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This old-fashioned vanilla pound cake recipe with caramel icing is a simple and easy dessert that comes together with just a handful of basic pantry staples. The end result is a buttery cake with a moist crumb and a beautiful golden brown exterior. From Thanksgiving or Christmas to your next cozy Sunday supper, this classic Southern treat is always well received!

Vanilla pound cake with caramel icing on a wooden cake stand with flowers in the background

Southern Vanilla Pound Cake Recipe

Few desserts are more classically Southern than a vanilla pound cake recipe! Every home cook should have a delicious and easy go-to cake that she can always turn to when hosting a party or serving a special Sunday dinner, and this moist cake always delivers. It has that crisp exterior and soft, buttery crumb that we all know and love, maintaining the dense pound cake texture without feeling dry or crumbly. Add a rich caramel glaze on top and this treat is totally over the top. Simple dessert perfection!

What is the difference between pound cake and vanilla cake?

Unlike a traditional vanilla cake, pound cakes have a dense, rich texture and a crisp crust. Made with simple ingredients like butter, flour, sugar and eggs, pound cakes are large, heavy cakes that don’t rise as much as other cakes.

Pound cakes are traditionally prepared in Bundt pans or tube pans, but can also be baked in loaf pans. They’re actually a type of quick bread, since the term “quick bread” refers to any dough or batter that’s leavened without yeast. In this case, the eggs help the batter rise a little bit, along with the aerated creamed butter and sugar. While a simple dusting of powdered sugar is a classic finish, some versions also include a glaze on top (like this decadent caramel icing!).

Overhead image of a sliced butter pound cake with caramel frosting on a ceramic serving platter with flowers in the background

What is the difference between a loaf cake and a pound cake?

A loaf cake refers to any cake that’s baked in a loaf pan. Pound cake falls under the category of “loaf cake” when you bake pound cake batter in a loaf pan. Pound cake isn’t always baked in loaf pans, however. Traditional pound cakes can be round from tube pans or Bundt pans.

Why do they call it pound cake?

Pound cake got its name because the dessert was originally made with a pound of each of its four main ingredients: flour, butter, eggs and sugar.

What makes the best pound cake?

The best vanilla pound cake recipe should be light, with a finely textured, moist and even crumb. It should have a firm, crispy crust that serves as a beautiful contrast to the soft, buttery inside. Finally, the cake should boast a rich vanilla flavor, which is why this recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract — far more than the typical 1-2 teaspoons in other pound cake recipes. Don’t be shy, because the extra vanilla truly sets this dessert apart from the rest!

Process shot showing how to make a vanilla pound cake in a stand mixer

Ingredients for a Classic Vanilla Pound Cake Recipe

This is a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for a moist vanilla pound cake recipe. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable box at the bottom of the post.

  • All-purpose flour: sifted three times for the best texture.
  • Salted butter: adds rich flavor and keeps the cake moist. Allow plenty of time for the butter to soften at room temperature.
  • Granulated sugar: for a cake that’s sweet, but not too sweet.
  • Eggs: give the cake structure and lift.
  • Heavy cream: the fat in the cream yields a moist, tender crumb. Do not substitute with lower-fat alternatives such as half-and-half or milk.
  • Vanilla extract: two full tablespoons gives this vanilla pound cake recipe it’s delicious flavor!
  • Light brown sugar: combines with the butter to create a caramel icing.
  • Salt: just a pinch in the icing balances the sweetness.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: thickens the icing.
Pouring cake batter into a tube pan

How to Make a Homemade Vanilla Pound Cake Recipe from Scratch

This rich, decadent pound cake comes together quickly and is best when made a day in advance. Perfect for easy, breezy entertaining!

  1. Mix the batter.
  2. Transfer the batter to a greased and floured tube or Bundt pan.
  3. Bake in a 325°F oven for 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely.
  5. Whisk together the caramel icing.
  6. Drizzle icing over the cake.
  7. Slice and serve!
Pouring caramel icing over a homemade pound cake

Serving Suggestions

With the sweet and buttery caramel glaze, this cake doesn’t need much else! For an extra garnish, serve each slice with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream or butter pecan ice cream.

