6 Ways to Dress Up Pound Cake: The Most Versatile Dessert

Pound cake is a hard cake not to love. Moist, tender, and rich, every bite is dense and decadent. Redolent of butter, sugar, and vanilla, it tastes like a simple, classic yellow layer cake, but somehow more so, as if you condensed the cake’s flavor and multiplied it tenfold.

Pound cake via @kingarthurflour

Happily, pound cake is exceptionally easy to bake and nearly foolproof. Since a successful pound cake needs to be neither airy nor delicate, it’s hard to mess up the batter. Named for the traditional proportions of ingredients – a pound of butter + a pound of flour + a pound of sugar + a pound of eggs – modern pound cakes riff a bit on the historical formula.

Pound cake via @kingarthurflour

One of our readers’ best-loved versions is our Golden Vanilla Pound Cake recipe, which relies on a bit of cream cheese to give the batter a tangy richness. A crunchy sugared crust sets this cake apart, too: You’ll bake it for nearly an hour before removing it from the oven, brushing on a mixture of water, sugar, and vanilla extract, then baking it for 20 more minutes.

Before you bake, keep these tips in mind.

Pound cake tips

  • Be sure to use a large enough pan! Unless the recipe calls for this specific size, a standard loaf pan (8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″) is too small. You need a medium loaf pan (9″ x 5″ x 2 3/4″) or a tea loaf pan (12″ x 4″ x 2 1/2″). You can also use a tube pan or a bundt pan.
  • Beat thoroughly between the addition of each egg. The batter might look a little curdled, but persevere. You want each egg to be well-incorporated before adding more liquid, so beat for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute after each egg.
  • Place the cake pan on a baking sheet for baking. It’s slightly messy to brush (or pour) the vanilla syrup over the warm cake at the end of the recipe, so it’s smart to place the cake pan on a sheet to catch any drips.

This cake is very good plain. Dangerously good, I might say. For instance, if you were to offer me a slice that you had stashed in your freezer, I would certainly not say no. And I’d eat it standing up in the kitchen with my fingers, with complete disregard for the crumbs I’d drop on your floor. But that’s neither here nor there.

Pound cake via @kingarthurflour

So you can enjoy it as is, but I think the real beauty of a pound cake lies in its versatility. You can dress up a pound cake in so many ways. It’s easy to make ahead and keeps well, making it an ideal dinner party dessert option. Bake the cake a few days ahead and wrap it in plastic wrap. When you’re ready to serve, place individual slices on plates and try one (or more!) of our excellent ideas for toppings.

Basic Pound Cake Toppings

Pound cake via @kingarthurflour1. Fresh strawberries + whipped cream + torn mint leaves

Pound cake via @kingarthurflour2. Lemon curd + chopped toasted pistachios

Pound cake via @kingarthurflour3. Chopped peaches + whipped cream + Demerara sugar

Pound cake via @kingarthurflour4. Fresh blueberries + simple syrup

Pound cake via @kingarthurflour5. A scoop of vanilla ice cream + chocolate sauce

Pound cake via @kingarthurflour6. Sliced bananas + toasted coconut + honey

And don’t stop there! Use your favorite flavors as a starting point. Think about balancing sweetness with texture. Use nuts for crunch, and yogurt or whipped cream for creaminess. Add fruit or herbs for a bright, fresh contrast to the dense cake.

Creative pound cake toppings

Use your pound cake as a blank canvas!

  • Try a drizzle of tahini with cardamom and a handful of granola.
  • Make a quick streusel with oats, butter, flour, and brown sugar and top your cake with it and fresh raspberries.
  • Fold toasted pecans into a mixture of mascarpone cheese, lemon zest, and sweetened Greek yogurt, and spoon it over your cake.
  • Grill a slice of cake lightly, then grill some stone fruit, and top the cake with the grilled fruit and ice cream.
  • Make a perfect summer ice cream sandwich. Toast two thin slices of cake and sandwich a scoop of blackberry frozen yogurt in the middle.

Pound cake via @kingarthurflour

There’s no end of delicious ways to enjoy pound cake, and we’re always looking for more inspiration. We’d love to hear your ideas for dressing up pound cake! Let us know in the comments how you like to enjoy a slice.

Please bake, enjoy, and review our recipe for Golden Vanilla Pound Cake.

Print just the recipe.

comments

  1. Heather Norris

    Ok, this may seem weird, but my family LOVES pound cake with Nutella and crispy bacon! I take a toasted slice of pound cake, spread a thin layer of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread, then garnish with chopped crispy bacon… it’s AMAZING!! Definitely a southern favorite!

    Reply
  2. Penny Raynor

    This is absolutely the BEST pound cake ever. Now that incredible Hood Strawberries are available in Oregon for their very short season I am baking this cake often. There really is no pound cake that comes close to this one. We love it

    Reply
  3. drgns4vr

    This sounds weird but I like slices of pound cake drizzled with flavored balsamic vinegar. I especially like the violet vinegar or the peach vinegar, but other flavors work well, too. Don’t soak the cake in it–just a quick drizzle like you did with the ice cream and chocolate sauce. I think it’s that little tangy contrast with the sweet cake that does it for me.

    Reply
  4. Mary

    Personally, I’ve been rocking the lemon-glazed poundcake recipe. Except that I haven’t actually made it with lemon yet. I’ve made both orange and lime and they’ve both had rave reviews. Just served it with some mixed fruits and whipped cream. I might have to try some of those more exotic variants!

    Reply
  5. Karen Lane

    I take two thin slices of pound cake, toast them on the grill. I spread Nutella on one slice, top it with fresh strawberries, top it with the other slice and top the whole thing with whipped cream and more berries. I always have two loaves of pound cake in my freezer so that I can make this dessert whenever I need it.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sounds delicious, Karen! Thanks for sharing this great dessert idea! Barb@KAF

  6. Ashley

    My children always have toasted pound cake with homemade applesauce for their breakfast on first day of school. The day before school let out for summer, my eight year old actually said that she can’t wait for the first day of school just so she could have pound cake!

    Reply
  7. Kevin McCarthy

    Forget the toppings, I coat the blueberries in flour and sugar and add them in to the pound cake batter. Epic yum.

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood, post author

      Ooh man, can’t argue with that strategy! Bring on the summer blueberry picking. -Posie

    2. Dennis

      Totally agree. Alton Brown has a great blueberry poundcake recipe that calls for that very thing.

  8. sandy

    Very nice post. I so agree that pound cake with toppings is easy to prepare ahead and the variations are endless. I think pound cakes always taste a little better if made ahead. On Memorial Day we had sour cream pound cake topped with blueberry compote (slightly warmed) and whipped cream. The variations above all sound so good. The other thing I like to do is to layer pound cake and “toppings” in a pretty bowl or glass to create the ultimate pound cake dessert — the trifle. Thanks Posie.

    Reply

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