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Why is Pound Cake Called Pound Cake?

Pound cake got its name because the cake was originally made with a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour.


Have you ever stopped to wonder why a pound cake is called a pound cake?  Hint: it's not because the cake weighs a pound. In fact, a traditional pound cake would actually weigh more than four pounds!

And it's not called "pound cake" because it will make you put on extra pounds. Although that is likely true. 

Why is Pound Cake Called Pound Cake?

I love the simplicity of a classic pound cake. And I’ll let you in on a secret - it’s one of the few things I can actually bake without a recipe! 

And here's why - and also the answer to why a pound cake is called a pound cake.

The History of Pound Cake

The traditional recipe for pound cake (which originated in Great Britain in the 1700's by the way) calls for one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour - and not much else. 

Maybe a pinch of salt and some vanilla if you want and that’s it. Easy to remember right?

A recipe for Pound Cake also appeared in American Cookery in 1796, which was the very first cookbook published in the United States.

Baking Pound Cake

This rich, dense, almost chewy cake needs nothing but a dusting of confectioners’ sugar once it reaches the table to be a perfectly elegant, decadent, richly satisfying dessert.

Or sometimes I'll garnish my pound cake with a dollop of whipped cream or homemade lemon curd if I have some. 

It’s also a great way to use up a LOT of eggs!  

The egg and whatever air gets whipped into the batter is all that makes a pound cake rise. The recipe doesn't call for any leaveners like baking soda or yeast.

Because the recipe uses so few ingredients, It's important that they all be top-quality, so that means the freshest of eggs, the best butter...

Pound cakes are usually made in a loaf pan or a Bundt pan. I prefer using a Bundt pan because it makes for a more fancy presentation. 

Sometimes I'll also cut the recipe in half and make the cake in a loaf pan (the full recipe would fill two loaf pans, which is great for gift giving!) 

(scroll down for the printable recipe card)

Bundt Pound Cake

Butter and confectioners’ sugar for prepping the pan 

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

8 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Liberally grease a 12-cup Bundt cake pan, then lightly dust with confectioner's sugar. Whisk the flour and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light lemon yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla and scrape the sides of the bowl one last time.

Reduce the mixer to low speed and slowly add the flour mixture a little at a time, mixing just until evenly combined. Spoon the batter (it will be thick) into the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the top. 

Bake in the middle of the oven or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.  

Check after 30 minutes and tent foil over the top of the cake if it’s browning too quickly.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then run a butter knife along the edge of the pan to release the cake. 

Invert the cake to cool completely on the wire rack, then move to a decorative cake stand, slice and serve, dusting the slices with confectioners’ sugar.



This recipe can also be found in The Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook, along with my recipes for Cardamom Half-Pound Loaf Cake and Cranberry White Chocolate Half-Pound Loaf Cake.

Here's a fun look at the photo shoot for my cookbook! 





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