Hands holding a plate of a moist pound cake recipe on a wooden cake stand

How to Store Pound Cake

  • The pound cake will stay fresh when covered at room temperature for 4-5 days — it does not need to be refrigerated. To extend the life of your cake, wrap it tightly and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • How to Store Pound Cake: For the refrigerator or countertop, you can just wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap. For the freezer, I recommend a layer of plastic wrap, followed by another layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
  • The cake is best when prepared 1 day in advance. The flavors come together and it gets more moist as it rests!
Hands lifting a slice of the best vanilla pound cake recipe on a cake server

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of the caramel icing, finish the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar or a vanilla glaze.
  • Vanilla Pound Cake Loaf: if you don’t have a Bundt pan or a tube pan, you can use 2 (8 ½ x 4 ½-inch) loaf pans. Alternatively, cut the ingredients in half to make just 1 loaf cake.
  • If using unsalted butter, add ¼ teaspoon – ½ teaspoon of salt to the batter. You’ll also want to add a bit of extra salt to the icing to balance the sweetness.
Side shot of a sliced Southern pound cake on a cake stand on a wooden table

Tips for the Best Vanilla Pound Cake Recipe

  • Properly measure the flour. Weigh the flour on a kitchen scale or spoon the flour into the cup and lightly level with the straight edge of a knife. Packing the measuring cup too tightly and using too much flour will result in a dry cake.
  • Sift the flour three times for the best texture. I know this sounds like a lot, but it only takes a few minutes and it’s well worth the effort. Sifting multiple times gives the flour a light, airy quality, prevents any dry lumps in the batter, and makes it easier to mix the flour into the other ingredients.
  • Make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature so that they blend together smoothly.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes. Whipping this air into the batter will help the cake rise during baking.
  • Don’t leave the cake in the pan for too long after baking — about 10-15 minutes is plenty. After that, condensation will start to form and the moisture will negatively impact the crust.
  • Make the cake about 1 day ahead of when you plan to serve it. The cake just gets better as it sits!
Close up side shot of caramel pound cake sliced on a platter

More Old Fashioned Pound Cake Recipes to Try

Vanilla pound cake with caramel icing on a wooden cake stand with flowers in the background

Vanilla Pound Cake Recipe with Caramel Icing

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cooling Time 3 hours
Total: 4 hours 50 minutes
Servings 16 slices
Calories 510 kcal
Rich, decadent and moist, this old-fashioned Southern vanilla pound cake recipe with caramel icing is a simple and easy dessert that comes together with just a handful of basic pantry staples.

Ingredients
  

FOR THE POUND CAKE:

  • 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

FOR THE CARAMEL ICING:

  • ¼ cup (½ of a stick) salted butter
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • cup heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

Instructions

BAKE THE CAKE:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and lightly flour a tube pan or Bundt pan; set aside.
  • Sift the flour three times.
  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5-6 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl periodically.
  • With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour and the cream, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until combined. Stir in the vanilla.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Tap it a couple of times on the counter to release any big air bubbles.
  • Bake the cake in the center of the oven for about 75 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sides begin to pull away from the pan.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert on a serving plate to cool completely.

MAKE THE ICING:

  • Once the cake is cool, prepare the icing. Place the butter, brown sugar, cream and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; let cool for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently as it cools slightly. Gradually whisk in the confectioners' sugar until smooth and thick; drizzle over cake.

Notes

  • Properly measure the flour. Weigh the flour on a kitchen scale or spoon the flour into the cup and lightly level with the straight edge of a knife. Packing the measuring cup too tightly and using too much flour will result in a dry cake.
  • Sift the flour three times for the best texture. I know this sounds like a lot, but it only takes a few minutes and it’s well worth the effort. Sifting multiple times gives the flour a light, airy quality, prevents any dry lumps in the batter, and makes it easier to mix the flour into the other ingredients.
  • Make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature so that they blend together smoothly.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes. Whipping this air into the batter will help the cake rise during baking.
  • Don’t leave the cake in the pan for too long after baking — about 10-15 minutes is plenty. After that, condensation will start to form and the moisture will negatively impact the crust.
  • Make the cake about 1 day ahead of when you plan to serve it. The cake just gets better as it sits!

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 510kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 5gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 161mgPotassium: 79mgFiber: 1gSugar: 52gVitamin A: 824IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: homemade, moist, old fashioned, simple, vanilla pound cake recipe
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I can’t wait to try all of these recipes and you’ve explained them really well. I love the extra tips included.

  2. 5 stars
    This is the best cake I’ve ever made or baked, I used mini Bundt cake pans, can get four cakes out of the batter with a little bit of leftover! I have been making him to give to friends for Christmas and everybody so far has loved them! This is the best recipe ever!