Ivy's Favorite Pound Cake


Test Kitchen Professional Ivy Odom shares the dessert that sparked a lifelong love of cooking.

Ivy's Favorite Pound Cake

Frederick Hardy II; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Mat Gibilisco

Active Time:
20 mins
Cool Time:
2 hrs
Total Time:
4 hrs 20 mins

When people find out that I cook for a living, many respond with, “What’s your favorite thing to make?” Each time I’m prompted with this question, my mind is flooded with the memory of a cake from my childhood.

I was over at my friend Hannah’s house to play, and her mama, Heather (Mrs. Heather to me), asked if I wanted to help gather eggs at a neighbor’s house. I jumped at the chance. We collected six—just enough for a pound cake, she said.

Mrs. Heather pulled out her big KitchenAid mixer and started creaming the butter, cream cheese, and sugar while I cracked the eggs. She let me add them in, one at a time, and I couldn’t hide my excitement as I watched the paddle swirl the yellow yolks into the pale batter. We put the pan into a cold oven, which I later learned made for a more tender crumb. The smell of the caramelized crust filled the house, making two hours feel like two years. I barely got a slice before it was time to leave, but one bite of the warm, buttery cake was enough to change my life forever.

I came home begging my parents for a KitchenAid mixer of my own. They finally gave in when I turned 13. I remember hoisting the shiny pink appliance onto the counter for the first time and running to the fridge to see if we had any cream cheese.

Since then, that mixer has moved with me seven times and made an array of sweets. But even after graduating first in my class from culinary school and working in the Southern Living Test Kitchen for six years, the recipe my family and friends request most is the one my mixer knows by heart—my twist on Mrs. Heather’s pound cake.


  • Baking spray

  • 3 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened

  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

  • 6 large eggs

  • 3 cups bleached cake flour (such as Swans Down)

  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

  • 2 tsp. bourbon

  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract


  1. Coat a light-colored 18-cup (10-inch) tube pan with baking spray. Set aside. Do not preheat oven.

  2. Beat sugar and softened butter with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in cream cheese until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed until just combined.

  3. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed until blended after each addition and stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed, about 1 minute total. Beat in salt, bourbon, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract until smooth. Transfer batter to prepared pan, and smooth top.

  4. Place on rack in lower third of a cold, unpreheated oven. Turn oven on to 300°F, and bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean, 1 hour, 50 minutes to 2 hours. Let cool in pan 30 minutes. Run an offset spatula around edges of cake to loosen; remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.

    Mini Loaf Variation

    Active 20 min. - Total 1 hour, 40 min., plus 1 hour, 5 min. cooling - Makes 3 (8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch) loaves

    Ivy's Favorite Pound Cake

    Frederick Hardy II; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Mat Gibilisco

    Prepare recipe as directed, dividing batter evenly among 3 (8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch) loaf pans coated with baking spray (about 3 cups per pan). Place pans in a cold, unpreheated oven; bake at 300°F until a wooden pick inserted into the center of each loaf comes out clean, 1 hour, 20 minutes to 1 hour, 30 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Run an offset spatula around edges of each loaf to loosen. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks, about 45 minutes.

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