Moist and delicious, this air fryer cake is as tasty as the oven version. When you want to make a smaller cake or not use the oven in the summer, making a cake in the air fryer is a great option! It’s easy and quick. It can be made using the Instant Pot air fryer lid or a traditional air fryer. [Oven instructions provided.]
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I have a thing for pound cake. It’s one of my favorite desserts. My mom frequently made homemade cake while I was growing up and it reminds me of home.
I tried to adapt my sour cream pound cake recipe for the Instant Pot but pressure cooking the cake didn’t produce great results – it was too dense. Through a lot of trial and error, I was finally successful when I created a pressure cooker cupcake recipe.
But when I got my Instant Pot Duo Crisp, I was excited to bake a cake in an air fryer because I wouldn’t have to heat up my kitchen in the summer by using an oven.
The cake baked in the Duo Crisp got rave reviews from the family. The only complaint was that this air fryer mini cake was too small. They wanted more!
And that’s because of the size limitations of the Instant Pot. You can only fit a 7 to 8-inch cake pan in the Instant Pot inner pot. I’m on the lookout for a taller cake pan with the same diameter. If you end up trying it with a larger cake tin, let me know in the comments!
This recipe can be made in a traditional air fryer too. If you’re a fan of homemade cake, then you’re in for a treat if you try this recipe out!
Tips and Substitutions
- Use room temperature unsalted butter. I love Kerry Gold butter but you can use any brand.
- My favorite brand of flour is King Arthur all-purpose flour.
- Spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level off with a straight edge spatula or butter knife. Don’t scoop the flour directly from the container.
- You can change up the flavors in lots of different ways. Substitute vanilla extract with almond or lemon extract, rum or any extract or liqueur of your choice. You can also add in two teaspoons of lemon, lime or orange zest.
- One of my favorite flavorings is cardamom. I add a teaspoon of cardamom powder to the flour to give the cake a delicious twist. I also add cardamom to the glaze as described in my Instant Pot cupcake recipe.
- Some old-fashioned pound cake recipes call for mace. A pinch will do.
- You can substitute the milk with lemon juice, orange juice, liqueur, or coffee. Add a dash of extract to make the flavor even stronger.
- You can omit the glaze and dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar.
- Make sure the cake is completely cool before decorating it.
- I have a 7-inch Fat Daddio push pan which it works in both the 6 quart and 8 quart Instant Pots. An 8-inch Fat Daddio push pan will work in the 8 quart. However, an 8-inch springform cake pan won’t fit in the 8 quart. A 7.5-inch springform pan will fit the 8 quart.
Here are some secrets to the success of pound cake:
- Use room temperature ingredients
- Beat the butter and sugar till light and airy (about 3 minutes) on medium speed, not high speed.
- Sift the flour into the butter mixture using a flour sifter or fine mesh sieve.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically using a silicone spatula.
- Incorporate the flour mixture in two or more batches, beating on low speed until combined. Don’t overmix. Overbeating will cause the structure of the cake to be too dense.
The name comes from the original recipe from the 1700s which called for one pound of sugar, butter, eggs, and flour. Over time the recipe was adjusted for a more manageable size!
Pound cake is a dense but moist cake. It isn’t light and fluffy (hence the name!) But it’s not heavy either.
– Make sure the ingredients are at room temperature.
– Cream the butter and sugar till fluffy and airy.
– Measure the flour by spooning it into the measuring cup.
– Sift the flour before adding it to the batter.
– Don’t overbeat the eggs.
– Don’t over mix the batter.
Once you remove the pound cake from the air fryer, let it cool on a cake rack for 15 minutes before you remove the cake from the pan.
This recipe was made in the Instant Pot Duo Crisp air fryer and a Cosori air fryer. If you’re using another air fryer model, check on the cake around 25 minutes by poking a toothpick in the middle. If it’s getting too dark, lower the temperature. If it’s not set, increase the temperature.
Yes, just make sure you have a cake pan that fits in the 6 quart. The 7 inch Fat Daddio pan fits in the 6 quart inner pot perfectly. I haven’t tried this recipe in a 6 quart so I’m not sure if you’ll need to reduce the baking time by a few minutes due to the smaller size. If you do try it out in a 6 quart, please do comment and let me know if you had to reduce the cooking time.
Overmixing the batter can make the cake too dense. Undermixing can cause the ingredients to not be properly incorporated. A happy medium is to mix until the ingredient you’ve added can’t be seen anymore. Use a low speed to mix the flour.
Use a toothpick to poke the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If it comes out wet or with crumbs sticking to it, let it bake for longer.
Pound cake can sink for many reasons:
– You didn’t bake it for long enough.
– The batter was overmixed.
– The butter and sugar weren’t creamed for long enough.
– There’s too much baking powder.
– There’s too much sour cream.
– The temperature is too high.
– The lid was opened too early and/or for too long.
– The batter sat around for too long before baking.
-You probably overcooked the cake. Next time try reducing the bake time by 3 to 5 minutes. It’s perfectly okay to open the lid and check for doneness with a toothpick even before the bake time is up.
-The pound cake can also be dry if you added too much flour. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup rather than scooping the flour from the flour container.
Cracks are very common in pound cake. The crack allows the cake to expand.
The temperature is probably too high. Lower the temperature and let it cook for 5 to 10 minutes longer.
The temperature may be too low or you may need to increase the baking time.
Pound cake is a dense cake but it’s not supposed to be heavy. It is also moist and crumby. If the cake is too dense, you may not have creamed the butter and sugar enough. Or you may have overmixed the batter while adding the eggs, flour, or sour cream.
