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Pound Cake vs. Shortcake (What’s the Difference?)

Pound Cake vs. Shortcake (What’s the Difference?)

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You might be having guests over or tasked with bringing dessert at a potluck. Either way, you’re choosing between a pound cake and shortcake.

While both options offer a delectable dessert result, they vary in texture, preparation, and ingredients.
For instance, shortcakes have a biscuit-like texture and are usually served with berries and cream.

Meanwhile, pound cakes are denser. In most cases, they’re plated plain or with a lemony curd or glaze.

Besides that, stick around to learn more about the differences between shortcakes and pound cakes.

Shortcake Overview

Upon hearing the dessert’s name, you’d assume that its height bears some association. Nevertheless, shortcakes aren’t short.

The name comes from a past English cooking terminology that means full of fat and crisp. In turn, the cake’s texture is similar to a scone or biscuit.

Most shortcake variations come with strawberries and cream.

Pound Cake Overview

Pound cakes, as their name suggests, are a dessert consisting of a pound of each ingredient. These include eggs, flour, sugar, and butter.

Their texture is usually dense and decadent. Each bite is moist and flavorful. It’s served in slices, sometimes garnished with cream, fruits, or icings and syrups.

Differences and Similarities

Pound cakes and shortcakes differ in various ways. From preparation and ingredients to history and garnishes, each dessert holds a unique take.


Pound cakes and shortcakes use different ingredients during preparation.

Pound Cake

Pound cakes primarily use:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Eggs

There is a myriad of modified recipes for pound cakes, where you can substitute the eggs for yogurt, add sour cream, and other changes.


  • Strawberries
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Shortening
  • Whipped Cream

Like several baked goods, shortcakes have multiple alternatives and additions you can implement. For instance, some recipes call for buttermilk and eggs.


Texture-wise, pound cake and shortcake are on different spectrums. Pound cakes are usually dense and rich. Each bite should be moist and indulgent.

On the other hand, shortcakes veer towards the crisp side. They’re crumblier and eat more like a biscuit than a cake. The soft and creamy filling balances the dry exterior.


Preparation-wise shortcakes and pound cakes differ. In one way, shortcakes are prepared almost like a puff pastry.

You’re essentially creating a dough, rolling it out, and folding it over to make more scrumptious flaky layers.

Meanwhile, preparing a pound cake involves mixing a batter and relying on a leavening agent to create lift. In this case, it’s the eggs.


Both cakes share a similar history where they originated from old England before finding their way to U.S. palates.

Pound Cakes

Similar to shortcakes, pound cakes also have old English roots. The cake dates back to the 1700s.

By that time, they used a pound of each ingredient to make a hefty cake fit for large crowds.

By 1796, the pound cake had reached U.S. cookbooks. Amelia Simmons authored “American Cookery,” which included a couple of pound cake recipes.

Once the 1800s came, several alterations took place to create a lighter and more practical cake. The cake garnered lots of acclaim throughout the years.

There’s a “National Pound Cake Day” on March 4th. The day encourages you to bake the cake for your loved ones.


In terms of history, shortcakes outlive pound cakes. The prior dates as far back as 1588 in an Elizabethan cookbook titled, “The Good Huswifes Handmaid for Cookerie in her Kitchen.”

The recipe was for a strawberry shortcake. The U.K. shortcake then spread its wings to other continents.

Different regions started experimenting with the original recipe and created variations. For instance, the U.S. shortcake gained notoriety in the 19th century.

The country’s version of shortcake was more airy and fluffier thanks to the addition of baking soda. Over the years, strawberry shortcakes gained more fam in the U.S.

In 1869, the transcontinental railroad opened new doors for the strawberry market. The seasonal fruit became associated with the dessert.

Americans even celebrated it on “National Strawberry Shortcake Day,” held on the 14th of June.

Japanese Influence of Shortcake

Besides the U.S.’s intervention in the popular biscuit dessert, other continents enjoyed their variations as well.

Western shortcakes influenced Japanese versions. Unlike the crisp texture in the original recipe, Japanese pastry chefs used sponge cake instead.

It resulted in a mouth-watering layer of soft cakes, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries. The dessert became so popular that they designated it the “Japanese Christmas Cake.”

Can You Use Pound Cake for Strawberry Shortcake?

Shortcakes have multiple variations across the globe. In some places, they stick to scones or biscuits. Other places, like Japan, prefer to use sponge cakes.

For this reason, you can use pound cake for strawberry shortcakes. Here are the ingredients to get you started.

  • Three tablespoons of sugar
  • Three cups of strawberries
  • One teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • One loaf of pound cake
  • One cup of heavy cream

Firstly, mash half your batch of strawberries in a bowl. Then, add the other sliced half into the bowl.

Add sugar or lemon juice to your preferred taste, cover the fruits, and place them in your fridge. In a chilled bowl with cold beaters, whip your heavy cream. Incorporate sugar and vanilla.

For better results, start with cold heavy cream. Next, grab a slice of pound cake and add a few spoonfuls of your refrigerated strawberries.

Afterward, add a dollop of your whipped cream. You can garnish it with sprigs of mint or dig right in.

Final Thoughts

Pound cakes and shortcakes share most of their similarities in their origins, where both have old English roots. Plus, the desserts have their designated national days.

History aside, pound cakes are a denser treat. They have a more cake-like texture. On the other hand, shortcakes bear more resemblance to scones in a bite.

Plus, pound cakes are often served plain or with a glaze, whereas you can’t miss the berries and cream on your shortcake.

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