Buttermilk pound cake is one of those classic Southern desserts that is all at once elegant and yet unapologetically casual. Made in a fancy bundt pan, this buttermilk pound cake is dressed up with a sweet cream glaze making it appropriate for your best guests while the basic ingredients and execution allow you to serve it any time your little old heart desires. If you’ve never had a buttermilk pound cake, you are in for a treat with this extra moist and flavorful recipe.
A brief history of pound cake
Pound cake started off long ago looking very different from what it is now. Traditionally pound cake was made with a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour giving its namesake and reputation for richness and ability to feed basically an entire village with one cake. Over time, bakers began to introduce chemical leveners such as baking soda and dairy such as buttermilk, sour cream, or cream cheese to produce a cake that is lighter than it’s original form but still rich and comforting. The buttermilk version is my very favorite because it produces a tangy bite to the cake which keeps things from getting too sweet, if there is such a thing. The buttermilk also makes for an incredibly moist cake without giving up any structural integrity.
Before we get into the recipe, there are some basic baking tips that I want to cover first to ensure you end up with the most amazing buttermilk pound cake you have ever had.
- Measure dry ingredients properly-Measuring dry ingredients the wrong way can cause a huge variation in the amount of ingredient you add to a recipe. While some recipes give weight measurements, it’s very common to see cup measurements which can leave a lot of room for error. A bakers tendency to scoop a measuring cup into a jar of flour can cause the addition of an excess amount of flour, leaving your baked goods dry and tough. Instead, use a spoon to lightly scoop the flour or other dry ingredient into the measuring cup until full and domed. Remove excess by using a straight edge such as the back of a knife or icing spatula to scrape across the top of the measuring cup. Here is a great resource with a video for properly measuring flour and other dry goods.
- Allow chilled ingredients to warm to room temperature-This is one of those steps that I always try to cheat as I invariably get the itch to bake and am ready to do so five minutes ago. Batters made using room temperature ingredients produce smooth, even, and light results thanks to the emulsive qualities of un-chilled dairy. Depending on how cool you keep your house, you’ll want to leave your chilled ingredients out 30 mins-1 hour to come up to temperature. If you find yourself in a last minute mood to bake or a very chilly house you can always utilize a microwave to warm butter (just a few seconds at a time until softened but not oozing or liquid) or immerse your eggs into a bowl of warm (not hot!) water for about 15 minutes.
- Grease and flour your cake pans-This is especially true for pound cakes that are often made in fancy bundt pans that have all kinds of decorative nooks and crannies. If you want your cake to easily slide out of the pan without leaving half the cake behind, be sure to grease your pans with a solid fat such as butter and flour the heck out of it, tapping out any excess before adding the batter. Do your best but remember that icing will cover most flaws. Here is a great article that gives you step-by-step instructions.
- 3 C all-purpose flour plus more for prepping cake pan
- ¼ t baking soda
- ½ t salt
- 1 C butter, softened, plus more for prepping cake pan
- 3 C granulated white sugar
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 T pure vanilla extract
- 1 C buttermilk, room temperature
- 1½ C powdered sugar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cream or half and half, room temperature
- 1 t pure vanilla extract
- Do not preheat oven
- Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt or tube pan. Set aside.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and light.
- Add the eggs one at a time, being sure to incorporate fully after each addition and scraping down the sides at least once.
- Add vanilla extract.
- Add the flour and buttermilk in three parts, alternating between the two.
- Pour batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Place cake into a cold oven and set temperature to 300 degrees.
- Bake for 70 minutes or until skewer inserted into cake comes out clean.
- Remove cake and allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pan on top of a wire cooling rack.
- After 30 minutes, gently invert the cake onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before cutting or icing.
- Mix together sugar and vanilla extract.
- Slowly add in cream in 1T portions, mixing well between additions, until icing has reached desired consistency. Use more cream for a thinner glaze, less cream for a thicker icing.
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