Recipe Review

Ina Garten’s “Perfect” Pound Cake Lives Up to Its Name (I’m Completely Smitten)

published Jun 23, 2021
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Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

A few months back, I was watching a show on HGTV where a woman baked a pound cake by starting it in a cold oven. I didn’t think much of it until I saw that Ina Garten follows the same practice in her perfect pound cake recipe. After doing a little digging, I learned that slowly cooking the pound cake rather than shocking it with high heat is supposed to result in a more delicate pound cake with a tender crumb.

Naturally, I was curious. Would this new-to-me technique actually result in better pound cake? Here’s what I found out when I tested it. 

Get the recipe: Ina Garten’s Perfect Pound Cake

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

How to Make Ina Garten’s Pound Cake Recipe

Before you begin, disregard your instinct to preheat the oven — you want to keep it cold. Generously grease a 12-cup Bundt pan or two loaf pans and sprinkle the insides with turbinado sugar. 

Sift the cake flour and salt through a sieve three times. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and orange zest and mix to combine. Alternate adding the flour mixture and heavy cream in thirds until fully combined. Add each extract one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth in an even layer. Place in the oven, then turn the heat on to 350˚F. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden-brown. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Credit: Alex deBoschnek
My first test, baked in two loaf pans.

My Honest Review of Ina Garten’s Pound Cake

This recipe took me on a roller coaster of emotions, kind of like a bad ex-boyfriend you keep going back to. While I was assembling the cakes (I opted for the two loaf pans), I felt like I was on top of the world. Everything went exactly to plan, and when I tried the batter — perfumed with real vanilla bean and orange zest — I was completely smitten.

But during the baking process, things took a turn. Ina calls for you to pull the cake out at 55 minutes, but when I checked the consistency of my cakes with a toothpick, they were still soupy. After 20 more minutes the cakes seemed like they were just baked through with deeply golden crusts, so I pulled them out of the oven. At this point I had extremely low expectations for how good this pound cake could be.

When it was finally time to slice into the cake, I was quickly proven wrong. This pound cake has an exceptionally tender, moist crumb, with an incredible crackly crust, thanks to the turbinado sugar that lines the pan. The flavor was spot-on, too, with just the right amount of sweetness. Now that I know to bake it longer than instructed, I would absolutely make this pound cake again. 

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

If You’re Making Ina Garten’s Pound Cake, a Few Tips

  • Up the turbinado sugar: The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of turbinado sugar to line the Bundt or loaf pans before baking. I would recommend using a scant 1/2 cup to ensure that the pan or pans are fully lined. The turbinado sugar adds such a good textural contrast to the crumb that you really don’t want to skip out on it. 
  • Check the cakes with a toothpick: Every oven is different, but I’m certain that 55 minutes isn’t enough time to bake this pound cake if you’re starting with a cold oven. I’d recommend starting to check at 1 hour, then every 5 minutes after until a toothpick comes out clean.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Have you tried Ina Garten’s pound cake recipe? Tell us what you thought in the comments!