Perfect Pound Cake with Vanilla, Butter & Nut Extract

I’ve made a lot of pound cakes, and while this one isn’t the densest and heaviest, it’s one of my favorites. It’s tight crumbed, slices neatly, and is light textured even even though it has a high ratio of butter to flour and sugar. Some people describe this pound cake as similar to the one by Sara Lee, and while I don’t quite agree with that, this is a perfect pound cake because it’s a reliable, not-too-sweet and keeps well at room temperature or in the freezer.

perfect pound cake

My only issue with this cake is that it’s best made in an 8×4 inch loaf pan and I don’t own that size. It’s a little short in stature if I make it in an 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch pan, and if I make it in a 9×5 it is downright stubby. Since I’d rather have a nicely shaped small cake than a stubby cake, I made today’s cake in three small loaf pans – two of them were 3×5 and one was 3×6, which left me a little extra room to throw in some frozen cake balls.

Perfect Pound Cake

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but Fuzz and I bought a Baby Cakes Cake Ball maker and have had tons of fun with it.  It’s changed my perspective on cake balls completely.

Cake Balls in Pound Cake

But back to the pound cake. This is an adapted version of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Perfect Pound Cake from The Cake Bible. If you want her exact version and don’t have the book, just do a quick Google search and it will come up. My main changes today were to bake it in three pans at a slightly lower heat and use my new extract. Variations I’ve tried in the past include swapping out half the butter for shortening (makes the cake a little softer textured with a nicer dome), swapping out half the granulated sugar for an equal weight of confectioners’ sugar (makes the cake chewier and more like Starbucks’ pound cake) and making a lemon version using both of the changes I just mentioned plus adding a packed tablespoon of lemon zest and soaking in a lemon glaze and adding a bit of yellow food coloring.  But I’m not messing around with lemon pound cake until I get some good lemon oil.

Sorry I keep digressing today.  Here’s the recipe with one last note — there’s no creaming in this recipe.  I believe this one’s an example of the “two-stage” method where you combine all the dry ingredients, coat them with fat and a bit of the egg, then add the remaining egg and liquid slowly and at the end.

Perfect Pound Cake with Vanilla, Butter & Nut Extract
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is a great cake, but only if you follow the directions precisely. Weigh your ingredients, mix as instructed and use the right size pan.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of McCormick Vanilla, Butter & Nut Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of regular vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (5.25 oz) – don’t substitute and definitely weigh it
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (5.25 oz)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 13 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 4-6 teaspoons of cream or milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of really good vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 by 4 inch loaf pan and line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper. If you don’t have an 8x4 inch loaf pan you can substitute three 3 x 5 inch loaf pans. With the small loaf pans, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl or large measuring cup, combine the milk, eggs and extract.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir well. Add the butter and half the egg mixture and stir to moisten. Mix on low speed with a handheld mixer, then increase speed to medium and beat for one minute, scraping sides of the bowl.
  4. Gradually add the remaining egg mixture in 2 or 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan (or pans) and smooth the surface with a spatula. The batter should be about ½ inch from the top.
  6. Bake 55 to 65 minutes for an 8x4 inch cake, or 45 to 50 minutes at 325 for 3x5 inch cakes. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, lay a sheet of foil loosely over the top. I’ve never had to do this.
  7. Let the cake (or cakes) cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and invert it onto a greased wire rack. Reinvert so that the top part is upright. Let cool completely, then pour icing over the top.
  8. To make the icing, combined melted butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl and stir well. Add the cream about a teaspoon at a time or until batter is thin enough to pour. Stir in some vanilla. Make sure the cake is completely cool before adding icing.


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  1. says

    I love the look of the one with the cake balls in it. Too cute!
    If you want to mess around with lemon cake I have a recipe I love that is made with self rising cake flour. I’m sure you have a long list of other recipes you’d like try but if you want it let me know.

  2. says

    Sue, what brand is your self-rising cake flour? I don’t think we have self-rising cake flour around here, but I’m guessing it about the same as self-rising White Lily which is easy to order.

  3. d says

    I’d like to hear more about your adventures with the cake ball maker:) The poundcake looks yummy. I hope my local stores carry that extract.

  4. stephanie says

    I love it when you digress! I pinned several things from this recipe – tips on poundcake galore. I have to get the Vanilla, Butter & Nut Extract!!!

  5. carl says

    What is the brand name of the scale that you use to measure your ingredients with? I am trying to figure out which brand to buy and I just thought I would ask. Thank you.

  6. says

    Carl, I’ve used a few different brands. The one I’ve been using for the past few years is the EatSmart Precision Pro scale. I like it because it takes normal batteries, has a huge display, and switches easily from grams to ounces to kg. It’s very lightweight — almost dinky and toylike, but mine has really held up and I use it multiple times day. For the money, it’s a good value.

  7. Lisa A11 says

    I have been making pound cake with McCormicks Vanilla Butter Nut Extract for almost 20 yrs. It makes THE BEST tasting pound cake ever!

  8. says

    Lisa, thanks for the comment! I really love it and wish I could buy it at the store. I ran out and now have to hunt it down on Amazon.

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