Pound cakes are a dense, delectable, and buttery pastry that’s been around for centuries now.
This popular cake recipe was named because the first recipes used a one-pound portion for every key ingredient.
Key ingredients include flour, sugar, butter, and eggs, and some incorporate baking powder to achieve a fluffy and light texture.
But what if you don’t have baking powder available? Will that change the flavor of your cake?
Thankfully, you can still make pound cake without it and get the same moist and hearty flavor.
Here, we’ll show you how to make a pound cake without baking powder!
Since pound cake recipes transform into different flavors and versions over time, most recipes need a leavening agent to expand the batter.
Leavening agents act by forming air bubbles, therefore adding volume and making your cake soft.
Baking powder is the most common leavening agent used in pound cakes—it accounts for the soft, fluffy texture that dissolves in your mouth when you eat the cake.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your cake without it.
Thankfully, you can still make pound cake from scratch without adding a leavening or rising agent. In fact, some of the oldest known pound cake recipes don’t include baking powder.
Butter, sugar, eggs, and flour usually make up traditional pound cake recipes. It’s worth noting, though, that the lack of baking powder may cause a dry texture.
Mixing small portions of acidic and high-pH ingredients can compensate for the lack of baking powder.
So, if you’re not fond of dense, grainy pound cakes, here are some alternatives you can incorporate into your recipe to achieve a nice and velvety cake texture.
Mixing whipped egg whites into your pound cake batter prevents it from becoming too dense and dry after baking. You can use whipped cream instead of egg whites too.
To do so, separate egg yolks from the whites and whip them at low speed until you get stiff peaks.
Combining buttermilk with baking soda makes for an excellent baking powder substitute.
Add a gram of baking soda to about a half cup of buttermilk to compensate for approximately one teaspoon of baking powder.
Note that you need to reduce the amount of other liquids you’re planning to put in the recipe to avoid a watery batter.
Add half a teaspoon of lemon juice to a gram of baking soda to replace about five grams of baking powder. If you don’t have lemon juice, you can use white vinegar as an alternative.
Self-rising flour already contains baking powder, so replacing your all-purpose flour with it will give your cake an airy texture.
Contrary to popular belief that both ingredients serve the same purpose, baking soda alone isn’t a suitable baking powder substitute.
This is because baking powder is a combination of an acidic ingredient (usually cream of tartar) and a high pH component that acts as the activator.
Baking soda, on the other hand, is a basic or high pH ingredient alone that enhances browning in baked goods.
Given that fact, you need to mix baking soda with an acidic ingredient to achieve the rising effect that baking powder has on baked goods.
Making classic pound cake without baking powder is fast and easy—it takes five ingredients and about an hour of baking time.
This recipe makes three loaves of pound cake for up to 30 servings.
- 235 grams or about four sticks of butter (softened)
- 3 cups white sugar
- 4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 158 mL milk
- 6 eggs (large)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Prepare three 8×4-inch loaf pans and spray or coat them with grease before lining them with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine softened butter and sugar.
Set the mixer on medium speed and mix ingredients for about five to seven minutes or until the texture becomes light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix simultaneously.
- Gradually add flour and milk (alternatingly) to the mixture. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
- Using a spatula, transfer the batter evenly to the baking pans and pop them into the oven. Allow to bake for one hour and 10 minutes.
- About ten minutes until the cake finishes cooking, insert a toothpick at the center of the loaf to check for doneness.
If the toothpick comes out clean, take out the cakes and cool them for about 15 minutes before removing them from the pan.
You can top your cakes with confectioner’s sugar or whipped cream to elevate the taste.
Incorporating baking powder into a pound cake recipe makes it less dense and moist. Even so, you can still make delicious and fluffy pound cakes without baking powder.
You can use alternatives like whipped cream, beaten egg whites, or baking soda and buttermilk in place of baking powder.
You can also use our baking soda-free pound cake recipe that uses milk to make the cake moist and tasty.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.