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What is a Pound Cake, and Why is it Called This?


Janies Italian Pound Cake
Janie’s Cake | Italian Jane Pound Cake

If you have ever strolled into a bakery or cafe, no doubt you have seen stacks of thickly sliced pound cake shaped like a loaf of bread. But have you ever wondered how this cake got its name and where it comes from?

Pound for pound, these bread loaf-shaped slabs of cake are a light, not-too-sweet treat perfect for dessert, teatime, and anytime. One bite and you’ll know these cakes are worth their weight — and calories!

Read More: What is a Bundt Cake: Everything to Know

Why Do They Call It Pound Cake?

It’s called pound cake because of the amount of each ingredient. There are four ingredients in this cake: 

  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Sugar

The original recipe called for 1 lb. of each ingredient. Modern recipes often decrease the amount of each ingredient to yield a smaller amount of cake.

Mortgage Apple Cakes
Mortgage Apple Cakes | Apple Pound Cake
Pearson Farm Virginia's Georgia Peach Pound Cake
Pearson Farm | Virginia’s Georgia Peach Pound Cake

Where Did Pound Cake Originate? 

Pound cake came from Northern Europe. The first recipe for this loaf-shaped cake was published in The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse in 1747. Today, there are several versions of this popular cake:

  • Quatre-quarts is the French version of pound cake. It calls for 1 quart of each of the four ingredients. 
  • Panqué is the Mexican version of pound cake. 
  • Panqué has the same ingredients but often includes cream cheese and the cake is baked with a paper liner.

What’s the Difference Between Pound Cake and Regular Cake?

There are many differences between pound cake and regular cake. The differences include:

  • Ingredients: Pound cake has more fat than regular cake, and has four ingredients: butter, eggs, flour, and sugar. Regular cake has the same four ingredients plus more ingredients. Regular cake also has baking powder, baking soda, and buttermilk or milk. 
  • Baking time: It takes longer to bake a pound cake than a regular cake, because they are dense and made in deeper pans so they bake unevenly. They also have few or no leaveners so these cakes don’t rise, making them take longer to bake.
  • Taste: Pound cake is rich, buttery, and has a custard-like flavor due to the high volume of eggs. Regular cake has a lighter taste.
  • Texture: Pound cake is dense and heavy. Regular cake is light and fluffy.

Is Pound Cake Dry?

No, pound cake is not dry. They are moist, rich, and delicious. If your cake is dry, it may be due to the following reasons:

  • The recipe was not followed exactly
  • Ingredients were incorrectly measured
  • The incorrect sugar was used – this cake should be made with granulated sugar
  • The butter is not quality butter – unsalted European butter is ideal because cheaper brands may contain more liquid like water or fat
  • The cake has been over baked and/or not placed in the center of the oven
  • The cake has been baked on too high of a temperature or the temperature has fluctuated during baking
  • The baking pan is incorrect and/or has not been adequately greased

Most Famous Pound Cakes

The most famous pound cakes can be found in bakeries and restaurants across the United States. You don’t need to bake all day or leave your home to enjoy the most famous ones.

Janies Cakes Pound Cake

Janie’s Cakes

If it’s good enough for Oprah Winfrey, it’s good enough for us. Janie’s Cakes is one of Oprah’s Favorite Things and ours too. Janie’s Cakes’ pound cakes are made with creamery butter, farm-fresh eggs, and pure cane sugar. Then, they are perfectly packaged in yellow and white striped boxes with blue ribbon. Bake your day with Janie’s Cakes like:

  • Carrot
  • Chipper
  • Italian
  • Saucy
  • Tart
Grandpa's Original Morrisons Pastry

Grandpa’s Original Morrisons Pastry

For four generations, Morrisons Pastry has been baking its famous pound cakes in Long Island, New York. Their Grandpa’s Original Loaves are moist and bursting with flavor. 

The pastry shop’s yogurt cake flavors include classic Chocolate, Iced Lemon and Iced Marble plus Banana Chocolate Crunch, Blueberry Banana, and Whole Grain Coffee Cake.

Sugaree's Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Sugaree’s Cream Cheese Pound Cake

New Albany, Mississippi’s, Sugaree’s has been baking its famous treats since 1997. Mary Jennifer Russell started baking at home and expanded her business four years later. One of their most popular small-batch baked goods is Sugaree’s ringed Cream Cheese Pound Cake. This delicious Deep South scratch-made cake quickly won over Oprah, who listed it as one of her favorite summer gifts. It’s one of our favorites too.

Be penny-wise and not pound foolish. Perfect pound cake from the best bakers is shipping nationwide on Goldbelly!