10 Steps to the Perfect Pound Cake

August 7, 2012 | By | Comments (24)
Pound Cake

Two-Step Pound Cake Recipe, Photo by Beth Dreiling

Our Test Kitchen breaks down some critical steps that can make the difference between a baking disaster and pound cake perfection.

1. Prepare the recipe as directed, and use name-brand ingredients. Store brands of sugar are often more finely ground than name brands, yielding more sugar per cup, which can cause the cake to fall. Store brands of butter may contain more liquid fat and flours more hard wheat, making the cake heavy.

2. Measure accurately. Be sure to use dry measuring cups for flour and sugar. Spoon flour into the cups and lightly level with the straight edge of a small offset spatula or knife. Extra sugar or leavening causes a cake to fall; extra flour makes it dry.

3. For maximum volume, have ingredients at room temperature. We like to premeasure our ingredients and assemble them in the order listed. That way, if interrupted, we’re less likely to make a mistake.

4. Beat softened butter (and cream cheese or vegetable shortening) at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. This can take from 1 to 7 minutes, depending on the power of your mixer. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until light and fluffy. These steps are important because they whip air into the cake batter so it will rise during baking.

5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yolk disappears. Overbeating the eggs may cause the batter to overflow the sides of the pan when baked or create a fragile crust that crumbles and separates from the cake as it cools.

6. To prevent the batter from curdling, always add the dry ingredients alternately with the liquid, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until blended after each addition. Overmixing the batter once the flour has been added creates a tough, rubbery cake.

7. Be sure to use the correct type of cake pan. Pound cake recipes calling for a tube pan won’t always fit in a Bundt pan. (Tube pans have straight, high sides, while Bundt pans are more shallow and fluted.) Although both may measure 10 inches in diameter, each holds a different amount of batter. We also found that some 10-inch tube pans hold 12 cups of batter while others hold 14 or 16 cups. The same pound cake recipe rises and bakes differently in each pan. When unsure of size, use a cup measure to fill the cake pan with water.

8. Grease cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, and always dust with flour—a slippery surface keeps the batter from rising to its full volume.

9. Place the cake pan in the center of the oven, and keep the door closed until the minimum baking time has elapsed. If the cake requires more baking, gently close the oven door as soon as possible after testing to prevent jarring and loss of heat—both can cause a cake to fall if it’s not done.

10. After removing from the oven, place the pound cake, right side up, in the pan on a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes away from drafts. This allows the cake to become firm enough to remove from the pan without breaking apart. Cooling too long in the pan will cause the cake to be damp and stick to the pan. Remove pound cake from pan to wire rack, and let cool completely.

Praline Bundt Cake

Photo by Jennifer Davick

Ready to put these tips to the test? Head over to our list of Must-Try Pound Cake Recipes


  1. Eileen Simmons

    Should I use Pam spray for pound cake and I heard that you could put sugar in tube pan before adding batter? Seems these two things are not working too well.

    May 2, 2017 at 7:31 pm
  2. Sandra

    My cakes sticks in bottom of tube pan. I greased and floured. Baked @325 for an hour and a half. Should I bake less time or more time?

    February 9, 2017 at 1:49 pm
  3. Elizabeth

    Oh my gosh!!! I’ve FINALLY found a pound cake that rises nicely in my gas oven and tastes absolutely heavenly! One comment – I let the cake bake for the full 1.5 hour, instead of reducing the time to 1 hour ( as recommended by the instructions for gas ovens). The cake would not have been done after baking for only one hour. Moist and delicious!

    February 2, 2017 at 7:14 pm
  4. DW

    My old fashion pound cake cracks around top edge after cooling 10 minutes in pan I have a. Cake card board cut down with a whole in the middle to lay on top of cake while flipping over then cracked ring will separate from cake. I don’t think I am beating eggs to long many to fast what’s my problem ..or what am I doing wrong DW

    January 10, 2017 at 1:02 am
  5. Kickstands and Bundt Pans-Pound Cakes for Christmas – kickstandsandfarmstands.com

    […] Some large pound cakes call for a tube pan (straight edges rather than fluted but still with the hole in the center). If you want some tips on whether or not to use a Bundt or a tube pan, check this website. […]

    December 14, 2016 at 11:38 am
  6. Jacquie Ellis

    What’s the best way to cut a tube pound cake to get the most slices?

