Cream Cheese Pound Cake (regular oven and steam oven methods)

This post includes affiliate links. Find out more about affiliate links and how they help this site.

Pound cake can be difficult to get just right. For something which is meant to be a classic and simple recipe, I’ve often found them either heavy as a brick or very dry. I do love a good cake challenge, though, and I’m pleased to say that after quite a few trial versions, this cream cheese pound cake ticks all the boxes for a great cake recipe.

Why is this such a perfect pound cake?

One hint is in the recipe title: cream cheese. Cream cheese and a touch of sour cream lend a richness and substance to the cake batter, cutting through something which would otherwise end up being a little too sweet. The resulting cake is dense but not brick-like, with a tender crumb and great keeping qualities. Citrus zest – lemon and lime today, although you could substitute orange or mandarin – also helps tone down the sweetness.

I’ve gotten great results baking this pound cake in a regular oven and a combi steam oven so I’m giving both methods in the recipe below. Combi steam makes the baking a little faster but the texture is lovely and soft with a burnished golden outside either way.

 Birds eye view of a whole cream cheese pound cake on a plate.

Ingredients for cream cheese pound cake

This is an unapologetic kind of cake and it’s not light on ingredients, although I did decrease the quantity of sugar based on a lot of pound cake recipes I’ve seen. There aren’t a lot of fancy ingredients here so I’d really encourage you to use the best version of each thing – real butter, decent eggs and good flour will be the difference between an average cake and a great one.

 Ingredients for cream cheese pound cake: flour, eggs, sour cream, lemons and limes, cream cheese, sugar, butter, vanilla, baking powder and salt.

Here’s what goes into a great from-scratch pound cake:

1.     Butter. And a lot of it. As well as bringing a rich and creamy flavor that’s integral to a good pound cake, and helping create a lovely tender texture, butter carries other flavors to make sure your cake will be fragrant, soft and, well, buttery. I use unsalted butter for almost all baking, which lets me control the salt content of whatever I’m making.

2.     Sugar. Lots of that, too. This is a big cake which will easily serve a dozen people, and though I have minimized the sugar as much as possible, this is not the time to go sugar free in your baking! Sugar improves the texture, taste and keeping qualities of your cake. I use superfine or caster sugar because it dissolves into the batter more easily when mixing.

3.     Citrus zest. I love anything with lemon or lime, but you can flavor your cake with any citrus you like, or leave it out altogether for a simple vanilla pound cake. If you’re wondering what to do with the juice of your citrus after adding the zest to your cake, it can be mixed with powdered sugar to make a glaze for your finished cake, upping the citrus factor even more.

4.     Cream cheese and sour cream. These might not have appeared in the pound cakes our grandmothers made, but once you’ve tried them I bet you’ll never go back. Cream cheese adds a hefty silkiness, while both of these ingredients add much needed moisture and make the cake keep well for days.

5.     Vanilla. Like the citrus, this isn’t strictly necessary to make a successful cake. I love vanilla’s heady fragrance, though. I make my own vanilla extract by steeping whole vanilla pods in vodka for a couple of months, but a good quality store bought extract or vanilla paste will do just as well.

6.     Eggs. Without eggs, most cakes would be flat and unappealing. They’re going to add aeration and volume to your pound cake, and help the risen cake set to a proper structure. The yolks also add richness. I use free range eggs in all my cooking, although if you have easy access to pastured eggs (or your own chickens!), even better.

7.     Flour. Although I’m not usually in favour of keeping many different types of flour in the pantry, I do find that softer cake flour is best for a pound cake. Regular flour contains more protein, which can make an already heavy cake too dense and firm. Look for something labelled soft flour or cake flour on your supermarket shelf.

8.     Baking powder. Although this cake doesn’t need a lot of leavening, a touch of baking powder makes the texture lighter.

9.     Salt. If you’ve used salted butter you can leave this out, however a touch of salt heightens the buttery and sweet notes of this pound cake (without making it salty!).

 

Some of my other favorite cake recipes:

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Simple Steam Oven Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream Frosting

My Nanna’s Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

 

How to make cream cheese pound cake

The big tip when it comes to making the best pound cake is to make sure everything is very well mixed at the beginning. The butter, sugar, cream cheese and sour cream need to be thoroughly mixed so they’re light, fluffy and pale before any eggs are added. Here’s a quick step by step picture guide to mixing and baking your pound cake.

 A bundt pan, greased and ready for cake batter.

Before you do anything, turn on the oven and prepare your pan. Grease it well either with nonstick spray, or by rubbing very soft butter all over the inside. Well-greased they’re fine, but bundt pans especially are notorious for sticking if they aren’t prepared properly.

