Pound cake troublesPound cake troubles

I’m having problems either with my cake techniques or with my loaf pan. I made this delicious pound cake last weekend, from Martha Stewart’s baking book:


It tasted great, but the liquid ingredients seem to have been pushed to the center, where they bubbled up in a little puddle in the middle of the cake’s top, which had to be dug out with a spoon. I could see that that part of the cake wasn’t finished, but the sides were getting very done, and I had to get it out of the oven. And the whole cake was fine except for those few cubic inches up top. Is this normal, or is something wrong with my pan? A similar thing happens with Nigella Lawson’s wonderful dense chocolate cake, a cake that falls dramatically in its wet center every time I make it.

I used my new stand mixer for the pound cake, so everything should have been well incorporated. The oven was at temperature according to my thermometer. The (nonstick) pan is the right size, and I rotated it halfway through as instructed. And yet, the bubbling cauldron effect.

Still, it’s good cake.

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs

Preheat to 350ºF. Butter a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan. Whisk together the flour and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted the paddle, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined. Add the flour mixture with the mixer on low, and beat until just combined.

Pour the batter into the pan, smooth with an offset spatula, and bake for about 55 minutes, until golden and a tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn out the cake to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving, if desired.


Do you use a glass or pyrex loaf pan? That often can cause the problem you describe…

Hi Kevin. I forgot to say in the post that it’s a nonstick Cuisinart pan. Not very nice, but it’s what I have. Perhaps someone will recommend a good pan.

i found this online hun (baking911), not sure if it will help:

Butter / Pound cake recipes that have been used for years don’t seem to work anymore. These questions are not coming from amateur bakers but from experienced bakers who are asking, “What happened?”

One of my first questions is “Have you checked your oven to be sure the temperature is correct? If not, check it with an oven thermometer.” If the problem is not the oven, then it must be something you must have changed — ingredients, baking pans (different types), mixers (some are more powerful than others) or anything that’s different.

If you changed anything with the ingredients, the most likely explanation for this has to do with the flour. If you switch brands, such as from a National brand to a store brand, this type of problem can occur. Flour is milled from hard or soft wheat depending upon the season, area where it’s grown and availability. When millers change from one source to another (never letting us know) perhaps because of economics, too, the bag you are using could contain harder flour than the recipe calls for causing the cake to be heavy and not bake thoroughly. Stick with National brands where this is less apt to happen.

I have found stick butter works the best in butter / pound cakes. However, if you decide to use reduced-fat butter, the recipe won’t work because they contain a higher percentage of water to fat.

Thanks Jeannie, but I don’t think I committed any of these sins. I used my Kitchen-Aid on the lowest setting, I used King Arthur AP, and I used the same stick butter I use for everything else (Whole Foods brand unsalted). Also, my oven keeps its temperature well. It must be the pan, or the recipe! Martha?

Try baking it in a tube or bundt pan next time. I think pound cake recipes work better in that type of pan, a loaf pan just has too much batter to bake, leading to the problems you describe with the sides getting overdone and the center still raw.

Yep, I agree with Rebecca. I used to have that problem til I swtiched to a tube pan.

It took me years to figure out the tube pan thing; you are lucky to have Rebecca for a mommy!

I agree with your Mom about the pan. I don’t know if you remember Lazy Daisy Cake or if your mom used to make it. Our mother made it all the time (one of her all purpose cakes for after school snacks, lunch boxes, etc.). The recipe calls for a loaf pan and I tried it that way one time and had the same problem you did. After that I always made it like a sheet cake instead. I love that you’re getting into cake baking! If you want my recipe for peanut butter cake squares (another great all purpose cake) let me know and I’ll send it to you. That was always my kids favorite!

Actually, Sue, I wrote a post on Lasy Daisy cake; I still make it! And we still love it around here, especially the buttery, crunchy topping.

Have you tried starting w/ a cold oven? I think I have read that the initial heat encourges the leavening to help it rise a bit more and to give it that thicker out “crust” that many expect in a traditional poundcake. The older recipes that I have start in a cold oven.

I see your recipe calls for all purpose flour but no baking powder or baking soda. I don’t know if it could cause this problem, but it is odd!

I found this post in trying to figure out where an old family recipe of pound cake that a friend of mine made went wrong – and how I could improve over it. Couldn’t help but to comment on the baking powder or baking soda issue – our recipe has neither, and it concerned me, too. The second attempt at the cake (when my friend did NOT add baking soda anyway) turned out beautifully, but I was hoping to find info on technique as only the ingredients/quantities were passed down, so we are at a loss there. It is the cake recipe my husband’s great grandmother made for him as a kid, it is important to him!

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