    November 29, 2016 at 8:34 am
  7. Juanita

    I’ve used this recipe for many years but lately it seems I can’t get it to cook all the way through, why is it gummy when I slice? Seems it hasn’t cooked well done. What rack should I cook it on? What am I doing wrong?

    November 22, 2016 at 8:43 pm
  8. Ellen Feibish

    My cake stuck to the pan and I had trouble getting it out of the pan. Needless to say it looked damaged. I used a spray product instead of Crisco.

    July 6, 2016 at 8:19 am
  9. Fran

    My pound cakes are not cooking in the middle, they rise and are pretty all around but right before time to take it out of the oven it falls in the middle and is gummy. My cakes have always been light and fluffy. I have used this recipe for years and never had the problem. I am now using a gas oven, Does the temperature need to be adjusted. I have baked on 325 for years. Please help, my cakes were the family favorites.

    May 15, 2016 at 6:55 pm
  10. kenneth powell

    We were mystified as to why the cake sometimes overflowed the pan and into the oven! I think we over beating the eggs! Thanks so much for the advice!

    April 15, 2016 at 2:28 pm
  11. Diana

    Can leave in a pound cake in the pan for 3 to 4 hours cost to take to dry out

    January 3, 2016 at 10:28 am
  12. Angela Shew

    I made a pound cake today following the instructions to a t…but it ran over in the oven and then stuck to my greased and floured pan! I can say it was a mess…but a tastie one! I know now not to fill the pan even close to the top..and grease better i guess.

    November 9, 2015 at 2:39 pm
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  14. Fran

    My pound cakes are not cooking in the middle, they are gummy. but the outside is pretty and brown, what am I doing wrong? I am now using a gas oven should the temp. need to be
    lower? Also I am using a cake flour, do I still need to use a leavening>>

    July 16, 2015 at 2:50 pm
  15. Pound Cake Trifle |

    […] some great tips on baking pound cakes, read this Southern Living article and for hints on how to get the finished pound cake out of the pan without causing a dessert […]

    May 13, 2015 at 12:31 pm
  16. Margaret C. Truell

    Will a small pan of water in the oven while I am baking a pound cake, make it more moist ?And just for info, the recipe for the Southern Living Two Step Pound cake is easy and great. I have tweeked the ingredients a little, but the mixing method is sooo good.

    October 17, 2014 at 8:09 am
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    October 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm
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    September 28, 2014 at 9:50 am
  19. AntBee

    When I turn out my pound cake the sides crust sticks to the pan but the rest of the cake comes out perfectly. What am I doing wrong. Everything is perfect excep for that. I love the sides to have a nice crust around it. HELP!!!!! 🙂

    April 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm
  20. Irena Dansby

    I use a spray to butter my pan and sprinkle with sugar it want let the cake stick. Softsilk cake flour I have found to be the best flour to cook with.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:55 am
  21. Amanda

    I want to try my hand at making a pound cake this holiday season but in the directions for the recipes it says to use a heavy duty mixer, I don’t have that and they are too expensive, will a hand mixer work just as well?

    November 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm
  22. Sara Claro

    @Jan: It’s alright to start and stop the mixer. We stop it occasionally to scrape down the sides and make sure it’s incorporated.

    @Odomgirl8: Our recipes with complete directions and ingredients are here: http://www.southernliving.com/food/entertaining/must-try-pound-cake-recipes-00417000076858

    August 8, 2012 at 11:10 am
  23. Odomgirl8@yahoo.com

    I don’t have the complete directions and how many ingredients to put in it. Then I will test to see if it is as good as mines.Cream Cheese Pound Cake
    Rena’s Style

    August 7, 2012 at 9:23 pm
  24. Jan Mitchell

    I have also been told to leave the mixer on the entire time – do not start and stop. It is a good idea to have all ingredients measured and ready before beginning.

    August 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm

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