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This is hands down the best pound cake recipe in all the land. Read on to find out where I got the original recipe and how I have modified this classic Southern dessert to end up with the best possible texture.
I call this first version Van Halen Pound Cake, after the song. Although I doubt the song is about baked goods! Once you learn the original, you can modify it in so many ways. I’ve made Strawberry Moscato pound cake, dark chocolate pound cake, whipping cream pound cake, and more, all based on this one base recipe.
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Patsy’s Famous Pound Cake Recipe, Re-imagined by Me
I told you guys I would be reporting on the making/baking/de-panning/eating of Miss Patsy’s famous pound cake recipe, sent to me by friend and reader Cindy.
I have been sworn to secrecy about the exact recipe, so I can’t print that, but I can print my modifications.
And where does Van Halen come in? I was invited to Mary Lou’s house for New Years Day. She told me to bring something sweet. I told her, via facebook, that I would bring this pound cake.
She posted, “Is that like Van Halen pound cake?” I was confused, and I had to ask her what that meant. She told me that Van Halen has a song called Pound Cake. I don’t think it’s about a baked good, but that’s neither here nor there.
So, for my purposes, my few tweaks to Miss Patsy’s famous pound cake will be known from this point onward as Van Halen pound cake.
Pound Cakes Are Made with The Creaming Method
I’m sure you’d recognize the method, even if you don’t call it by name.
It’s the one that starts out, “Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.”
Here’s a video I made to show you how to do the creaming method. I hope you find it useful.
The Original Pound Cake Recipe
First, a bit about pound cake.
The original recipe is a perfect balance of structural elements and tenderizing elements.
- 1 pound each of flour and eggs for Team Structure
- 1 pound each of sugar and butter for Team Tender.
A perfectly balanced but fairly dense and fairly flavorless cake.
It toasts nicely, I’ll give it that. Think of the original pound cake as a barely sweet tea cake or a kind of quick bread.
The recipe has been tweaked over the years and now modern pound cake recipes generally include extra sugar, some flavorings, a little extra liquid and some leavening.
Here’s the ingredient roll call for Van Halen Pound Cake:
- cake flour
- baking powder
- lemon extract
- almond extract
- lemon zest
- whole milk
- half and half
The amounts of the 4 main elements are:
- 13 oz cake flour (1 pound minus 3 ounces)
- 5 eggs (about 10 oz, or 1 pound minus 6 ounces)
- 20 oz sugar (1 pound plus 4 ounces)
- 12 oz butter (1 pound minus 4 ounces)
The resulting cake, even without the flavorings and leaveners, is lighter (less flour, less egg), a touch less rich (less egg and less butter), and sweeter (more sugar) than the original.
The Creaming Method, Step by Step
And now, written for you in first person, here are all the steps I took to make this cake:
- I measured all of my ingredients and let them sit until everything was no cooler than about 68F.
- I whisked the flour and baking powder together really well.
- I creamed the butter and shortening together for about a minute.
- I added the flavorings and the salt to the butter and shortening and creamed for another minute. (Fat carries flavor really well, so adding them at this point makes sense).
- In went the sugar, and I creamed everything on medium until the shortening was lighter in color and fluffy–about 3-4 more minutes. Much bowl scraping occurred too, to ensure even creaming.
- In went 1 egg at a time. I beat on medium for about 30 seconds with each addition, scraping the bowl every time. (NOTE: I have since modified this method to beating the 5 eggs together and drizzling them in slowly. I think it makes a more stable batter.)
- I dumped in about half the flour/baking powder and beat until combined.
- In went half the dairy. I beat until just combined.
- Then, I put in 1/2 of the remaining flour/baking powder and mixed on low until combined.
- I drizzled in the last half of the milk, then added the rest of the flour and the zest. (If you add the zest earlier, it will just get all snarled around your paddle attachment like seaweed around a boat motor, and none of it will end up in the cake).
- I turned the speed up for literally just 2-3 seconds to make sure everything was well combined.
