Old fashioned buttermilk pound cake is a classic for a reason — moist, delicious, simple to make and so buttery! It’s an excellent addition to your recipe collection and a great way to use that extra buttermilk.
(Love pound cakes? Try this Meyer lemon ricotta pound cake. Just as good and delightfully lemony!)
As much as I like frosting, I am partial to simple cakes that don’t need them, like:
They are delicious on their own and don’t need anything else.
This particular buttermilk pound cake is a favourite. It’s an awesome everyday cake with coffee or tea but also lovely to serve to company.
Moist, delicious and oh so buttery. Simple to do too; no special techniques required.
It’s also a great recipe to use extra buttermilk if you have it (I know I always do).
What is buttermilk?
For those of you who are not familiar with what buttermilk is — no, it doesn’t actually have butter in it. The short answer is: buttermilk is cultured milk, similar to natural yogurt. You can read all about buttermilk and how it’s made here.
It’s a favourite ingredient for many bakers not only because of its unique tangy flavour but also because it helps tenderize gluten, which results to softer and lighter baked goods.
What remains a mystery to me is why I can only buy buttermilk in 1L cartons. I usually only need a cup so I always end up with lots extra.
So over time I developed a buttermilk workflow.
Extra buttermilk = classic buttermilk scones + banana buttermilk pancakes that I would just freeze and then microwave in the mornings for breakfast (or whenever, no judgements in our house).
Or buttermilk pound cake, if we’re feeling extra special.
Ingredients you’ll need to make old fashioned buttermilk pound cake
To bake old fashioned buttermilk pound cake, you will need:
- All purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Lemon juice and lemon zest
- Vanilla extract
If you want to make a simple glaze for this cake, you’ll need:
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Lemon juice
Tools needed to make classic buttermilk pound cake
When making pound cakes, I like using my stand mixer to cream the butter. But a handheld electric mixer works too.
As for the cake pans, I either use a 10-inch tube pan or loaf pans (this recipe is good for 2 9×5 inch pans). You can use a 10-cup bundt pan too
Other things you’ll need include:
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Parchment paper
- Wire rack
How to make buttermilk pound cake recipe from scratch
Making buttermilk pound cake from scratch is easier than you think.
1. PREP PANS. First you’ll want to preheat your oven to 325F. Then grease the cake pans you’re going to use. When baking pound cakes, I usually use either a tube pan or 2 loaf pans. If using a tube pan, line the bottom with parchment paper. Check out this post with step-by-step photos on how to line a tube pan.
2. COMBINE DRY INGREDIENTS. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. CREAM BUTTER. Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
4. ADD EGGS. Switch to low speed and eggs one at time, making sure each one is incorporated well after each addition.
5. ADD LEMON AND VANILLA. Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
6. COMBINE DRY INGREDIENTS AND BUTTERMILK ALTERNATELY. Add in a third of your flour mixture then half of your buttermilk. Then another third of your flour, the rest of your buttermilk and finally the last of your flour, making sure to combine well after each addition.
7. TRANSFER TO PAN AND BAKE. Transfer the cake batter into prepared pans and bake until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and if a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with minimal dry crumbs clinging to it. 60-75 minutes for loaf pans; longer for a tube pan. Every oven is different so if it looks like your cake isn’t ready, then it needs to bake longer.
8. ALLOW TO COOL. Take out from oven and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
If making the glaze, simply mix confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves completely. Drizzle on the cakes while still warm.
Buttermilk pound cake recipe FAQs
What I’ve found as the key to making simple cakes spectacular is to spring for the best ingredients. In this case, look away from those budget butters and buy the best one in the store.
And the best vanilla extract you can find. They will make a difference.
Here are other tips to making the best buttermilk pound cake.
What’s a good substitute for buttermilk?
No buttermilk? No problem. It’s easy to make your own buttermilk. It won’t be as thick as the ones you can buy in the store but will work in a pinch.
Just mix a cup of milk and a tablespoon of lemon juice, stir then let sit in room temperature for 30 minutes.
What is the best cake pan to use when baking pound cakes?
Like I mentioned above, I usually use two kinds of pans when making pound cakes: either a tube pan or a couple of loaf pans. Bundt pans work well too.
Just be aware that baking time changes with each pan you use. Just watch for signs that the cake is done (e.g. toothpick test).
How to avoid buttermilk pound cakes from sticking to pan
When I use a loaf pan, I make sure to grease the bottom and sides of the pan thoroughly to avoid a sticky situation later. I use non-stick baking spray.
For a tube pan, in addition to greasing the pan, I also line the bottom with parchment paper.
Bundt pans need special attention, especially if your pan has intricate details. I like using melted shortening + sugar to prep my bundt pans while other bakers like using butter + flour. Stick to whatever works for you.
Here are more useful tips for prepping your bundt cake pans.
