This gluten-free pound cake is dense and buttery. It’s perfect for cake lovers. Made with gluten-free flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and just a little baking powder to lighten it. Serve it plain or with whipped cream and fresh berries.
What is a pound cake?
Pound cakes date back to the early 18th century. They’re dense, butter-based cakes. The original recipes were said to include a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of eggs, and a pound of flour. Hence the name: pound cake.
Today there are many pound cake variations—with lemon being the most popular. This gluten-free recipe is a nod to the original pound cakes. It’s made with lots of butter and eggs. And in a nod to today’s tastes, it contains just a baking powder to give it a dense but light crumb.
Gluten-Free Pound Cake Ingredients and Substitutions.
Similar to the original pound cakes that called for only butter, eggs, sugar, and flour, this recipe calls for only six ingredients. Plus, vanilla, if you’d like to use it.
- Butter. The flavor and texture of a great pound cake come from butter. Both salted and unsalted work in this recipe. If you want a deeper, yet still delicate buttery flavor, use cultured butter.
For a dairy-free pound cake, replace the butter with a high-quality dairy-free buttery spread. Since butter is the main flavor for this cake, use one that tastes great and is meant for baking.
- Sugar. Granulated (table) sugar sweetens the cake. Brown sugar can be used. Since brown sugar contains molasses, the flavor, texture, and color of a pound cake made with brown sugar is very different from one made with granulated sugar.
- Eggs. The eggs in this recipe do a few things. They provide structure, and richness, and help to leaven the cake. For the best texture, use room temperature, not cold eggs.
Note: This pound cake recipe doesn’t work well with egg replacers.
- Gluten-Free Flour. To support the heaviness of the butter, sugar, and eggs, use a gluten-free flour that contains xanthan gum. If your blend doesn’t include it, whisk a teaspoon into the flour before using.
- Baking Powder. Traditional pound cake recipes don’t use baking powder, making for a very heavy cake. To suit our modern tastes, a little baking powder is included in the recipe to help lighten the cake slightly.
- Vanilla Extract. (optional )It surprises people that vanilla is an optional ingredient. As much as I love vanilla, I find that a pound cake doesn’t need it. The butter flavor tastes center stage. If you’d like to use it, add up to two teaspoons to the batter.
- Salt. A little salt adds flavor. Don’t skip it–even if you’re using salted butter. Use table salt (fine salt) in this recipe. It mixes evenly into the batter.
How to Make a Gluten-Free Pound. Four Tips for Success.
There are a few important steps to follow when you make a gluten-free pound cake. Follow these and you’ll have a perfect cake every time.
Tip #1: Use room temperature butter.
The temperature of the butter really matters when making pound cake. If the butter is too cold, the cake comes out dense and heavy. If it’s too warm, the cake feels greasy.
If you’ve made my gluten-free vanilla cake, you know that the best temperature for butter is between 65°F and 68°F (18°C and 20°C.) At this temperature, the butter fluffs up nicely. And that’s what we’re aiming for: fluffy butter.
When you cream the butter together with the sugar, look for the color to change. It turns almost white. Think: fluffy frosting. That “fluff” is the trapped air that helps lighten the pound cake.
The Best Method for Softing Butter. (And two others that work in a pinch!)
The best and easiest method for softening butter is to leave it on the counter at room temperature. In a 70°F (21°C) kitchen, it takes a stick of butter about an hour to soften. If your kitchen is hot, especially in the summer, check it after 30 minutes. You don’t want it to get too soft.
Softening butter on the counter is easy but it’s not fast. If you need to soften butter quickly, here are two other methods to try.
Cut butter into large pieces and place it onto a microwave-safe dish. Some microwaves have a “soften butter” setting. If yours does, great. If not microwave the butter in 10-second bursts at the lowest power setting. You don’t want any melted spots.
“Hot Glass” Method.
Pour hot (not boiling) water into a tall heat-safe glass or ceramic cup. After two minutes, pour out the water. Place the warm cup immediately over the unwrapped stick of butter. Let the butter sit under the cup for about five minutes. Unwrap the butter and use as directed.
Tip #2. Don’t Rush Mixing the Butter.
Once the butter is nice and soft, combine it with the sugar and beat it until light. (If you’re using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment for this step.)
Beat until it’s really light and fluffy. This takes about four to five minutes. And you don’t want to rush it. A light and fluffy butter-sugar mixture makes for a light cake.
After about two minutes of mixing, stop the mixer. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. The reason we do this is to clear the layer of thick butter clinging to the bowl. Even the best stand mixer with a “scraper” paddle attachment can have this happen. That layer of butter, if not scraped from the bowl, can blend into the batter, causing dense spots.
Tip #3. Add the Eggs Slowly. And a tablespoon of flour.
When it comes to adding the eggs, remember: slow is the way to go.
Eggs contain water and butter is a fat. You know how salad dressing separates? The same thing can happen with butter and eggs. And that is called breaking. Suddenly the beautiful fluffy butter looks curdled.
This can happen when the eggs are added too quickly or even if the eggs are just a little too cool.
But sometimes, even when you do everything right, the butter curdles and breaks. And gluten-free cakes made with a broken butter turn out coarse and greasy.
