The original pound cake weighed not one, but four pounds — a pound for each of its ingredients, made of equal parts flour, eggs, butter, and sugar. It’s a simple recipe that dates back to the 1700s, believed to have originated in northern Europe, and eventually becoming a staple of America’s very first cookbook, American Cookery, published in 1795.
Both its ingredients and baking process have been tweaked over the years to produce a lighter, albeit still characteristically dense, buttery dessert. But the four basics usually remain at the center, with bakers often incorporating vanilla or other extracts for an added hint of flavor.
“It has to be dense, there shouldn’t be any holes, and most importantly, it can’t be dry,” says Kristine Stock-DeCarles, fourth-generation owner of Stock’s Bakery, churning out pound cake from its Port Richmond location for over 75 years.
For plenty of people, the moist, hefty cake is a holiday tradition, drawing lines out the doors every Easter (and on Christmas, too) of bakeries across the region. At many locations, it starts with a recipe that’s gone through the hands of multiple generations of bakers, producing cake that becomes beloved by generations of families.
“People always come in and tell us the cakes bring them back to their childhood, and it just warms my soul to hear those memories,” says Herman Weinrich, third-generation owner of Willow Grove’s Weinrich Bakery. “People grew up eating the Easter cake. Then they get their wedding cake here, and then their child’s christening cake. Pound cake serves on the most special days of people’s lives.”
If you’re looking to pick up pound cake to feed your own family this Easter, there are numerous places in the region still taking preorders. Many offer the cake in the shape of eggs, bunnies, or other festive forms. All of the bakeries on this list also have walk-up options, through at least Saturday. A few are open on Easter Sunday, too.
Here’s where to get pound cake in and around Philadelphia:
Price: $28-$36 for bunnies and rabbit heads
Three decades ago, Denise Gause stumbled upon her family’s pound cake recipe, and the rest is history. “She was originally baking out of her home while working in corporate America, using pound cake as an outlet,” says Gause’s niece and baker Keshia Davis. “It grew in popularity, and now there’s just no way our customers would let us get away from that recipe. People love it.”
Davis says its secret is high-quality vanilla extract, as well as cream cheese, added to create an extra smoothness to the texture. Today, the North Philly bakery sells upward of 600 pounds of the cake per day, shaping it into bunnies and rabbit heads every Easter. Year-round, it’s available in bundt, decorated round, and sheet cake forms. And you can get it in marble and lemon flavors, too. “The lemon is one of our best kept secrets,” says Davis.
Preorder by: March 30; first-come, first-serve walk-up orders available through April 3
Price: $12 per egg; loaves and cakes are priced per pound (loaves are usually $12 or $13)
It’s not uncommon for lines to stretch out the door and across one or two blocks during holiday seasons at this Port Richmond hub. Most customers are there for the bakery’s famous pound cake, a staple menu item since the mid-1940s. “My grandfather introduced the pound cake right after he came back from fighting in World War II, and we’re still pretty much using the same recipe today,” says Stock-DeCarles, noting slight changes had to be made after the Food and Drug Administration banned artificial trans fats in 2015.
Stock’s offers pound cake in loaf form and as decorated cakes, and, every Easter, the cake is turned into egg-shaped centerpieces, topped with vanilla or chocolate fudge icing. For the best experience, you’ll need a serrated knife, says Stock-DeCarles. “Pound cake is supposed to be eaten in thin slices. Go ahead, have three or four thin slices, but you don’t want the rugged cut of a butter knife and you don’t want to be biting into a huge chunk,” she says.
Preorder by: call to check preorder availability; first-come, first-serve walk-up orders available through April 3
Price: $13 for small eggs, $19 for large eggs
Every Easter, this third-generation Mayfair bakery makes hundreds of egg-shaped pound cakes, all baked in its decades-old brick oven. They come in two sizes, seven- and nine-inches-long, and are covered with chocolate ganache and vanilla buttercream decorations. You can order by the loaf and as decorated round cakes, too, in flavors like chocolate chip, orange, and marble.
Preorder by: as soon as possible, call for availability; first-come, first-serve walk-up orders available through April 3
Price: $30-$35 for bundt cake
When Poundcake Heaven owner Pamela Thornton opened her first brick and mortar in 2012, she had one mission: “to keep poundcake alive.” Today, Thornton runs three locations, offering pound cake in both classic and creative flavors, like piña colada, 7 Up, and the popular “sour butter cream.” If you’re vegan or gluten-free, she’s got options for you, too. Thornton’s signature is making cakes that don’t shy away from flavor, relying on a variety of extracts as well as fruit juices and zests. Her favorite is the lemon pound cake, topped with lemon buttercream.
