Old-Fashioned Pound Cake Recipe {like Martha Washington made!}

You guys, I’m so excited to share this recipe with you today! It’s an Old-Fashioned Pound Cake Recipe from Martha Washington that is nearly 250 years old. It is truly “an oldie, but a goodie”.

For the past 20 years during our March spring break from school, I have taken a group of up to 200+ middle schoolers on a trip to Washington, D.C. Obviously, we aren’t going this year because of COVID. Last year, we had to pull the plug on the trip literally hours before boarding the plane on March 13, when the whole world started shutting down. ☹️

I didn’t know it at the time, but our 2019 trip would be the last time for quite awhile that I’d get to visit one of my very favorite places– George Washington’s Mount Vernon. On that trip, I purchased this fabulous book– Dining with the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Entertaining, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon.

If there ever was a book made for me, this is it. It’s filled with incredible pictures of Mount Vernon itself, including the gardens, which are stunning. It includes typical menus of the Washington family, photos of their antique dinnerware, stories from the many parties they held and people they hosted, and several old recipes from Washington’s time. It’s an absolutely beautiful book.

Since purchasing it, I’ve read each story with avid interest, and swooned over many of the antiques pictured. Now, I intend to cook my way through the book, with the first recipe being Martha’s Old-Fashioned Pound Cake!

Martha Washington’s Old-Fashioned Pound Cake Recipe

This cake is the epitome of “pound” cake. It contains a literal pound of butter and six whole eggs. It definitely is one of those things that you save for a rare treat. And trust me, this cake IS a treat. It’s dense, and rich and buttery. Oh my word. This is truly a cake fit for Washington’s table.

Making Martha’s Old-Fashioned Pound Cake Recipe

Sift the flour and nutmeg together and set aside.

Cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs– SIX of them 😳– one at a time, mixing well after each. Then, slowly add the flour mixture, a little at a time, continuing to blend until combined.

Now the brandy! The Washingtons liked their liquor! 🥃

Smooth the batter evenly into a well-greased Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, checking for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center.

Let it cool in the pan a bit before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. It will be heavy, like a true old-fashioned pound cake should be!

When it was completely cooled, I displayed mine on the Adams & Co. Clear Ribbon cake stand (circa 1881) that I inherited from my mother. My history-loving heart was swooning over this. I mean, how cool–An almost 250 year-old recipe displayed on my 140 year-old cake stand. Am I the only one who loves things like this? ❤️

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But really, the bottom line is how it tastes, right?

It’s dense and rich, with just the right amount of spice from the nutmeg, and a little hint of the brandy flavor coming through.

The book suggests serving it with a “boiled custard” as a topping (that recipe is also included in the book), but we enjoyed it plain. It’s perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. If you wanted to jazz it up, you could serve it with a dollop of whipped cream, some sliced betteries, or even a drizzle of caramel. I don’t think Martha would mind. 😂

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

Niky @ The House on Silverado
This true "pound" cake is rich and dense, and inspired by a recipe from Martha Washington herself!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 slices1-
Calories 428 kcal

Equipment

  • Bundt Pan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp lemon zest freshly grated
  • ¼ cup brandy

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan with vegetable shortening. (I used cooking spray)
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, (or beat by hand in a large bowl), cream the butter until light and fluffy.
    Add the sugar gradually while continuing to beat.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in each one thoroughly before adding the next.
  • Sift the flour with the nutmeg, and gradually add to the butter and sugar, mixing in each addition thoroughly before adding more.
  • Add the lemon zest and brandy, mixing until well-combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Notes

The recipe from Dining with the Washingtons says to bake for 45-50 minutes, but my cake took a bit over an hour. It is a heavy batter and you want to make sure it cooks all the way to the center. I placed a sheet of foil loosely on across top of cake for last 10 minutes to prevent over-browning.
Nutrition facts calculated using verywellfit.com

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 428kcalCarbohydrates: 46.2gProtein: 5.4gFat: 25.2gSaturated Fat: 15.3gSodium: 190mgPotassium: 62mgFiber: 0.8gSugar: 25.3gCalcium: 21mgIron: 2mg
Keyword cake
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Without a doubt, this is a cake worthy of being on the Washington’s table, and now it can be on yours, too. 🥮 🇺🇸

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16 thoughts on “Old-Fashioned Pound Cake Recipe {like Martha Washington made!}

  1. 5 stars
    I would love to visit Mount Vernon, that would be so cool! Your pound cake looks delicious. It’s so nice to have Martha’s recipe, and I enjoyed seeing the photographs as well. I will have to get hold of a copy of the book – Amazon only have used copies, so I’m going to have to go on a quest! Thank you for sharing, and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party. I’m featuring this post at the party this week. Hope to ‘see’ you there!

  2. 5 stars
    I am always very interested in historical recipes and this one looks delicious! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday,526. Have a great week and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  3. Love! Love! Love! Have to admit, the first thing I noticed, was your cake stand. And it has a family history! Be still my soul! The BEST! Cake looks wonderful. We have never been to Mount Vernon and had reservations to be there LAST April. Still on our bucket list. What should we make sure we don’t miss on our first visit?

    1. Oh, I hope you can make it back to Mount Vernon someday. It is truly a magnificent place, so rich in history and beauty. Be sure to leave yourself PLENTY of time– you could definitely spend the majority of a day there if you wanted to see the entire grounds, the house, the Washington gravesite, the slave cemetery, the working farm, the gardens, AND the incredible visitor’s center, which is packed with exhibits, artifacts, and even a 4D movie, which is not to be missed (“snow” falls from the ceiling during Washington’s stay in Valley Forge with his troops!). And, if you have time, make a reservation in the restaurant onsite and have lunch! I never get to stay long enough when I have 200 kids in tow, but hope to go back sans kids someday. I’ve been there at least 20 times and still find more to enjoy.

  4. Hi Niky,

    This recipe sounds great and who doesn’t love pound cake. So nice having this book and I’m with you on the cake plate too.

    A perfect marriage.

    Cindy

  5. Funny thing I purchased this same book while escorting a large group of California FFA kids a few years ago to Louisville and Washington DC. I need to try this recipe. Thank you for sharing and praying our kids get to have these amazing experiences again soon.

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