purpose
  • buttermilk ~ cultured (you can make a substitute by adding lemon juice to whole milk or half and half, and letting it sit for 15 minutes. 1 tsp lemon juice for each cup.
  • vanilla ~ good quality really does make a difference, don’t use the cheap stuff. If you feel like splurging, use a vanilla bean.
  • salt 
  • baking powder ~ traditionally pound cake used no leaveners, but I like the texture better this way.
  • powdered sugar ~ to make it pretty.

Pound Cake, sliced, on a cooling rack

The secrets to perfect pound cake

I’m an absolute obsessive about cake crumb (for non bakers, that translates to texture) It’s everything. I like it to be visible and slightly loose, even in a dense cake like a pound cake. Not too dry, not oily, a nice crumb signals a perfect bite of cake more than anything else.

All your ingredients need to be at room temperature for best success: read about my easy hacks for getting cold ingredients up to temperature for baking in this post.

This pound cake is based on the classic proportions that have stood the test of time, that is: equal weights butter, eggs, flour, and sugar.  It’s called ‘pound’ cake because traditionally the recipe called for a pound of each, but I’ve scaled it down to fit a standard bundt pan. It’s nice and generous, but won’t take all day to cook.

ingredients for classic pound cake

The one cake that needs no bells and whistles

This cake needs no glaze, sauce, or frosting; all the richness is baked right in. You can always experiment with toppings later, but for right now, all you’re going to want is a light shower of powdered sugar. It dresses up the plain brown surface of the cake and adds a sweet accent.

Let the cake cool a bit before dusting so it doesn’t melt right in.

classic pound cake with powdered sugar

Why this cake is so darned perfect (it’s the little black dress of cakes)

You really need to take a bite of a properly made old fashioned cake like this to appreciate what you’re missing in a boxed mix or store bought cake. This is what cake was meant to be: soft, dense, rich, and subtle. A treat, for sure, but never over the top.

It’s made from pantry staples. Each ingredient is identifiable and wholesome.

It’s neither dry nor oily. Not too crusty.  Not too sweet.

Everything is done in one bowl!

The recipes makes the perfect amount of batter for a standard bundt pan and it cooks in under 60 minutes.

Coffee, tea, milk, or an after dinner tipple are all appropriate with this cake.

Pound cake just out of the oven

How to get your pound cake to release from the pan perfectly

  • A newer non-stick pan helps a lot. I replace my non-stick bundt pans every couple of years because they don’t last forever.
  • Choose a simple bundt pan for pound cake: simple shapes release much easier than intricate designs.
  • Pan prep matters: butter well, then flour well. Get into all the nooks and crannies.
  • Let your cake rest for 15 minutes and then loosen around all edges with a thin blunt knife (a flexible spreader works great.) Don’t forget the inner neck, it’s a classic sticking point. Cover the pan with a plate and firmly and swiftly invert. Gently lift the pan up, if the cake is sticking, flip back over and loosen a little more.

pound cake sprinkled with powdered sugar

One of those wonderful recipes that can be played with over a lifetime. Make it a few times for loved ones and they’ll remember you for it, for sure.

Easy pound cake toppings

The beauty of pound cake is that it’s a neutral canvas ~

pound cake, sliced, on a green floral plate

tvfgi recommends: a great basic bundt pan


Bundt pans come in all sorts of wonderful shapes and sizes, which is great, except that you never know how your pan is going to work with a specific recipe.  I like to use this one from Wilton which is a basic, all purpose pan that’s sturdy, nonstick, and a standard size.  The simple fluted shape insures an easy release, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Click here for details.

 

Bodacious bundts:

freshly baked buttermilk pound cake on a rack with knife
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5 from 29 votes

