Vintage Sour Cream Pound Cake Recipe and an Amazing Group of Women Helping Women

Sour Cream Pound Cake overhead in a bread pan Bake This Cake

Presenting a classic pound cake made moist with sour cream and prepared vintage-style in loaf pans — born from a 19th Century women’s movement established to help women in need.

More Sour Cream Pound Cake Recipe by Bake This Cake

You can bake this cake in a big bundt pan for a crowd or follow our lead and bake 2 cakes in loaf pans. That way, you can keep one and freeze one. Besides treating your friends and family to an old-fashioned cake, you can put on a pot of coffee, defrost your frozen “extra” cake and you’ll be ready whenever company comes calling. 🙂

Sour Cream Pound Cake Doggie Taste Tester Bake This Cake

This is not a frosted layer cake. It’s more the kind of sweet buttery cake you order in thick slices with a tall cappuccino in the morning. The type of cake that needs no frosting (unless you drizzle the top with a light lemon glaze). I prefer to serve it straight up with coffee, tea or lemonade! haha! All you need to add is great conversation with a neighbor or your best bud — and you’ve got yourself a Friendship Cake. This cake travels well and also makes a perfect side kick at a Sunday Brunch or any social gathering where cake and coffee are the go-together duo.

Morning Foam Freak Cappuccino Bake This Cake

Let's Exchange Recipes Woman's Exchange Bake This CakeVintage Cookbook Find: The recipe for this pound cake hails from the “Woman’s Exchange: Let’s Exchange Recipes, Volume I”, a simple spiral-bound cook book of shared recipes from the Woman’s Exchange of St. Augustine, Florida (founded in 1892). The Foreward by Lucy Lewis Deerin states that proceeds from this book will be used for the preservation and maintenance of the Dr. Peck House (now known as the Peña-Peck House) that dates back to 1702. This little cookbook also contains recipes contributed by Mr. Norman Baskin of his wife’s (Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of “The Yearling” and “Cross Creek” from her Cross Creek Cookery cookbook).

Women Helping Women to Help Themselves: The Woman’s Exchange Movement began in the early 1800’s as an amazing gathering of volunteer women committed to helping women who had fallen on hard times. This was accomplished with a unique retail service. The woman in need would create an amazing hand crafted item and deliver it to a local “Exchange” shop where the item would be placed for consignment sale. The shelves of these shops were lined with: Intricate embroidery, frocks, petticoats and gorgeous needlework (often called “fancywork”). A small portion of the profits (originally 6%) went to operational expenses, with the remainder going to the contributing artist.

Handmade Vintage Lace Bake  This Cake

Under Cover of Darkness: In the early days of these organizations, women delivered their special crafts to the back doors of the Exchange shops in secrecy under the cloak of darkness. Even payments to contributing women were delivered in underground fashion. Hiding the identity of contributors was considered a key component of the program. Why? Amazingly, this was done to protect the reputation of the participating women at a time when it was considered undignified for a woman to be earning a wage.

Black and Bling Candle  Bake This Cake

Practical Helping and Raising Awareness: The Industrial Revolution was running strong between 1800 and 1880. In 1832, the Philadelphia Ladies’ Depository (the nation’s first Exchange) was founded by wealthy widow, Elizabeth Stott. She and her friends opened a small charity shop to assist women who were trying to break free from the brutal industrial era working environment during the time of the 50-cents-a-day wage and the 14-hour workday. Members of the charity paid dues and acted as shop managers and accountants. Exchanges raised public awareness of the harsh working conditions and exploitation of working women, especially in the needlework trades, and they helped train women for the business world (for example, in retail sales, real estate lease transactions and bookkeeping).

Sewing Room Shoe Factory Syracuse public domain photo

The Exchanges blossomed during the civil war era (during a time when women were in factories stitching war uniforms). By 1891, more than 16,000 women sold merchandise at Exchanges across the country. For additional reading, you may want to check out: “The Business of Charity: The Woman’s Exchange Movement, 1832-1900” by Kathleen Waters Sander (author of “Mary Elizabeth Garrett: Society and Philanthropy in the Gilded Age“).


Many of these historic charitable organizations, such as the Scarsdale Woman’s Exchange and the St. Augustine Woman’s Exchange are still going strong today as part of the Federation of Woman’s Exchange organizations.

Woman Riding a Wolf Building Oranment Downtown LA BakeThisCake

One thing’s for sure…the Woman’s Exchange recipe books still survive in used book stores everywhere. Even a handful of them on your cook book shelf would make a charming addition to your collection. These pamphlets and full-on cookbooks are from all parts of the country spanning decades of women helping women. But their latest cookbooks hot off the presses benefit great causes.

So here’s a salute to the history of the Woman’s Exchange! A truly remarkable group helping for decades to bring women forward.

