Discover the secrets for baking my Never Fail Pound Cake with the delicious tang of buttermilk. Get expert tips, troubleshooting advice, and serving ideas for this classic Southern dessert.
I’ve used this Never Fail Pound Cake recipe for as long as I can remember. The original recipe came from the Colquitt, Georgia, First Baptist Church cookbook. And, with all due respect to the ladies of the First Baptist Church, I made a few changes to the original.
To tell the truth, I think this recipe makes the best pound cake I’ve ever had. It’s moist. It’s buttery. And the buttermilk gives it an extra pleasant sumthin’-sumthin’ in the background.
The old recipes for pound cake, originating in the early 1700s in northern Europe, called for one pound each of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs and no leavening at all. Can you imagine how dense that cake was?! A pound of eggs is about 8 to 9 large eggs, and a pound of butter is four of our current day sticks. Wow.
🛒 Ingredient Notes
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- Butter – have the butter, eggs, and buttermilk at room temperature before starting the recipe; sitting them out on the countertop for about 30-45 minutes is usually adequate.
- Sugar – white granulated sugar.
- Eggs – you’ll need large eggs.
- Baking Soda – the reaction between the baking soda and buttermilk is what provides the levening for this recipe.
- Buttermilk – see the note for the baking soda above.
- All-Purpose Flour – I always use White Lily brand flour; it’s a southern flour that produces an exceptionally tender crumb in baked goods.
- Vanilla Extract – choose a quality brand for best flavor.
🥄 How to Make Never Fail Pound Cake
Preheat the Oven and Prep the Pan
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Butter or grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan.
👉 Personal Note: The photo above is my old, old tube pan. I don’t remember where this pan came from, but I have some kind of strange attachment to it. I also have an aversion to bundt pans. Just can’t stand them. I don’t know why. My old tube pan has more dents in it than my daughter’s first car but I have not found a replacement for it so I just keep using it.
Cream the Butter and Sugar
- Add the room temperature butter and the sugar into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat for several minutes until the mixture looks light and fluffy.
Add the Eggs
- Add the room temperature eggs, one at a time, beating well after the addition of each egg.
👉 PRO TIP: I crack all the eggs into a small bowl and pour them from the bowl into the mixer. The butter, sugar, and egg mixture should be fairly smooth in texture and uniform in color.
Add Wet and Dry Ingredients Alternately
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, dissolve the soda into the buttermilk. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt.
👉 PRO TIP: One really important note: make sure your baking soda is fresh. Its reaction with the buttermilk is what makes this cake rise, so you don’t want to use the soda from that two-year-old box that’s been in the back of your refrigerator. Ok? You’ll know your soda is fresh if the volume of buttermilk increases pretty quickly from just 1 cup to about 1 1/2 cups.
- Now add the buttermilk-soda and flour to the creamed mixture alternately beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla flavoring.
👉 PRO TIP: The way I add the ingredients is one-third of the flour, one-half of the buttermilk, another third of the flour and the other half of the buttermilk, and finally the remaining flour. It doesn’t have to be exactly thirds and halves, just a rough estimate is good enough.
👉 PRO TIP: After the final addition of flour, mix until the ingredients are well combined but don’t over do it. Do be sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to get everything incorporated. It’s okay if you spill flour all over your mixer, too 😊.
Pour Batter into the Pan
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the Cake
- Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes or until a tester inserted halfway between the center and outside edge comes out clean.
Cool the Cake
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely on a rack.
By the way, those cracks on the top are completely typical of pound cakes. They form because with a dense batter the exterior cooks first, rises and causes a crack in the center. I actually think they’re kind of pretty myself.
Make the Optional Berry Compote
- If you’d like to serve your pound cake with a warm berry compote, you’ll simply place the berries, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring it just to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until thickened.
A little scoop of vanilla ice cream never hurt anything either!
🍽️ Serving Ideas
You can do lots of different things with my Never Fail Pound Cake. You can serve it with the compote as I’ve shown, use it for the base of a fantastic strawberry shortcake, or make my 1960s Flashback Baked Alaska.
Or, you can do like BeeBop and I do sometimes and slice and toast it (yes, with a little butter) for breakfast. What? You never heard of pound cake toast? You really should try it.
🎂 Cake Storage
For the short term, and let’s be honest this cake never makes it past three days in our house, store the cake at room temperature in an airtight cake keeper. If you do need to freeze the cake, wrap it very closely in plastic wrap first and then in a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to three months.
⚠️ Troubleshooting Tips
The type of flour you use in this recipe does matter. You want to use plain all-purpose flour and not cake flour. Cake flour is too delicate to support the dense batter of a pound cake.
And then there’s the question of whether or not to sift your flour. You certainly can if you want to, but most modern flours don’t really need it. They’re manufactured to be ready to use right out of the package.
Cake too brown? That means you probably cooked it a little too long or your oven was too hot. You should regularly check your oven with a thermometer to make sure it’s cooking at the correct temperature. Start checking the cake at the 50-minute baking point and be ready to remove it from the oven when it’s done.
Cake too dry? Well, that’s happened to all of us at one time or another, hasn’t it? But don’t despair, all is not lost! To perk up your too dry cake, moisten a paper towel and place it on a plate with a slice of cake on top. Microwave for 10 seconds and serve immediately. Or, alternately, place the entire cake in a plastic bag with a couple of slices of white bread. After a few hours the cake will have absorbed the moisture from bread. And, if all else fails, just top with plenty of ice cream or whipped cream.
❓ Questions About Never Fail Pound Cake
While you could technically substitute margarine or butter substitutes, I strongly recommend using real butter for the best flavor and texture.
Tube pans have a central tube with straight, high sides, while bundt pans have decorative fluting and a central tube. Either can be used for this recipe, but make sure to grease and flour them thoroughly.
It’s best to stick with regular buttermilk for this recipe. Low-fat versions will alter the cake’s texture and flavor.
Yes, it’s entirely normal for pound cakes to crack on top. The dense batter causes the exterior to cook first and rise, which results in cracks. They just add character to the cake!
More Questions? I’m happy to help!
If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Never Fail Pound Cake
For the Cake:
- 1 cup butter room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs room temperature
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Warm Berry Compote
- 2 cups frozen mixed berries
- ¼ cup sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan.
- Cream butter and sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- In a small bowl or measurig cup, dissolve soda in buttermilk. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt.
- Add buttermilk and flour to creamed mixture alternately beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix well after each addition. Stir in vanilla flavoring.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from pan and cool completely on a rack.
For the (optional) Warm Berry Compote:
- Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil over medium to medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes until thickened.
- Make sure the baking soda is fresh. Its reaction with the buttermilk is what makes this cake rise.
- Storage – For the short term, store the cake at room temperature in an airtight cake keeper. If you do need to freeze the cake, wrap it very closely in plastic wrap first and then in a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to three months.
- The type of flour you use in this recipe does matter. You want to use plain all-purpose flour and not cake flour. Cake flour is too delicate to support the dense batter of a pound cake.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
— This post was originally published on March 15, 2009. It has been updated with additional information.