This recipe for Buttermilk Pound Cake creates a moist, tender, light (but still deliciously dense) cake that’s filled with amazing flavor.
I just love a pound cake. There’s something magical about the simplicity of a perfectly baked, deliciously flavored pound cake. But I love really simple things like that. My family often jokingly calls me the “Mayor of Vanillatown” because of my love of simple flavors. (No offense to the Mayor of Flavortown, Mr. Guy Fieri. 😆)
The name pound cake comes from the fact that the original recipe, thought to be northern European, contained a pound each of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. Fortunately, we’ve since adapted the recipe a bit.
When it comes to making pound cake, there are two major issues, from my perspective.
The first is ingredients.
The ratios of fat to flour to sugar remain relatively the same but variations on ingredients range from butter to shortening to cream cheese to sour cream and milk to buttermilk to water – they’re all over the place. And that’s ok, for the most part. It’s one of those things where you just have to decide what “tastes” like pound cake to you and realize that each ingredient presents certain challenges and advantages.
The other issue with pound cake making is the relatively high margin of error. For me, this is the big one.
- Under baking a cake means you’ll end up with gummy wet spots in the cake. It can also cause the cake to shrink or fall after baking.
- Over baking can result in the cake getting too dark and create a tough crust. Some say it can cause the cake to stick to the pan, as well.
- Mixing the cake too little can result in a cake that is dense and heavy.
- Over-mixing can whip too much air into the eggs resulting in a cake that can overflow its pan and can even cause the crust to separate from the cake.
- Improper measuring can cause you to end up adding too much or too little flour which can cause the cake to fail.
- Using ingredients that aren’t all room temperature can result in the cake not mixing together well enough. This can create all kinds of problems.
- Not greasing the pan correctly can mean your cake sticks to the pan.
Any number of these things can derail your pound cake plans. It can really make your head spin! So, it’s important to have a reliable recipe that is detailed enough to get you through the sticky parts, but also not so verbose that it’s intimidating.
I’m hoping you’re going to find this recipe just that.
We’ve worked for weeks to get this one right. Testing cake after cake. Variation after variation. To get it to the point where we feel it needs to be. I think we made something close to 8 different versions.
But I’m just going to be honest with you… They don’t always turn out perfectly. We operate in a pretty controlled environment and have some serious recipe development experience under our belts, but things don’t always turn out as planned.
In fact, we had a little trouble getting this cake to release from the pan. We tried all types of bundt pans from brand new nonstick pans to 30-year-old pans from my grandmother. We tested every tip, trick, and suggestion out there. We used baking spray with flour, shortening and flour, shortening and sugar, butter and flour, even cake goop (a homemade cake release).
In our testing, we found the newer pan that was greased with shortening and flour to offer the best results. While the grease and flour method has produced similar positive results in the past for us, I usually have better results with cake releasing from the antique pans over the new ones.
I’ve been racking my brain as to why this is the case, but can’t seem to be able to put my finger on it. Baking isn’t my strongest area, so maybe some of the more experienced bakers can chime in and help us out a bit in the comments below.
Regardless, I’ve made quite a few pound cakes in my day, so here are my tips for getting your pound cake to turn out perfectly every time…
Buttermilk Pound Cake
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease and flour a 10 to 12-cup bundt pan. Set aside.
- Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just enough to fully incorporate each egg after adding. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together.
- Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the butter mixture, alternately. Start with 1/3 of the dry, then half the milk, another 1/3 of the dry, the other 1/2 of the milk, then the remaining dry. Mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.
- Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix to combine.
- Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the countertop to force air bubbles to the top of the batter. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Bake times may vary**. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then place a plate or platter over the pan and invert to turn the cake out onto the plate. Allow to cool completely. Slice and serve. Store covered on the counter for a few days or in the refrigerator for longer.