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What is a Pound Cake?

M.C. Huguelet
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pound cake is a dessert cake popular in the US — especially in the South — as well as some parts of Europe and Latin America. It is often loaf-shaped and is golden yellow in color, with a rich, buttery flavor and a medium to heavy density. Pound cake derives its name from the fact that it traditionally contains one pound (453.59 grams) of each of its four ingredients: flour, eggs, sugar, and butter. Many variations on this traditional recipe have been developed over time, most of which alter the texture or flavor of the cake. A great many of these variations preserve the practice of using equal measures of the recipe’s main ingredients, however.

The substantial quantities of ingredients called for by a traditional pound cake recipe results in a fairly large cake that may turn stale before it can be fully consumed. In order to avoid waste, many modern bakers choose to make smaller cakes by reducing the quantity of each of these ingredients while maintaining a one-to-one ratio. For instance, rather than using one pound (453.59 grams) of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar, a baker might use half a pound (226.79 grams) of each of these.

Traditional pound cake can grow dry quite quickly. In order to promote a moist texture that resists dryness, certain cooks substitute alternate ingredients for some or all of the cake’s butter. Common substitutions include vegetable oil and sour cream. While vegetable oil can create a very moist cake, many find it lacks the rich, pleasant flavor of butter. Sour cream typically creates a moist cake with a tangy flavor, which some find unpalatable, but others feel is an improvement on the taste of normal pound cake.

Other pound cake recipes call for the addition of various flavoring agents to give the cake’s taste an additional layer of complexity. Two of the most common flavoring extracts used in pound cake are vanilla and almond extracts. Also commonly used are fruit juices and extracts, such as lemon, strawberry, or pineapple flavoring.

European interpretations of the traditional pound cake often call for the addition of finely chopped dried fruits, such as raisins, currants, and glacé cherries, to the cake’s batter. Some recipes also incorporate nuts, which are either baked into the cake or used as part of a topping mixture. Still others call for the inclusion of cocoa powder, which infuses the cake with a chocolate flavor.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M.C. Huguelet
By M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide range of publications, including DelightedCooking. With degrees in Writing and English, she brings a unique perspective and a commitment to clean, precise copy that resonates with readers. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By aviva — On Aug 21, 2011

@Sierra02- It sounds to me like you could just make a plain old pound cake and then drizzle the top of your homemade pound cake with rum icing.

I've seen other recipes that use rum, lime juice and confectioners sugar for their glaze and they poke several holes in the top of the cake so the syrup will drizzle down into it and then sprinkle toasted almonds and coconut on top.

By ellafarris — On Aug 21, 2011

@Sierra02 - I have been on the same quest after my daughter gave me one when she came back from her honeymoon in the Bahamas. I could only find the large Tortuga rum cakes online that sell around thirty dollars a piece, but like you, I wanted to make my own.

The closest thing I could find is to make a simple pound cake using two cups of cake flour, one and a half cup of sugar, four teaspoons of baking powder, one teaspoon of salt, one half cup of butter and three tablespoons of vegetable oil.

After you mix together all of those ingredients then you add a package of vanilla pudding mix, a half cup of milk, four eggs, a half cup of vegetable oil, one teaspoon of vanilla and a half cup of rum.

Pour in a greased Bundt pan and bake for fifty-five minutes at three hundred twenty five degrees or until golden brown.

For the glaze you need to boil a half cup of butter, one fourth cup of water and one cup of sugar. Reduce the heat to a simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved then remove the mixture from the heat and add one half cup of rum.

Add the syrupy glaze to the cake while it's still cooling in the pan, you may have to add it slowly and repeat it several times to fully soak through.

By Sierra02 — On Aug 20, 2011

My husband took me to the Cayman Islands for our ten year wedding anniversary and ever since then I've been craving their wonderful tropical cakes.

Does anyone have a recipe for rum pound cake that's made from scratch? I've used a boxed cake mix before, but it just wasn't as moist a pound cake as the ones I had in the Caribbean.

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide...
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