Recipes » Dessert Recipes » Never Fail Pound Cake

Never Fail Pound Cake

A classic, old South pound cake recipe with the tang of buttermilk.
4.9 from 8 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Never Fail Pound Cake - a classic old southern recipe for pound cake with the tang of buttermilk. https://www.lanascooking.com/never-fail-pound-cake-with-warm-berry-compote/

Never Fail Pound Cake – a classic old southern recipe for pound cake with the tang of buttermilk.

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. With all due respect to the ladies of the First Baptist Church, I made a few changes to the original.

Never Fail Pound Cake - a classic old southern recipe for pound cake with the tang of buttermilk. https://www.lanascooking.com/never-fail-pound-cake-with-warm-berry-compote/

And 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’.

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.

Thankfully, bakers lightened the recipe over time but still kept the delicious flavor that everyone loves. I can’t think of many comfort food recipes that are better than a good pound cake!

About the Ingredients

Ingredients needed to make the pound cake.
  • 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.
  • Salt
  • Vanilla Extract – choose a quality brand for best flavor.

How to Make Never Fail Pound Cake

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

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.

The photo below 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.

Prepared tube pan.

Cream the Butter and Sugar

Creamed butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.

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

Adding eggs to the butter and sugar mixture.

Add the room temperature eggs, one at a time, beating well after the addition of each egg. I crack all my eggs into a small bowl and pour them from the bowl into the mixer.

Egg, butter, and sugar mixture in a bowl.

The butter, sugar, and egg mixture should be fairly smooth in texture and uniform in color.

Add Wet and Dry Ingredients Alternately

Buttermilk and baking soda in a measuring cup.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, dissolve the soda into the buttermilk. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt.

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.

Wet and dry mixtures ready to add to butter-sugar mixture.

Now add the buttermilk-soda and flour to the creamed mixture alternately beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix well after each addition. 

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.

Mixing the pound cake batter.

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 :-)

Stir in the vanilla flavoring.

Pour Batter into the Pan

Pound cake batter added to prepared 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

Cake cooling in pan on a rack.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes.

Cake cooling on a wire rack.

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 Compote

A slice of pound cake on a serving plate with ice cream and 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.

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Recipe

Never Fail Pound Cake - a classic old southern recipe for pound cake with the tang of buttermilk. https://www.lanascooking.com/never-fail-pound-cake-with-warm-berry-compote/

Never Fail Pound Cake

A classic, old South pound cake recipe with the tang of buttermilk.
4.88 from 8 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 192kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

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
  • 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

Instructions

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 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.

Notes

To make adding the eggs easier, crack all the eggs into a small bowl and pour from the bowl into the mixer.
Make sure your baking soda is fresh. Its reaction with the buttermilk is what makes this cake rise.
When adding the wet and dry ingredients, add 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.
Pound cake is very versatile and can be served in numerous ways. Serve it with the compote as shown, use it for the base of a fantastic strawberry shortcake, or make my 1960s Flashback Baked Alaska.
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.
Troubleshooting – 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.
Cake too brown? That means you probably cooked it a little too long or your oven was too hot. 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? 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.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 84mg | Potassium: 73mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 94IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg

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 health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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25 Comments

  1. My Grandmother’s pound cake has no leavening and you have to beat air into it. Her directions, pre-electric mixer, detailed exactly how many vigorous stirs you had to make with your spoon for the recipe to work. I’m definitely going to try this one out.

    By the way, Cooks Test Kitchen did the taste testing on vanilla with high end and low end vanilla‘s. Their expert tasting panel picked the cheapest, most artificial, vanilla on the shelf. Kind of disappointing don’t you think?

    1. I do hope you’ll try the recipe, Merrill. I think it’s delicious. Interesting about the vanilla. I haven’t used commercial vanilla extract in years, only Albany Drug Co small batch vanilla. It has a flavor all its own. Very pronounced vanilla flavor with a smokey background note similar to a fine cigar.

  2. Just put this in the oven…. it’s always a winner. I’ll let you know how today’s version comes out. BTW – I generally use about 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract, and about 1 t. almond extract. Like the extra zing.

    Miss P

    1. Update – fabulous!! Moist and flavorful. I better take part of it to somebody tomorrow. Really. Too much temptation for that to be in the house!

      Miss P

  3. I am not fond of bundt pans either–too hard to wash up for one thing! I also have a very old dented tube pan. It belonged to my grandmother and it is my go-to pan. I am 63, so this is an OLD pan.

  4. Hi Lana, Recipe looks amazingly easy. I really love your site. I do however would like to know if i could make a lemon pound cake with this recipe?

  5. I would love to make this as a chocolate pound cake. Do you know how much and what kind of chocolate (powder vs baking chocolate)? This is similar to my sour cream recipe but with less eggs and butter so hopefully a little healthier.

    1. Not as far as texture – just a slight difference in taste. Southerners tend to use salted butter for everything.

  6. I made this cake for Christmas and it turned out dense and some what tough. I’ve been baking pound cakes for 20+ yrs. I used a kitchenaide stand mixer, I did not over beat, but I did cream butter, unsalted butter by the way, a minute or so before adding sugar, I do not think that mattered but any suggestions.

    1. Jerry – I can’t imagine what went wrong. I’ve made this cake probably 50 times and it’s never come out wrong for me. The only thing I can think of is that possibly your baking soda wasn’t fresh? Its reaction with the buttermilk is what gives the cake its rise.

  7. O my heavens, that cake looks positively perfect!! Buttermilk makes it a MUST try! I adore buttermilk. Thank you!

  8. Lana, You mentioned you didn’t know what they cooked the old fashioned one pound cake recipe in. Growing up in SC my mom, and relatives used the enamel dish pans to cook the big cakes in. They had a pan just for this purpose. They cooked the holiday nut cake, raisin cake and the fruitcakes in them. Mom would wrap the cake in wax paper and then wrap in newspaper and then wrap in old towels or old cloths of any kind and then store them in lard cans for up to a month before Christmas
    Eve. We would beg for a tiny slice, but never was it cut until Christmas Eve. What a great memory. IF there was a tube pan at that time they could not afford them. Love reading and copying your recipes. Thank you for your work. I also love to cook.
    Judy English

    1. Well, I’ll be darned, Judy! I would never have thought that you could actually cook in those old enamel dish pans. Thanks for sharing that!

  9. WOW!

    I sure wish I had your tube pan~

    I, too, can’t stand the bundt pans for some reason. To me a pound cake should be made in a tube pan!

    Been looking all over for a tube pan because I lost mine a few years ago by allowing someone to borrow it, and I never got it back. It baked the best pound cakes to perfection.

    Seems they just don’t sell old fashioned tube pans any longer. All I find are angel food pans. If anyone knows where they still sell a good, solid, one piece, heavy tube pan, please let me know :)

    Your cake looks absolutely delicious! I am drooling over my keyboard!

    Thanks a bunch

    1. I’ve seen them pretty regularly at Goodwill and other thrift stores. Their housewares section can be a gold mine for old reliable cook and bake-ware.

    2. Hello my name is Efigenia i am a pound cake lover make it for all my friends they keep asking for more about the tube pans i have a few maybe to many but i bougth mine at the second hand stores like Good Well even Walmart have it try it if you can,t find -it ask someone who works there enjoy your pound cakes its my favorite and all my family and friends have yourself a healthy happy day

  10. I made your cake this afternoon, and took it out of the oven as guests dropped in. We had some with coffee while it was still warm. Accolades all around! However, I did use a bundt pan (somehow, I never received a tube pan). Go figure.

    Thanks!

    Miss P