Amethyst Crystal Karma Bake This Cake

Slow Food Alert! Although this is an easy cake recipe, the cake bakes slowly in a low temperature oven, so plan on: 1) ratcheting up your favorite kick-it tunes while you prep the cake then just kick back and wait for the cake aroma to start filling up the house during the slow-bake time.

Retro Kitchen Clock Bake This Cake

Note About the Pans and Baking Time: We changed the type of pan used in the original recipe to 2 medium bread pans from a classic fluted bundt pan, just for fun. We also lengthened the baking time (beyond 1 hour) and raised the oven temperature up from 250 degrees (thinking that was a typo).

Okay, it’s time to clear the decks in my kitchen and get this cake party started! 😀

My Kitchen Bake This Cake

Collecting Ingredients on the Counter: This cake is practically baked once you have gathered your ingredients. Ever notice how that happens? Like, collect up the ingredients on the counter and then it’s nearly a done deal and you can just fly through it. 😀

So this is what I recommend for you…Have all your baking goodies lined up on the counter and ready to rock! 😀

Ingredients Gathered for Sour Cream Pound Cake Bake This Cake

Recipe Note about Lemons: We wanted to follow the original recipe as closely as possible so we used lemon extract instead of fresh lemons and the flavor was nice (although you can always kick up the lemon flavor a tad with a little scrub of very fine grated lemon peel and a dash of fresh lemon juice).

Fresh Lemon for Sour Cream Pound Cake Bake This Cake

A note about sour cream: Because we want a nice moist cake, it is important to use a nice quality sour cream that is not reduced in fat.

Sour Cream for Sour Cream Pound Cake Bake This Cake

Tools for Sour Cream Pound Cake:
2 small bread pans (approximately 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5″, substitute 9-1/2″ diameter bundt pan or tube pan)
1 Large mixing bowl (for main batter)
1 medium bowl (for pre-mixing dry ingredients)
1 small bowl (for fork-beating eggs)
Electric mixer
Measuring cups and spoons
Baking thermometer is recommended for this recipe but not mandatory

Sour Cream Pound Cake Ingredients:
6 large eggs
1 cup (2 cubes) butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cups superfine sugar
1 cup (1/2 pint) sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon extract (substitute 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice + 1/2 teaspoon fine grated fresh lemon peel)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, fine quality

Let’s Bake Some Vintage Cake!:

Prepare 2 medium-sized bread pans by lining them with foil (for easy removal). This also works well when you’re using old vintage pans (to line over any “historical imperfections”).

Foil Lined Bread Pans for Sour Cream  Pound Cake Recipe Bake This Cake

Spray the foil with cooking spray (or brush a light coating of melted butter on them).

Set out to come to room temperature (perhaps 15 to 20 minutes) :
6 large eggs

Sour Cream Pound Cake Eggs Repurposing Juicer Bake This Cake

Bring to room temperature in the microwave for a few seconds:
1 cup (2 cubes) butter

Room Temperature Butter for Sour Cream Pound Cake Recipe Bake This Cake

Add in and beat on high until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes):
1-1/4 cups superfine sugar

Creamed Butter and Sugar for Pound Cake Recipe Bake this Cake

In a soup-sized bowl, fork beat until well blended:
the room temperature eggs

Beat into the creamed butter-sugar:
the mixed eggs

Eggs Beaten in Creamed Butter Sugar Pound Cake Recipe Bake This Cake

In a medium bowl, whisk until fully blended and set aside:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

We’re using Grandma’s tiny demitasse spoon as a quarter teaspoon… 🙂

Demitasse Spoon  as Quarter Teaspoon BakeThisCake

We used a wide-mouthed jar to whisk the dry ingredients…

Wide Mouthed Jar to Whisk Dry Ingredients Bake This Cake

Mix well with the whisk — since we’re not sifting things together (it’s a lazy thing)…

Wisking Dry Ingredients in a Wide Mouthed Jar Bake This Cake

Beat in on low-speed, increasing to medium speed, until just fully blended:
the prepared dry ingredients

Sour Cream Pound Cake Batter with Dry Ingredients Added Bake This Cake

Add to the batter the star ingredient:
1 cup sour cream

Adding Sour Cream to Sour Cream Pound #Cake #Recipe Bake This Cake

Beat in until fully incorporated:
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, fine quality

Add Vanilla and Lemon Extract to Sour Cream Pound Cake Bake This Cake

Divide the batter between the 2 bread pans (or all into one bundt pan).

The batter will be quite thick…

Sour Cream Pound Cake Batter in the Pan Bake This Cake

Be sure to smooth the batter in the pans…

Smoothing Batter of Sour Cream Pound #Cake #recipe Bake This Cake

The art of smoothing the batter (different strokes for different folks)… 🙂

Sour Cream Pound Cake Batter Smoothed in Bread Pans Bake This Cake

Bake at 325 for 1-1/2 hours to an internal temperature of 210.
Tip: Because these are thick and somewhat dense cakes, it is very important to be certain this cake is fully cooked to prevent any streaks of dough. This is why I recommend a temperature tool — since the outer cake can be quite deceptive on doneness.