Preorder by: April 1 or 2; first-come, first-serve walk-up orders available through April 3 (and possibly April 4, call ahead) at the Yeadon location
📍 3415 Kensington Ave., 📞 267-239-5004
📍 3400 Market St., 📞 610-613-6948
Price: $35 per bundt cake; $4.50 for a large slice
Owner Lisa Cosgrove considers pound cake the most crave-worthy item on the menu at her Center City Bakery, offering it by the slice or full bundt cake. “It’s our signature and my favorite,” says Cosgrove. The cakes incorporate brown sugar and are topped with a brown-butter glaze, creating a butterscotch-like flavor. Slices and other holiday treats will be available all Easter weekend-long.
Preorder by: March 30; first-come, first-serve walk-up orders available through April 4
Price: $6 per small egg, $18 per medium egg, $24 per large egg
Easter season is the busiest time of year at this Montgomery County bakery, selling egg-shaped pound cakes in three sizes: small, cupcake-sized eggs; medium, loaf-sized eggs; and large eggs designed to feed at least 10. They’re all made from vanilla cake, covered with chocolate or vanilla fondant, and decorated with flowers. And the secret to their dense, but not-too-too dense texture, says fourth-generation baker Ian McCrimmon, is cream cheese. “It’s the main ingredient other than sugar — and it’s got to be Philadelphia [Cream Cheese],” he says.
Pound cake loafs are available, too, in flavors like orange and chocolate chip. Come prepared for a line in the days leading up to Easter.
Preorder by: April 1; first-come, first-serve walk-up orders available through April 3
Price: $25 for the eggs, lambs, rabbits (serve 10-12)
Weinrich’s family pound cake recipe dates back more than a century, and every holiday, generations of families return to order it in the shape of lambs, rabbits, and classic Easter eggs. “You can’t buy the molds for these traditional cakes anymore, so we’re very fortunate to have been holding onto them for decades,” says third-generation owner Herman Weinrich.
An average of 300 pounds of pound cake goes out of the Willow Grove bakery’s doors every Easter. Vanilla’s the most popular, but raspberry, marble, lemon, and almond versions are available, too. “You can really order any flavor you want if you call ahead,” says Weinrich.
Preorder by: April 1 or 2; first-come, first-serve walk-up orders available through April 3
Price: $28 per egg; $10 per loaf + $2 for icing; $20 per 7-inch round cake
Ask third-generation owner Al DiBartolo what makes a good pound cake, and he’ll give you a quick, two-word answer: “Uncle Mike.” Since 1969, just after graduating from high school, Mike DiBartolo has been behind the pound cake at this South Jersey staple, using nearly the same recipe he started with 50-plus years ago. On Easter, he turns his buttery batter into 10-inch egg-shaped cakes that are finished with a coating of chocolate ganache or buttercream. There’s always an assortment of pound cake loaves on display, too, and if you call ahead, you can get flavors like marble, raspberry swirl, lemon swirl, almond, and chocolate chip, as well as decorated cakes.
Preorder by: as soon as possible; first-come, first-serve walk-up orders available through April 3 at the Collingswood location and through April 4 at the Haddonfield location
Price: $26.75 per egg
“I’ve been eating pound cake all my life, and I never get tired of it,” says 80-year-old Arline Biemiller, the face of McMillan’s and its second-generation owner. Pound cake has been on the menu since the South Jersey bakery opened in 1939, and every Easter, it’s turned into egg-shaped cakes, covered with pink, yellow, and white fondant and decorated with flowers. Some are dipped in chocolate, too. The one-pound holiday specials are designed to feed eight to 10 people.
Preorder by: April 1; first-come, first-serve walk-up orders available through April 3
Price: $16 per loaf ($17 for chocolate chip flavor)
What started with fresh-baked cookies, this mother-daughter business is headed into its 14th Easter season, now known for its moist and light pound cake, too. “We call our pound cakes famous,” says owner Maria Ritter, with a laugh. Flavors include vanilla, lemon, chocolate chip, and Ritter’s favorite: almond. Each loaf serves eight to 10.
Preorder by: as soon as possible; first-come, first-serve walk-up orders available through April 3