 Butter, sugar and citrus zest in a bowl.

Put the butter, sugar and citrus zest into your mixing bowl and beat very well. They need to be light and creamy, and the sugar should be barely gritty, not sandy.

 Creamed butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.

Add in your cream cheese and beat until it’s very well mixed, then add the sour cream and vanilla and mix again. The mixture should be almost white at this point, and very fluffy.

 Creamed butter and sugar in a bowl, with cream cheese sitting on top ready to be mixed in.

Time for the eggs. It seems pedantic but add them one at a time, mixing to properly incorporate each one before adding another. This is a fine line – you want the eggs mixed in well without overmixing the batter, which will lead to a heavy cake.

 Adding eggs to creamed butter, sugar, cream cheese and sour cream for pound cake batter.

Around the third or fourth egg you might find the mixture starts to look curdled (see below image). Don’t panic, and don’t be tempted to beat the life out of your cake at this point! Just keep adding and mixing until the eggs are incorporated (ie no lumpy bits of yolk or white remain).

 Curdled cake batter.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the bowl and mix gently to combine. If your mixture was curdled, watch it magically come back together at this point. Again, don’t overmix. Just bring it to the point where everything is mixed and no visible flour remains, then take it out of the mixer and give it a few stirs by hand with a spatula. Get right to the bottom of the bowl – mixer blades often miss the batter down there – and stir just until it’s all smooth and uniform in texture.

 Adding flour, baking powder and salt to cake batter.

 Finished pound cake batter ready for the pan.

You should have a thick, creamy, delicious batter by now. Scrape this into your pan and smooth out the top. Because the batter is so thick, sometimes filling the pan means you end up with large air pockets, so rap the pan on your counter a couple of times to bring those to the surface.

 Pound cake batter in a bundt pan, ready to bake.

Time to bake! Bake the cake until it’s puffed and golden all over, and a skewer tests clean in the center. You’ll need to be guided more by how the cake looks and tests than by time. A combi steam pound cake could be cooked in as little as an hour and ten minutes, while a traditionally baked one may take up to an hour forty-five. If the cake’s browning very quickly on top, cover it loosely with aluminium foil about halfway through baking to protect it.

 Baked cream cheese pound cake in a bundt pan.

Finding this post helpful? Would you like more recipes and tips to help you cook with confidence? Join the mailing list to be alerted to new posts.

When the cake is baked, let it cool for a good while in the pan before attempting to turn it out. Anywhere from about an hour to two hours is ideal, so it’s still warm but not blazing hot and fragile. Whatever you do, don’t wait until it’s cold. I speak from firsthand experience here when I say you’ll find it cemented into the pan! Turn the cake directly onto a serving plate and let it cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and serving.

 Whole baked cream cheese pound cake, just turned out of a bundt pan.

Tips for baking pound cake

Make sure to have all your ingredients at room temperature. This makes the cake much easier to mix and incorporates the ingredients together properly.

If you have one, use a stand mixer or a hand held mixer to help with this cake – you won’t get the fluffy creamed texture from the butter and sugar otherwise. I use a KitchenAid for most cakes and all my bread doughs. It was an investment to purchase but it’s been with me 17 years and counting, and it’s still going strong.

Use cake flour, not all-purpose (plain) flour. Having made this several times with regular all-purpose flour before switching to cake flour on the advice of a friend who’s a brilliant baker, I can say it does make a big difference to the texture of the cake. Cake flour has less protein than regular flour, and bakes up into a softer, more pillowy cake.

I highly recommend you bake this cake in a bundt or a ring pan rather than a regular round pan (I use my favorite bundt pan, which I bought in San Francisco years ago and lugged all around the States and Europe in a suitcase before bringing it home). Whenever I’ve baked this sized pound cake in a regular pan, the outside of the cake overcooks before the middle is done. Any 10-cup or 12-cup bundt or ring pan will work for this recipe, but I especially like the Nordic Ware ones because they’re heavy and the outside of the cake bakes very evenly (not sponsored, I just think they’re great pans!). If you need to bake this in another type of pan I’d recommend using two loaf pans (or halve the recipe and use one).

Whether you bake this in a regular oven or combi steam, just remember that a slower, lower bake gives the best results. This is a large and dense cake so baking it at the same moderate temperature as many other cakes will render it overcooked on the outside before it’s done in the center.

I hope all those tips help you create a perfect cream cheese pound cake, and can’t wait to hear about and see your versions! Happy cooking, see you here again soon.

 A whole cream cheese pound cake with slices cut out and one slice resting against the rest of the cake.