- I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, F, and baked the cake in the lower third of the oven for a total of about 1 hour and 10 minutes. I knew he was done when he was just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and when I toothpick I stuck in the center came out clean.
- I let him cool in the pan for about an hour, then I turned him out onto a rack to finish cooling. Fortunately my Cake Release did me proud and the cake sprang forth from the pan like the Little Gingerbread Man from the oven.
How to Prepare a Bundt Pan for Baking
How to prepare the pan: I used a Bundt pan, and I knew that Cindy has had issues with the cake sticking. I really like a Wilton product for this.
It’s their Cake Release. It’s not the spray kind; it comes in a bottle with a flip-top lid, like the old Bactine bottles, if you remember.
- Squirt some Cake Release into the bottom of your pan
- Use a pastry brush to brush it evenly all over the interior of the pan.
I am truly convinced that the Cake Release is the Best Product Ever for making a cake come bounding out of a pan, and using a pastry brush really helps to get it in all the nooks and crannies in a Bundt pan.
If you don’t have any of this magical product, other options include:
- pan sprays with oil and flour in them
- fat and then flour
- fat and then sugar
- homemade cake lube
Glazing the Pound Cake
I rarely measure when I make a glaze, and you don’t have to either!
I used some powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, the wee-est splash of my favorite Sonoma Syrup Co Special Blend Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush” Madagascar Bourbon and Tahitian Vanilla with Vanilla Bean Seeds (that’s what the label says. I just call it vanilla) and a little half and half.
I tend to make a thicker glaze so it shows up thick and white on the cake. Other people like thinner glaze. There is no one right way.
Start by adding a small amount of liquid at a time, and whisk well in between. Stop when it gets to the consistency you like.
Then, once the cake cools, drizzle, drizzle, drizzle.
In case you were wondering, it’s called “Crush” because it has crushed up vanilla beans in it so there are wee vanilla specks. It is, hands down, the best vanilla I’ve ever had.
This is a great recipe, folks. It’s buttery, and the mixture of the extracts lends a subtle and can’t-put-your-finger-on-it quality to the cake. I heard a lot of, “What exactly am I tasting?” The folks at the party loved it, and I give full credit to Miss Patsy for the original recipe and to Cindy for sharing it with me. Thanks, Cindy!
Most of my recipes are written by weight, although I do try to provide volume measures as well. Please do consider getting a scale, for both accuracy and consistency.
This is the one I have, and I love it.
And now it’s time to make the very best pound cake you will ever have. Not that I’m biased.
- 13 oz. cake flour (about 3 cups, sifted, spooned, and leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
- 20 oz granulated sugar (about 3 cups)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- zest of 1 1/2 lemons
- 1 1/4 cup half and half
- Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan, or use pan spray and flour. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350F.
- Whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt until the butter is creamy and lightens in color a bit, scraping the bowl as necessary.
- Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy and very pale in color, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
- Add the extracts and lemon zest and beat for an additional minute.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the dairy in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Scrape the bowl as necessary, and beat on high for 2-3 seconds, just to make sure it is nice and homogenized.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the lower third of the oven until well risen and deep golden brown. A toothpick should come out clean. This will take about an hour.
- Allow the cake to cool on a rack for 30 minutes and then turn out to cool completely, about 4 hours.
- Serve as is or with your favorite glaze or drizzle.
- Store leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 5 days. Wrap well and freeze for longer storage.
- Escali Primo Digital Kitchen Scale
- KitchenAid 6 Quart Mixer
- 12 cup Bundt Pan
- Set of 2 Cooling Racks
- OXO 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set
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Nutrition InformationYield 24 Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 231 Total Fat 8g Saturated Fat 5g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 3g Cholesterol 58mg Sodium 199mg Carbohydrates 37g Fiber 0g Sugar 24g Protein 3g
And there you have it, the original “Van Halen” pound cake recipe, the pound cake recipe from which all my other pound cakes come.
Thanks for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.