Perfect Pound Cake

Perfect Buttermilk Pound Cake is that once in a lifetime recipe made with the perfect ratio of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. This easy bundt cake always comes out perfect, and you'll be baking it for years to come.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Yield 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature. (this is 3 sticks, or 12 ounces)
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12.5 ounces)
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature (12.5 ounces, weighed in their shell)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk, room temperature, or at least not cold.
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (12.5 ounces)
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F Butter and flour a standard 9-10 inch non stick bundt pan.
    prepped bundt pan
  • Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature.
    room temperature ingredients for pound cake
  • Cream the butter and sugar together for a full 5 minutes in a stand mixer, scraping down the sides a couple of times. They should get really light and fluffy. You can use electric beaters if you like.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down between each addition. Now beat a further 2-3 minutes! (A LOT of beating, I know, but it will pay off.) You should now have a very silky smooth batter.
  • With the mixer on low, blend in the extract, baking powder, and salt.
  • Alternately blend in the buttermilk and flour, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just until no dry flour remains, you can do the last bit by hand. Make sure you've incoorporated all the butter from the bottom of the bowl.
    mixing batter for pound cake
  • Turn the batter into your prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, then, without opening the oven door, turn the temperature down to 325F and bake another 25 - 30 minutes until the top is domed and springs back to the touch. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out without wet batter on it. (Tip: don't insert your toothpick directly into a crack, insert at a diagonal.) I loosely tent the cake towards the end of baking to prevent excess browning. As always, your oven or pan may vary from mine, so your baking time may be different.
    Pound cake batter in bundt pan
  • Let the pan cool for 15 minutes on a rack, then loosen all edges with a flexible spreading knife before inverting.
    pound cake cooling on a rack
  • Let cool completely on the rack. Dust with powdered sugar.
    pound cake dusted with powdered sugar
  • Tip: Don't slice your cake until you're ready to serve it, otherwise it can dry out.
    sliced pound cake

Notes

  • if you'd like to substitute milk or half and half for the buttermilk, you can.
  • if you want to substitute sour cream, I would thin it with a little water so it's more the consistency of thick cultured buttermilk.
  • As with all cakes, they will dry out once sliced and exposed to air, so slice it when you are ready to eat, not before.

 

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39 Comments

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    Please rate this recipe!




  • Reply
    Sherri
    October 25, 2020 at 10:11 am

    How long would you bake in standard loaf pans? Can it be frozen for gift giving later? If so, for how long?

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 25, 2020 at 11:03 am

      The baking time won’t be that much different, but I’d check them at 30 minutes, and then keep an eye on them. You can freeze them for up to 6 months.

  • Reply
    Nydia Gonzalez
    October 21, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    I baked this cake today..
    I replaced the milk with sour cream with a bit of water,
    I added :
    1 tablespoon lemon grinds
    1/2 tsp. Vanilla
    1/2 lemon extract

    It’s an amazing!
    Will send a picture
    Thank you so much!
    Nydia, TX

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 22, 2020 at 10:38 am

      Yay, glad to hear it!

  • Reply
    Anu
    October 20, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    5 stars
    Hi please advise if I can use thick curd instead of buttermilk and what should be the quantity

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 20, 2020 at 7:09 pm

      Hey Anu ~ Yes, you can, and use the same amount. I kind of think it might be good to thin it down just a bit with water.

  • Reply
    Sherri
    October 20, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    Hello, Is it possible to add lemon extra to get a lemony flavor? Or is there a different suggestion to incorporate lemon? Thanks.

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 20, 2020 at 3:32 pm

      There are lots of ways to add lemon to this cake. You might try making it with lemon sugar (how to make that here:https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/how-to-make-lemon-sugar-recipe/) which is basically lemon zest combined with sugar. You could definitely try some good lemon extract, you could also do a lemon glaze to top it off, just mix fresh lemon juice with powdered sugar.

      • Reply
        Sherri
        October 22, 2020 at 12:08 pm

        Thanks! I am going to try it tonight!

      • Reply
        Sherri
        October 22, 2020 at 12:10 pm

        Oh geeze! I forgot to ask if I use lemon extract do I omit the vanilla?

        • Reply
          Sue
          October 22, 2020 at 1:15 pm

          Yes, I would.

  • Reply
    Kathryn de Wit
    October 20, 2020 at 9:56 am

    5 stars
    Forgot to rate the recipe ?

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 20, 2020 at 10:02 am

      🙂 thanks I appreciate it!

  • Reply
    Kathy
    October 20, 2020 at 9:54 am

    Greeting6 from George South Africa, I have just made this Pound cake and it came out beautifully, had to bake it a bit longer, but that’s not a problem. So easy to make and my husband’s favorite ???

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 20, 2020 at 10:02 am

      Kathy I love it when readers make the recipes right away, I’m so happy you loved this. I’m honored that you visit from such a distance, welcome!

  • Reply
    Linda McCawley
    October 20, 2020 at 7:12 am

    5 stars
    I love your recipes, so easy and come out delicious. Can’t wait to try this one.

  • Reply
    Shelley
    October 20, 2020 at 6:54 am

    5 stars
    Your description of this cake is practically poetic! I mean, a “once in a lifetime recipe” that’s sure to become a “signature.” Who doesn’t want that, right? Thanks for all the little tips, so I’m sure to get this “little black dress of cakes” just as perfect as yours always is! (But don’t worry – of course I’ll tell people where I got the recipe! 😉 )

  • Reply
    Sonal
    October 20, 2020 at 6:50 am

    5 stars
    I got to try this one…looks super moist. It’s a perfect season to enjoy a thick slice of pound cake with a cup of coffee..

