Micah A. Leal

We tested 4 different recipes, and our conclusion isn’t what you’d think

Many Southerners are certain they know the “right” way to make a pound cake, so we decided to test and compare four very different pound cake recipes from scratch for this iconic Southern confection. Our first conclusion: pound cake is always delicious, no matter its special ingredients. Our second conclusion: each is best eaten a little differently. This is our assessment of the four different pound cakes from scratch and a recommendation for making each one memorable.

How to Make Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

Only made with the six ingredients found in every pound cake (butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, flour, and salt) and nothing else, the benefit of this recipe is that it’s very simple and you probably already have everything you need to make it at home. The texture is more dense and dry than the others and more prone to crumble—and that’s a fantastic thing if served the right way. We recommend cutting a slice of this cake, toasting it in a pan with some butter, and topping it with ice cream. Recipe here.

How to Make Pound Cake with Shortening and Milk

Butter and sugar are the building blocks for every pound cake, but this one uses equal parts of butter and shortening, and the cake is further softened by the addition of milk to the batter. A slice feels like a soft dry bread to the touch, tender but still holding its shape when pressed. There’s also a delightful crispness to the outside that can be attributed to the shortening. We recommend eating a piece with a warm fruit compote (to add some moisture) and some freshly whipped cream. Recipe here.

How to Make Sour Cream Pound Cake

A bite of this cake feels like velvet. It’s by far the most moist and sticky of all the recipes, and it’s only uniqueness is the addition of sour cream and baking soda to the batter. This does two things: it provides a little rise for the cake and it contributes a significant amount of moisture that makes the inside irresistibly springy (think the texture of a really good banana muffin). We recommend eating this one with some fresh fruit and whipped cream. Recipe here.

WATCH: Cream Cheese Pound Cake

How to Make Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This is the most “different” cake. As the name indicates, cream cheese is added to the butter at the beginning of the recipe. A slice gives off the typical heavenly aroma of pound cake with a slight tang that balances well with the sweetness of the cake. Both dense and moist, we recommend eating this cake by itself. If you must, top it with some whipped cream, but overall, the flavor is interesting enough to stand up on its own. Recipe here.

If you have your tried-and-true recipe, give another one a shot—you may be surprised to find that it’s not a matter of “right” or “wrong,” but merely a (delicious) matter of difference!