This brown sugar pound cake is perhaps the most aptly titled cake there ever was seeing as it calls for an entire 1-pound box of brown sugar. What results is a deep, rich, sweet, traditional Southern dessert. (And surely you know just how notorious Southerners are for having a sweet tooth?) But then, sweet is a subjective thing. If you’re a Northerner with a little more modest approach to sugar, the cake is quite lovely unfrosted. But if you’re from the South, God bless you and go ahead and make it even sweeter by smothering it in a quick caramel glaze.–Renee Schettler Rossi

A frosted brown sugar pound cake on a white plate on a cloth-covered picnic table.

Brown Sugar Pound Cake

4.25 / 4 votes
This brown sugar pound cake with caramel glaze is dense, rich, and incredibly sweet, as most things Southern tend to be.
David Leite
Servings12 servings
Calories429 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 40 minutes


For the cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk, preferably whole
  • 3 (4-ounce) sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1 (1-pound) box dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs

For the caramel glaze (optional)

  • 1 (4-ounce) stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the cake

  • Heat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans, tapping out any excess flour.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork. In a small bowl, stir the vanilla into the milk.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.
  • Add the brown sugar in 3 additions, mixing well after each addition, and then add the granulated sugar all at once, beating well after each addition. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half the flour and then half the milk, beating at low speed just until the flour or milk disappears into the batter. Add the rest of the flour and then the remaining milk in the same way.
  • Quickly scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes (55 to 60 minutes for loaf pans), or until the cake is nicely browned at the edges, springs back when touched lightly at the center, and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Use a table knife to loosen the cake from the pan and turn it out onto a wire rack or a plate, top side up, to cool completely.

Make the caramel glaze (optional)

  • Combine the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter melts and blends with the brown sugar to make a smooth sauce, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the milk and let the icing mixture come to a gentle boil.
  • Stir well, remove from the heat, and then stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat well with a mixer, whisk, or spoon for 1 or 2 minutes, until the glaze thickens and loses a little of its shine. Use immediately.

Serve the cake

  • If using the glaze, drizzle over the cake. (If the glaze hardens during drizzling, stop and stir in 1 or 2 spoonfuls of evaporated milk to soften it.) Slice and serve.
Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott

Adapted From

Southern Cakes

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Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 429 kcalCarbohydrates: 93 gProtein: 7 gFat: 4 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 82 mgSodium: 105 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 68 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2007 Nancie McDermott. Photo © 2007 Becky Luigart-Stayner. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I served this pound cake to six friends after a light meal. I served it plain, without the caramel glaze. Everyone liked it. The texture was dense and it was sweet without being overwhelmingly so.

Overall, this was very simple to make and used only ingredients that I almost always have on hand. This will probably land in my “in case of emergency” recipe stash.

Two of my friends had seconds and then I brought the leftovers to work the next day to get finished off (not everyone was there but that still meant about five people had a slice).

It’s like a praline in the body of a cake. The buttery and nutty crust that formed on the outside of the cake was almost crunchy, while the texture on the inside was smooth, dense, and moist like a good pound cake should be. If you want to take this cake right over the top, serve it with buttered pecan ice cream while it’s still a little warm. This recipe is an easy and delectable twist on the venerable pound cake.

I made this brown sugar pound cake today. I always have these ingredients on hand, so I appreciated the fact that I did not have to go out and shop for ingredients. The flavor is spot-on—exactly what you would expect from a pound cake that uses a pound of brown sugar. That said, it has a rich, deep almost caramel-like appearance and flavor and isn’t overly sweet. I did not make the optional glaze, which I’m sure would make the cake much sweeter.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I checked out Southern Cakes from The Cincinnati Public Library. It is a wonderful cookbook, and this cake and the glaze are STELLAR!

    Brown Sugar Pound Cake

  2. Hi, Rebecca. Convection ovens and cakes can sometimes get a little tricky. There are numerous articles on the web about conversion times and temperatures. If you have the ability to set your oven on a non-convection setting, you might get better results.

    Extra glaze? Wow, I never seem to have problem–perhaps because I am sampling too much!


  3. 5 stars
    Outstanding. The baking time was much longer than stated, even in my new convection oven, and the glaze makes about twice what you need.