Cake recipes that use buttermilk
Looking to bake more buttermilk cakes? Try these delicious cake recipes, you won’t be disappointed!
Easy cherry cake that’s very easy to make and so delicious you’d want to bake it all summer long. Dense but soft, not too sweet, bursting with wonderful cherry flavour.
Like this buttermilk pound cake, this red velvet cake with ermine frosting is the red velvet cake of the good old days. It’s not weighed down with heavy cream cheese but paired with the most delicate whipped ermine frosting. The combination is delicious!
The funfetti cake is the most awesome birthday cake you can bake for someone you love. Not only does it scream fun and happiness inside and out, it’s also a really delicious cake that’s packed with the vanilla flavour everyone loves.
Plus, check out this collection of sweet and savoury recipes using leftover buttermilk. You’ll want to have leftover buttermilk all the time now. Enjoy!
Old Fashioned Buttermilk Pound Cake
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 6 pcs large eggs room temperature
- 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 medium-sized lemon should be enough
- lemon zest I usually just put in all the zest from my lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
Optional Lemon Glaze:
- ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- Preheat your oven to 325F. Then grease the cake pans you’re going to use. When baking pound cakes, I usually use either a tube pan or 2 loaf pans. If using a tube pan, line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1 cup butter and 3 cups sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
- Switch to low speed and add the 6 eggs one at time, making sure each one is incorporated well after each addition.
- Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons lemon zest and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
- Add in a third of your flour mixture then half of your buttermilk. Then another third of your flour, the rest of your buttermilk and finally the last of your flour, making sure to combine well after each addition.
- Transfer the batter into prepared pans and bake for 60-75 minutes (see notes). The cakes are done when they start to pull away from the sides of the pan and if a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with minimal dry crumbs clinging to it.
- Take out from oven and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Drizzle with lemon glaze, if using, while the cakes are still warm.
Optional Lemon Glaze:
- Mix ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a small bowl until the sugar completely dissolves and the consistency becomes runny.
- Baking time will vary based on the pan you use. When I use an 8.5×4.5 inch pan loaf pan, the cake is done in 60 minutes. On a 9×5 inch pan, it’s done baking in 75 minutes. A tube pan takes a little longer. Every oven is different so watch your cakes – just don’t test for doneness too soon (I’d say wait until an hour has gone by before you open that oven).
- See the post for the complete step-by-step photos and other FAQs.
Nutritional information are estimates only.
Did you make classic buttermilk pound cake from scratch? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
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This pound cake is to die for and everybody I’ve made it for agrees. Thank you for sharing!! My husband asks me to make “10-pound cake” as he always wishes for more!
Glad you like it! It’s a family favorite as well 🙂
My family doesn’t really love lemon (don’t know what’s up with that!). How do I adjust omitting lemon?
Hi Maggie. I personally haven’t tried (we’re obsessed with lemons lol) though I read you can substitute lime or orange.
How long did you cook the mini loads? I’m going to try muffin size + generally seem to bake 10-15 min less Or am I over baking them? It taste good but I always wonder time wise.
Hi Sue, in my oven when I use an 8.5×4.5 inch pan loaf pan, the cake is done in 60 minutes. On a 9×5 inch pan, it’s done baking in 75 minutes. Have not tried in muffin pans, so can’t say. What you can do is check after about 20 minutes and see how much longer you need to go.
Just made the cake and utterly delicious! Tried various buttermilk pound cakes recipes before but my family said this is the best. Followed the recipe using tube pan and decreased the sugar by a cup, did not use the glaze. Turned out perfectly, will look at your other recipes for future use. Thanks for sharing
That’s awesome Elaine! Happy to hear you and the family liked it 🙂
Thank you for your recipes.. the pictures look beautiful.. may I ask how much a cup of flour weighs..
Hi Jenny, 1 cup of flour = 128 g. You can toggle from US Customary to Metric in the ingredient list.
This was so good! I found this recipe while looking for something to use lefter buttermilk. I used mini loaf pans and got 7 loaves. I froze them so we can enjoy them later. Awesome recipe that will be made again many times. Thanks for sharing!
That’s awesome Tracy! Glad you liked it. It’s really a great recipe for leftover buttermilk.
I only have one loaf pan… is it ok to let the rest of the batter sit in the fridge while the first one bakes and cools, or will I lose the levity?
Hi Sarah, best to bake as soon as the batter is ready.
I made your pound cake last weekend as a dry run for thanksgiving and it was gone in an instant! Today 2 cakes are in the oven and my boys are hovering in the kitchen it’s likely not going to last until my in-laws get here. Thank you for the recipe.
Hi Lolita! Happy to hear that! Hope you had a lovely thanksgiving.
you know you can freeze buttermilk, I do it all the time!! I am making this cake latter on today!
Tasty recipe!!! Thank you for sharing
Thanks very much Ruthie! Glad you liked it 🙂