A Southern Woman’s Secret Pound Cake Recipe

It is a rare occasion when we are sent a recipe that makes us stand up and take notice, but that is exactly what Melinda Rainey Thompson has done with her pound cake. Upon receiving Melinda’s email, I forwarded it to Tiffany, who responded, “We need to know her.” It is our pleasure to introduce this hilarious Southerner today. We hope you enjoy Melinda’s writing, and her pound cake recipe, as much as we do.

pound cake recipes from scratch

Pound Cake Recipe Revealed

I am about to give you the best pound cake recipe ever—bar none. I’m a Southern woman, born and bred, and I promise you: This is THE ONE. I often make it to accompany consoling casseroles when someone’s roll is called up yonder. Friends, relations, office workers, and repairmen—anyone who needs sweetening in my life gets a pound cake. This cake says: “Forgive me,” “Happy Birthday,” “Get Well Soon,” “I’m Sorry You Lost Your Job,” and “Please finish re-tiling my bathroom before Christmas.”

It’s a very versatile recipe. I’m a writer; I once mailed this pound cake to North Carolina to thank an editor who liked my first book. Even after being jostled by the post office, this cake got rave reviews. My kids expect it to appear on the sideboard at every family occasion. They think the regular consumption of this cake is their God-given, constitutionally protected birthright.

pound cake recipes from scratch

I’ve left my mark on earth with this pound cake, and I’m going to tell you exactly how to make it. I really am. I’m not going to leave out any ingredients, like some Southern women I know, who do that to ensure that your pound cake never quite lives up to theirs. I’m a bigger person that that. I feel rather virtuous as I’m typing this, as if I’ve just made a generous donation to a worthy cause. I promise you one thing: When you try it, you are going to want to kiss me right on the mouth.

pound cake recipes from scratch

Here’s what you need to do: Put three cups of sugar, one bar (eight ounces) of cream cheese, and three sticks plus two tablespoons REAL butter (no cheating, you’ll ruin my recipe) in a mixer.

If you have time, let the butter and cheese come to room temperature first. If you don’t, microwave them to soften them up.

pound cake recipe

Mix. Gradually alternate adding three cups of plain flour and six large eggs, slightly beaten, until the mixture is a bit thicker than pancake batter. (This is not quantum physics; don’t overthink these instructions.) I use a forty-something-year-old Kitchen Aid mixer I bought at a yard sale. It works fine.

pound cake recipes

Finally, add one teaspoon of each of the following flavorings: (They’re expensive to buy the first time, but then you’ll have them on hand for several more cakes; you will be asked to bake more. Trust me.) Vanilla, (Real, no imitations, Southerners do not like fake flowers, butter, or anything else.) almond, brandy, sherry (You can use cooking-grade liquors.), and coconut. If you don’t like one of these flavorings, you can double up on something else.

Feel free to adjust to your family’s taste. This isn’t holy writ. But don’t use fake anything—no matter what. Forget about those low-fat substitutions you’re considering. This is a CAKE, for heaven’s sake. Mix in the flavorings.

pound cake recipes

Pour the batter into one greased Bundt pan or two loaf pans (If you’d like smaller loaves which are easier to share and slice perfectly for strawberry shortcake, choose the loaf pans. Beat a pint of heaving whipping cream with a little sugar if you’re so inclined, and slice up the berries. Don’t use that canned whipped cream that kids like to squirt in their mouths. Remember: Fake is BAD. Real is GOOD.).

pound cake recipes

DO NOT PREHEAT YOUR OVEN. (I know, I know. It’s unusual.) Bake at 300 degrees for about one hour and ten minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE THIS POUND CAKE! You want “sad streaks” which make it so moist and delicious your eyes roll back in your head when you taste it. Ovens vary, of course. Mine came over on the ark, so work with what you have, and check to see how that cake is coming along. It’s done when a toothpick comes out of the middle cleanly, but this is a judgment call. I like my pound cakes a bit underdone. That’s one of my secrets.

