Recipe Review

I Tried Carla Hall’s Five-Flavor Pound Cake (It’s One of Her Family’s Favorite Desserts)

published Jun 22, 2021
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Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

The minute I read Carla Hall’s description of her Granny’s five-flavor pound cake recipe, I knew I had to include it in our showdown. Not only does she call it the “best cake ever,” but she also describes it as moist, complex in flavor, and totally foolproof. She even got it printed on the menu at the first restaurant she worked at after culinary school!

While the technique for this pound cake looked to be pretty standard, there were two ingredients that stood out to me. The first is its use of sour cream. I love adding sour cream to baked goods for its subtle tang and how it keeps cakes moist, so I had high hopes for how it would perform in pound cake. I had also never tried a five-flavor pound cake, and I was intrigued: The batter calls for vanilla, rum, coconut, lemon, and almond extracts. Would this boost of flavor be the secret to making this pound cake stand out? Here’s what happened when I tried it at home.

Get the recipe: Carla Hall’s Granny’s Five-Flavor Pound Cake

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

How to Make Carla Hall’s Pound Cake Recipe

Start by sifting the flour into a large bowl. Measure out 3 cups, add it to a sieve along with baking powder and salt, and sift once more. 

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the batter between each addition. Alternate adding the flour mixture and sour cream in thirds until fully combined. Add each extract one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Continue beating the batter until it’s smooth and shiny.

Transfer the batter to a greased 10-cup Bundt or tube pan. Smooth into an even layer and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden-brown. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving. 

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

My Honest Review of Carla Hall’s Pound Cake

I’ll start by saying that this recipe came together quickly and easily. The timing was spot-on, and there weren’t any instructions that could potentially trip you up. Carla promises that the cake will smell really good as it bakes, and it did!

With that said, my biggest qualm with this recipe is that it didn’t really taste or feel like a pound cake to me. To me, the perfect pound cake is tender and moist, with a good crust on the outside. But this one emerged from the oven with a perfectly smooth, golden-brown exterior and was oddly soft to the touch. Slicing into the cake felt almost like a cross between an Angel food cake and Japanese cheesecake, with a texture that sprung back and almost jiggled. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing — because the cake is so light, I do think it would work well in a trifle to soak up whipped cream and fruit — it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

The five extracts definitely gave this cake tropical vibes, which could be nice depending on how and when you’re serving it. Most five-flavor pound cake recipes tell you to switch up the extracts as you please, so I’d say pick your favorite flavors rather than stick exactly to this recipe.

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

If You’re Making Carla Hall’s Pound Cake, a Tip

  • Play around with the extracts: If I were to make this cake again, I would either switch up how much of each extract I used, or just choose two and go all in on those. Possible combinations include coconut & rum, lemon & almond, coconut & lemon, or vanilla & rum. 

Overall Rating: 7/10

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Have you ever made Carla Hall’s pound cake? Let us know in the comments!