 

Print Recipe
No ratings yet

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Cream Cheese Pound Cake is the perfect pound cake – flavorsome, pillowy soft and moist. Baked in a decorative pan, it’s an elegant afternoon tea cake that needs little decoration.     
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 35 mins
Total Time1 hr 55 mins
Course: Afternoon Tea, Dessert, Morning Tea
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bundt cake, cream cheese pound cake, pound cake, steam oven cake recipe
Servings: 12
Calories: 569kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter 3 sticks, softened
  • 2 cups superfine sugar caster sugar
  • 2 lemons finely zested
  • 1 lime finely zested
  • 8 oz cream cheese full-fat, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 6 eggs large, at room temperature
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

Regular Oven Method

  • Grease a 10-cup bundt or ring pan very well and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 325°F/165°C, convection/fan forced setting (if you don’t have a convection setting, use 340°F/170°C).
  • Beat the butter, sugar and zest on medium speed in a stand mixer until it’s smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the cream cheese and beat until completely smooth and combined, then add the sour cream and vanilla, mixing until combined and creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice during the mixing.
  • Mix the eggs in one by one, letting each egg fully mix in before adding the next. The idea is to mix the eggs in without overbeating the mixture. It may appear curdled by the time all the eggs are added, but don’t worry as it will come back together once the flour is added.
  • Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix on low speed until just combined, then stop the mixer and give everything a final stir by hand with a spatula, making sure to get to the bottom of the bowl where the mixer blade may have missed.
  • Scrape the batter evenly into your greased pan and bang the pan on the counter once or twice to bring up any air bubbles. Bake until it tests clean with a skewer, about 1 hour and 35 minutes. If the cake looks like it’s browning too much, you can cover the top with aluminium foil partway through cooking.
  • Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for about an hour in the pan, then turn out onto a serving plate and allow to cool completely. Don’t wait to turn it out until it’s cold, as it’ll stick in the pan (ask me how I know this!).
  • Either dust the cake with powdered sugar or glaze it with a mixture of powdered sugar and lemon or lime juice. For a glaze, you’ll need about 2 cups powdered sugar and enough juice to create a pouring cream consistency.

Combi Steam Oven Method

  • Grease a 10-cup bundt or ring pan very well and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 320°F/160°C, combination steam setting. If your oven has variable steam, select 30% (if you don’t have variable steam, just select combination or convection steam setting at the correct temperature, and the oven will work out the humidity for you).
  • Beat the butter, sugar and zest on medium speed in a stand mixer until it’s smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the cream cheese and beat until completely smooth and combined, then add the sour cream and vanilla, mixing until combined and creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice during the mixing.
  • Mix the eggs in one by one, letting each egg fully mix in before adding the next. The idea is to mix the eggs in without overbeating the mixture. It may appear curdled by the time all the eggs are added, but don’t worry as it will come back together once the flour is added.
  • Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix on low speed until just combined, then stop the mixer and give everything a final stir by hand with a spatula, making sure to get to the bottom of the bowl where the mixer blade may have missed.
  • Scrape the batter evenly into your greased pan and bang the pan on the counter once or twice to bring up any air bubbles. Bake until it tests clean with a skewer, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. If the cake looks like it’s browning too much, you can cover the top with aluminium foil partway through cooking.
  • Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for about an hour in the pan, then turn out onto a serving plate and allow to cool completely. Don’t wait to turn it out until it’s cold, as it’ll stick in the pan (ask me how I know this!).
  • Either dust the cake with powdered sugar or glaze it with a mixture of powdered sugar and lemon or lime juice. For a glaze, you’ll need about 2 cups powdered sugar and enough juice to create a pouring cream consistency.

Notes

  1. You’ll see I’ve called for cake flour in this recipe. Cake flour has less protein than regular flour, which makes it bake up into a softer, more pillowy cake.
  2. Use any combination of citrus zest you like for this cake. I had lemons and limes on hand, but it’s lovely with oranges or mandarins too.
  3. I bake this cake in my favorite Nordic Ware bundt pan, though any bundt or ring pan will work as long as it has at least a 10 cup capacity. Otherwise divide the mixture and bake it in two loaf pans. I wouldn’t recommend baking this in a regular round pan as the outside of the cake will overcook before the middle is done.

Nutrition

Calories: 569kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 169mg | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 157mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 1149IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 1mg

Over to you – if you try this recipe I’d love to know about it! Share your comments below or on Facebook, tag @steamandbake on Instagram, or pin all your favourite Steam and Bake recipes over on Pinterest!

1 thought on “Cream Cheese Pound Cake (regular oven and steam oven methods)”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




Scroll to Top