Close up of Baked Sour Cream Pound Cake in Bread Pan Bake This Cake

Let the cake cool just a bit before serving warm from the oven or keep them wrapped on the counter up to perhaps 3 days.

If you’re freezing one for company or a later event, let the cake cool thoroughly (perhaps 1 hour) and wrap well (I used double plastic wrap).

Slice of Homemade Sour Cream Pound Cake on an antique Bavarian plate Bake This Cake

And there you have it. Freshly crafted from your kitchen and loaded with history!

Thank you for joining me for a little slice of cake history and our salute to the Woman’s Exchange groups across the country, helping so many thousands of women to a better life.

I hope you’ll join us on Facebook, where we share photos of our old-fashioned cake recipes in the testing stages and receive your tips and recommendations for future vintage cakes.


Leslie Macchiarella Bake This Cake photo by Julie Macchiarella

Sunflower and a Bee photo by Leslie Macchiarella

Community Garden Sunflower

Shaking Hands with Dog Walker photo by Leslie Macchiarella

Downtown Dog Park Dog Walkers

Occupy Your Heart  by Leslie Macchiarella

Dusty Window in Downtown LA

21 thoughts on “Vintage Sour Cream Pound Cake Recipe and an Amazing Group of Women Helping Women

  1. I enjoyed reading your recipe. So many people put in so much unnecessary language that bores me and then I lose faith in their abilities. Reading about the history behind this recipe had me hooked. I look forward to ordering a printed copy of the text.
    Nice job.

    • Thank you, Renee, for your comment about the history behind the Vintage Sour Cream Pound Cake. I’m so happy you enjoyed the history behind the cake recipe. The history research is my favorite part of vintage cake baking. Best, Leslie

  2. Are you sure it is only 1/4 tsp baking soda? In your instructions, you wrote that you used your grandma’s tiny demitasse spoon as a quarter teaspoon, but when I look at the picture, it looks more like 1/2 teaspoon. I did half the recipe, using 1/8 tsp baking soda, in one loaf pan, and the cake was extremely heavy. But the pictures that you have show a delicious cake. I really want to try it again.

    • This recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Yes, the photo shows a tiny little demitasse spoon. I haven’t tried a half recipe so perhaps it doesn’t pan out properly when divided though not sure why. Thanks for your interest in vintage baking.

  3. Made the cakes and it turned out beautifully. I changed the measurements with the sugar and baking soda. I found this recipe similar to my own recipe and it taste very moist and delicious. What I liked more than anything is how tall my cakes came out of the loaf pans with wax paper instead of foil. Thank you for the recipe that included sour cream instead of can milk, made a difference.

    • Hi, Yvonne, Thank you for commenting with the results of your baking of the vintage sour cream pound cake. Yes, I also love the sour cream in this recipe for that extra moist factor. Did you add more sugar and baking soda to the recipe? Do tell. 🙂 Sounds wonderful.

  4. Will be baking with this recipe on 1/27/2015. Gathered all the ingredients just as listed, looking forward to baking tomorrow. Will let you know how it all turns out when we can wait long enough for it to cool!

    • Hi, Brenda, The publisher, Woman’s Exchange of St. Augustine, Florida, was founded in 1892, but I’m not sure of the publication date of this vintage cookbook or the specific date of this shared recipe from one of their members. American brownies likely didn’t enter our cookbooks until about the turn of the century so I’m wondering if you’ll find a brownie recipe with that early date. Good luck on the hunt. Leslie

  5. Hi, there! Enjoyed the backstory. Unfortunately, was not overly-impressed with the cake. Made it for my Dear Mother’s birthday this past March. First, the cake stuck to the bottom of the pan; perhaps I didn’t apply enough cooking spray. In any event, this pound cake was not as sweet as the other pound cakes I have made. It also did not rise as high as I expected. Will be going back to my tried and true pound cake recipe.

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the Woman’s Exchange discussion. This vintage pound cake bakes best in 2 small bread pans lined with foil and sprayed (or buttered). For sweetness, it uses 1-1/4 cups of superfine sugar for a lightly sweet and moist sour cream pound cake. Happy vintage cake baking to you & happy birthday to your mom. 🙂

    • Turned out perfect and we devoured it that night! My family loves this recipe and we’ll be making it often. Keep up the fabulous work –the photo’s are such a terrific bonus to help those of us who don’t bake often! Thank you! Suzanne

  6. That was so fascinating. I learn so much from your blog. Thank you for taking the time to do the research, I really appreciate what you do. I always finish your blog thinking… “I didn’t know that, how interesting.” Great job!

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