  • Reply
    Beth
    October 20, 2020 at 6:23 am

    5 stars
    This looks so delicious and yummy! I can’t wait to make this! My family is going to love this recipe! I’m so excited!

  • Reply
    Jess
    October 20, 2020 at 6:04 am

    5 stars
    A classic recipe that everyone needs to have on hand!

  • Reply
    Erica Schwarz
    October 20, 2020 at 6:01 am

    5 stars
    This came out perfect and I followed your directions to a tee – including making sure everything was room temperature. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 20, 2020 at 6:09 am

      I’m thrilled Erica, hope you enjoy it for years to come 🙂

  • Reply
    sarah
    October 19, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    This needs salt. Guessing 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt. Made it today, took a bite and instantly missed the salt 🙁

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 19, 2020 at 6:57 pm

      You can definitely do that, I believe no recipe is right until it’s to your exact taste.

  • Reply
    MeganT
    October 19, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    5 stars
    Sue I know this has to be a winner, I have made so many of your cakes to great success. In fact I’m known as quite a baker in these parts because of you 😉

  • Reply
    Jan Zelfer-redmond
    October 19, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    I made this pound cake today and just want to let you know that 45 minutes is no where near long enough for baking. The toothpick test came out clean but after I let it cool for 15 minutes and then tried to dump it out gooey batter oozed out.
    I returned it to the oven for another 25 minutes but I don’t know if it will be edible. I’m fairly certain my oven is pretty accurate.

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 19, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      Hi Jan ~ when a reader has trouble with a new recipe sometimes I’ll jump right in and test it an additional time, which I did, tonight. It baked in the same time for me. So, if your oven is accurate, then the only other thing I can think of is maybe your pan is smaller than mine. Bundt pans are frustratingly different, and even small size discrepancies can make a difference in baking time. That’s why I try to mention or link to my exact pan. Hope you give it another try and bake just a little bit longer.

  • Reply
    Rosa Cottrell
    October 19, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    Sue, I just copied your Buttermilk Pound Cake but I need clarity on the timing. It was printed that it would take 60 mins. Is that total time. Becsuse later in the baking it said 20 mins. On 3t0 temp. Then 20-25 mins. On 325 temp. Please clarify total baking time.

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 19, 2020 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks Rosa, that’s 45 baking time, but remember different ovens and pans can require different baking times. Hope you love it!

  • Reply
    Leslie
    October 19, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    What high altitude adjustments are needed to get these beautkful results from your recipe at 6,000 ft?

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 19, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      Hi Leslie ~ since I’m not a high altitude baker I always refer my readers to King Arthur Flour’s instructions, here: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/learn/resources/high-altitude-baking. There are so many little tweaks you can make, especially at 6,000 feet including a slight increase in oven temp, a slight decrease in baking time, a little increase in liquids and flour, and slight decrease in sugar. You’ll be decreasing your leavener as well. It’s a chemistry experiment!

  • Reply
    Susa
    October 19, 2020 at 8:07 am

    I can’t wait to try this lovely recipe this week. Have you ever substituted using goat milk, instead of cow?

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 19, 2020 at 8:11 am

      Gosh I haven’t tried, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use it.

  • Reply
    low and slow
    October 19, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Will my Nordic Ware Platinum Anniversary Bundt work with this recipe? It has a 10-15 cup capacity.Thank you for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 19, 2020 at 7:54 am

      My pan is a 10 cup, so you should be good.

  • Reply
    Dayna
    October 19, 2020 at 7:24 am

    This looks divine! You know someone is going to ask, so it might as well be me: Have you tried baking this in a different type of pan? I moved recently and my bundt pan was a victim of the pre-move purge.

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 19, 2020 at 7:39 am

      This will work great in loaf pans. It will depend on the size of your loaves, slightly smaller than a 9×5 would be best, but it should make 2.

  • Reply
    BT Newman
    October 19, 2020 at 7:11 am

    What if you don’t have a bundt pan?
    How would you make a loaf pan/pans work?
    Also how long does this stay fresh if you want to gift it?
    Thank you – Love your recipes!

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 19, 2020 at 7:46 am

      This will work in loaf pans, I believe it should make 2 loaves, but it might work best in smaller loaf pans, like 8 1/2×4 1/2 or similar.