The good news is that there’s a really easy way to prevent this. First, add the eggs one at a time. You want to let each egg mix into the butter before adding the next one. After you add the third egg, add one tablespoon of the gluten-free flour mixture. The flour helps to hold everything together. No broken butter and a perfect pound cake.
Once all the eggs have been added, it’s time for the easy part: making the batter. Stop the mixer and add the flour mixture. Turn the mixer to low. A low start prevents the flour from puffing out of the bowl. After a few seconds, increase the speed to medium. Mix until the batter is smooth and fluffy.
Tip #4. Bake Until Brown.
Gluten-free pound cake takes a little over an hour to bake. Before you make the batter, turn on your oven so it’s hot when you’re ready to bake the cake. Most ovens take about 15 minutes to preheat. If the batter is mixed before the oven is up to temperature, don’t worry about it. A short wait in the pan is great for the gluten-free pound cake batter. It gives the flour time to absorb the liquid ingredients. This makes for a cake with a delicate and soft crumb.
Bake until the loaf is a deep brown. A cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean.
If you notice the cake starts to get too dark before the center is done, cover it lightly with a piece of foil. Return the pan to the oven to finish baking. The foil prevents the top of the loaf from burning.
Tip #5. Cool on a Rack.
After baking, let the pound cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. If you remove it from the pan too soon, it can break apart. But don’t let it cool fully in the pan. Gluten-free flour, especially the xanthan gum, loves to hold onto moisture. Removing the cake from the pan lets the steam escape and keeps the crumb delicate, not gummy.
The Best Pan for a Gluten-Free Pound Cake.
A 9 x5-inch pan, often called a loaf pan, is a handy, almost essential pan. It makes great loaf cakes, like this one. You can also use it for sandwich bread and meatloaf. And while the size of the pan is listed right in the name, the sizes vary. Some pans are labeled 9×5 inches but are 8 ½ by 4 ½. This can be a little small for this recipe.
Fill your pan about ¾ full. If you fill it to the top, it can overflow as it bakes. And if you’ve got leftover batter, make one or two cupcakes.
How to Store and Freeze a Gluten-Free Pound Cake.
Gluten-free pound cakes are great “keepers”. Thanks to the amount of butter and sugar in the cake, they stay fresh for days. It’s important to cover the cake or the cut surface can dry out.
How to Freeze and Thaw a Gluten-Free Pound Cake
Gluten-Free pound cakes freeze beautifully. Here’s what to do.
- Let the cake cool completely. If you freeze a warm gluten-free pound cake, it can get gummy when frozen.
- Wrap tightly. To keep the cake from drying out, wrap it tightly. A layer of plastic wrap and foil is best.
- When ready to eat, remove the pound cake from the freezer. Let it thaw at room temperature. Don’t rush defrosting by placing the cake in an oven. This can dry out the cake.
Gluten-Free Pound Cake
This gluten-free pound cake is dense and buttery. Made with gluten-free flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and just a little baking powder to lighten it.
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free flour (8 ounces; 226 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup softened butter, about 65°F degrees (8 ounces; 226 grams)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (8 ounces; 226 grams)
- 5 large eggs (about 9 ounces; 255 grams out of shell)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or brush with solid shortening and lightly dust with gluten-free flour. Optional: after greasing, line the pan with a 7- by 13-inch sheet of parchment paper.
Whisk the gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until very light, about five minutes. After two minutes, stop the mixer. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to remove the layer of thick butter. Beat for another three minutes.
Add three eggs, one at a time. It's important to let each egg mix into the butter before adding the next. Don't rush this.
After the third egg mixes into the batter, add one tablespoon of the gluten-free flour mix.
Add the remaining two eggs, one at a time.
After the last egg is added, stop the mixer. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. (If you’re using vanilla extract, add it now.) Turn the mixer to medium-high. Beat until light and fluffy, about two minutes.
Stop the mixer. Add the flour blend. Turn the mixer to low. Mix for a few seconds. Increase the speed to medium and blend just until a batter forms.
Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. Fill the pan about ⅔ full. If your pan is small, set aside about ⅓ cup of batter. You can use the remaining batter to make a cupcake or two.
Bake until golden brown, about 60 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center of the should come out clean. If the top of the cake is getting too brown before the center is baked, place a piece of foil over the cake and finish baking.
Remove the pan from the oven. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove the cake from the pan and place it on a wire rack to cool.
Store tightly wrapped on the counter for up to four days. Or freeze for up to three months.
Gluten-Free Flour. Use a gluten-free flour blend that contains xanthan gum. If your blend doesn’t contain xanthan gum, whisk in ½ teaspoon along with the salt and baking powder.
This recipe was tested with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour. Due to the variations in gluten-free flour blends, some blends work better than others.
Butter. It’s important to use softened butter. You want the temperature of the butter around 65°F. If the butter is too cold, it won’t get fluffy and the cake will be dense. If the butter is too soft (when it looks greasy or has melted spots), the cake will turn out dense and greasy.
Eggs. Use room temperature eggs.
Vanilla Extract. The vanilla extract is optional use up to two teaspoons.
Mixing and Baking Notes.
If the butter and sugar mixture looks curdled at any point during mixing, add one tablespoon of the gluten-free flour mixture.
Fill the pan about ⅔ full. If the pan is too full, it can overflow during baking and cause a mess.