When you remove the cake from the oven, let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for five or ten minutes. While the cake is cooling, melt one cup of sugar in a half cup of water in a boiler on the stove. Remove the pan from heat, and add one teaspoon of each flavoring. Slide a sharp knife around the edges of the cake pan before inverting it to help release the cake. Turn it out quickly onto a plate and then immediately flip it right side up on to the platter you are going to serve it on. Feel free to hold your breath and pray. It can’t hurt. Allow the cake to rest for a few minutes, and then spoon the glaze over it. Leave it uncovered for a few hours until the liquid has been absorbed.

Pound Cake Warning:

This cake is finicky, but it’s worth the trouble. Because it is so deliciously moist, it sometimes sticks to the pan. It takes practice to get it just right. Do not worry if your pound cake falls apart or sticks. That is how God urges you to make trifle. I promise you one thing: People will gladly scrape this pound cake up with a spoon. It’s that good.

About the Author

I've Had It Up To Here With TeenagersMelinda Rainey Thompson is an award-winning author of three books: Southern Women Aging Gracefully, The SWAG Life, and I Love You—Now Hush. Her newest release, I’ve Had It Up To Here With Teenagers, will be published in April 2012. You can check her out on her fan page at Facebook.com/melindaraineythompson and visit her blog at melindaraineythompson.wordpress.com. On Twitter, she is mrtswag. Melinda responds to email, tweets, Facebook messages, smoke signals, and more.


About Francesca

One of two behind The SITS Girls and Bloggy Boot Camp. Believer that this community is a movement, and not just a website. Currently on a quest for unending free WiFi & stronger caffeine. I'd love to get to know you better: Find me on Twitter @FranBanducci and on Google+.
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  1. Julie Pecevecz says

    Hi Girls!

    GREAT pound cake; however, I noticed a discrepancy in the glaze measurements. I can only assume that it is a half cup of water to 1 cup sugar, because of the volume of liquid, right?? Regardless . . . it’s out of this world tasty!!


  2. Girl from Colorado says

    Last month my husband’s aunt passed away. In her will she gave me first position to go through her (dreamy) kitchen and take whatever I wanted. (this woman MUST be in heaven right now)
    It was all about the baking…so I quickly went for HER KitchenAid mixer. It’s probably 70 yrs old. (a wedding gift)
    Hubby lugged that beast through the airport for me….what a man.
    (Note: Next year KitchenAid will celebrate 95 yrs of mixer-makin’ !!!!)
    As luck would have it…hubby has been working in Mississippi all week so I though it appropriate to have something yummy and southern waiting on the counter for him after beating his way through the airports. (what a man I have….words don’t describe)
    So I took my virgin trip with the mixer and YOUR RECIPE. I made 2 loaves so that I could “test one” before subjecting him to the delicacy.
    I “tested”….then I took a 3 mile run praying to the fat gods to recognize my determination. I think I probably staved off the poundage, however, the dog is NOT lovin’ the need for 2 runs a day {{{sigh}}}

    Thank you so much for sharing Melinda….

    Best – “the girl”

  3. says

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    us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be
    tweeting this to my followers! Fantastic blog and amazing design.

  4. says

    Hi, I just want to double check with you. In this recipe the glaze is one cup water, with one-half cup sugar. In your blog comments above the recipe you say mix one cup sugar into one-half cup water……..which is correct? Thanks! Sandy

  5. JCChar says

    This recipe was awful! Made it twice in one day, extended the cooking time (1.75 on the second one and it sank worse than the first one.), and followed the recipe to the letter and it still sank. My oven is on-target with the temperature. I have read this recipe over-and-over trying to see if there might be something missing. I cut the second one and it was almost raw in the middle while the outer edge of the cake was close to perfect. It does make a delicious top crust as it fell off even before I took it out of the pan.

  6. Suzanne Fleming says

    Hi there. This looks great, but I have one question. Do you use salted butter or unsalted?

  7. Katie says

    I’m going to make this this weekend. Do you think it would be better the next day? (i.e. would it be “sadder”?) I know some pound cakes are like that.

  8. Betty says

    I prepared this cake today. The results are incredible. I was looking for a vanilla cake recipe smooth, dense and full of flavor…. After several intents, I found it. This is THE CAKE!!!! Better… Impossible
    Thanks for sharing,

  9. says

    I recently moved from the South, and this definitely takes me home again. I can’t wait to try this recipe! Maybe with some chocolate sauce too… :) Thanks so much for sharing!


  10. Angela says

    Secret pound cake my a**. This pound cake recipe is in my Gourmet Magazine Cookbook listed as Elvis’ Favorite Pound Cake. My aunt also has the same recipe, but it was supposed to be the a secret recipe of friend of hers.

    • says

      I love how the taste of something brings back memories. I bet your family will love the old 7 Up recipe. I have a coca-cola chocolate sheet cake one that I like, too. Nothing new under the sun, really, but it’s fun to give something a new life!

  11. says

    I’m all about keeping food traditions alive and well.

    Born and raised in Maryland and just recently decided to start doing some research about the food heritage of the Eastern Shore of Maryland-which is where my family is from although I grew up ‘off the shore’

    SITS Luv and Best Wishes’

  12. says

    There’s nothing like a nice slice of SERIOUS pound cake and your recipe is just that. The women in my family (more my mom’s generation) have fought, for years, about who makes the best pound cake. I give my vote to my deceased grandmother, Mamie, every time it comes up.

    One Auntie makes a 7Up pound cake that is to die for. Another one specializes in her famous lemon pound cake. The other couple who profess to make and serve up the best bake “traditional”. It’s too funny listening to each one of them pontificate about just how great their recipe is, how they’re better at cracking eggs – effortlessly and without EVER spilling a single piece of eggshell into their batter, who can make their recipe from scratch WITHOUT bothering to have to look at the recipe, and on and on. I tell you, they’re a hoot!

    Next to my grandma Mamie’s recipe, I’d have to stay loyal to the “fam” and rank my family’s personal “Chef de Cuisine”, my deceased Aunt Rose, to come in second place. That woman was the “cooking-est” person you’d ever have wanted to meet. Back in the day, she kept her “knives sharpened” at Michigan State University’s frat house, Zet Beta Tau, serving up prime rib and Yorkshire pudding so good that I just know that ZBT Alumni who remember are still talking about her skills.

    But you – you’ve got it goin’ on yourself, Missy. Your recipe is looking mighty fine (love the pics, by the way!). So I’d say, you’re right up there with my family’s best. Your recipe resembles my grandmother’s, which is one of, if not THEE BEST.

    I enjoyed your post. Thanks.

  13. Brooke says

    Love this recipe (and Melinda’s style)! Can’t wait to get my hands on her books!

  14. Renea Lucy says

    I know this sweet Southern lady and this IS the BEST pound cake you’ll ever taste! Her books are pretty wonderful too!

  15. says

    Dang it! I can already feel the 5 pounds coming on for this recipe. And why does she keep insisting that we SHARE it? This looks like the kind of cake you bake right after the hubby leaves for work, eat, clean the pan and he never knew it was there?? Doesn’t everyone do that? Oh dear, perhaps not…

  16. says

    Fabulous! I’ve made a “cold oven” pound cake before but this recipe looks even better. My family is from Mississippi so you’re preaching to the choir here with your great riffs on Southern sensibilities.

  17. says

    ha ha ha…such a funny lady! LOVE the recipe and can’t wait to try..I’ve been looking for a good pound cake recipe…Thanks!

  18. says

    Love her attitude – it’s refreshing. And I love how she’s testing whether we’re paying attention by putting imitation vanilla and coconut extract in the picture. I’m a food blogger – of course I noticed :-)

    As for the recipe plug-in – when I get my blog moved to wordpress.org – can I call you?!

    Great job all the way around!

  19. Cindy Capenter says

    This looks like one of those wonderful old cakes my grandmother used to make. I can’t wait to try it and to read Melinda’s blog. I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed while reading a recipe until now.

    • Kat says

      This recipe is SOOOOO GOOD! Made me want to slap my momma for making a better cake!