No, you don’t need to glaze the cake. It’s delicious even without the glaze but it will be less sweet.
The glaze should be pourable but not too thin. Think of pure maple syrup consistency.
Glass is an insulator and it takes longer to heat up. Once heated up, the cake might cook faster on the outer edges than the inside. Therefore you might need to add more bake time.
– If you use milk in the glaze and the glaze has dried to a hard consistency, it’s safe to store the cake at room temperature.
– You can safely store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for three days (if it lasts that long!)
– If the glaze is not hard, refrigerate it just to be safe.
You can freeze the cake but don’t glaze it before freezing. Apply the glaze to the cake once it has thawed, or even skip the glaze.
If you’re new to the Instant Pot and aren’t familiar with how to use it, you might find it helpful to first read one of the following guides and then come back here to learn how to make this recipe.
- Instant Pot DUO Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot ULTRA Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot DUO EVO PLUS Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot DUO NOVA Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot DUO GOURMET Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot DUO CRISP Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot PRO Beginner’s Manual
- Instant Pot PRO CRISP Beginner’s Manual
Air Fryer Pound Cake – Ingredients
- Sour cream
- Baking powder
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla (optional, not shown)
More details in the recipe card at the bottom of this post
How to Make Cake in the Air Fryer (Step by Step Instructions)
- Stir flour, baking powder and salt; Cream butter and sugar
- Add egg, vanilla, and some flour
- Add sour cream and remaining flour
- Grease cake pan and pour in batter
- Insert cake pan into Instant Pot
- Program the Instant Pot air fryer
- Test with toothpick and cool
- Glaze the cake
Mix flour, baking powder and salt; cream butter and sugar
- Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Use a hand mixer to beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula.
Add egg, vanilla and some flour
- Add egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until incorporated. Don’t overmix.
- Add half the flour to the mixture and beat until just combined.
Add sour cream and remaining flour
- Add the sour cream to the batter and beat until just combined.
- Add the remaining flour and beat until combined.
- Make sure you scrape the sides of the mixing bowl periodically while mixing.
- The batter should be thick and creamy.
Grease cake pan and pour in batter
- Grease and flour a 7-inch cake pan. (Find out how to grease and flour a cake pan.)
- Evenly pour the batter into the cake pan.
- Use a spatula to gently smooth the batter and ensure it’s evenly spread.
Insert cake pan into Instant Pot
- Place a trivet in the inner pot.
- Place the pan on the trivet.
- Close the air fryer lid.
Program the Instant Pot air fryer
- Press the Bake or Air Fry Button.
- Press Temp + or – until the temperature says 350F.
- Press the Time + or – until the time says 00:35.
- Press Start.
- The display will say On, and once it has heated up, it will start counting down from 00:35 to 00:00.
Test with toothpick and cool
- When the time runs down, the Instant Pot will beep and the display will say Off.
- Lift the air fryer lid and place it on the cooling mat.
- Use a toothpick to test if the cake is done. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. If the toothpick has crumbs or is wet, put the lid back on and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes.
- Use oven mitts to remove the cake pan from the inner pot and place on a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Turn the cake out onto a cake rack to cool completely.
Glaze the cake
- Using a whisk, stir powdered sugar, milk and vanilla (if using) to form a smooth thick but pourable glaze the consistency of maple syrup.
- Place the unfrosted cake on a plate.
- Pour the glaze over the cake and top with sprinkles or decorations if desired.
- Allow the glaze to harden before cutting and serving.
Oven Instructions for Pound Cake
To make this recipe in the oven:
- Double the ingredient quantities.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar.
- Add eggs and vanilla and mix.
- Add flour and sour cream alternately, mixing until combined.
- Grease and flour baking pan.
- Pour batter into baking pan.
- Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until done.
- Cool for 15 minutes on a rack.
- Turn cake out onto a cake rack and cool completely.
- Prepare the glaze.
- Pour glaze on the cake and let it harden.
See the recipe card below for detailed instructions.
Air Fryer Pound Cake
Pound Cake Ingredients
Pound Cake Instructions
- In a small bowl, use a whisk to stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Use a handheld or stand mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and airy, for about 3 minutes. Do not use high speed. Periodically scrape the sides of the bowl using a silicone spatula.
- Beat in the egg on medium speed until just combined. Don't overmix.
- Beat in vanilla until just incorporated.
- Use a sieve or flour sifter to sift in half the flour mixture.
- Beat until just combined. Don’t overmix!
- Beat in the sour cream until just combined.
- Add the remaining flour mixture and mix to combine. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl periodically.
- Generously grease and flour a 7-inch cake pan.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Use a spatula to gently even out the batter.
- Place a trivet in inner pot and place the cake pan on the trivet.
- Close the air fryer lid and select Bake (or Air Fry) and set it at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
- Once the time is up, place the air fryer lid on the cooling mat and test the cake for doneness with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out wet or has crumbs on it, bake for another 3 to 5 minutes.
- Transfer the cake from the Instant Pot onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- Turn the cake out onto a cake rack and allow it to cool completely.
- Right before you’re ready to glaze the cake, stir together confectioners sugar, milk and vanilla (if using) in a small bowl, to create a smooth glaze that's the consistency of maple syrup. Add more or less milk to get the right consistency.
- Place the cake on a plate and drizzle the glaze over the top. The glaze will harden at room temperature.
To Make in the Oven, Follow Air Fryer Instructions Except:
- Double all ingredients.
- Use a bundt cake pan or loaf pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake for 55 minutes to one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Prep time does not include steps that are already accounted for in the ingredient list, e.g. room temperature eggs, softened butter, etc.
- If baking the cake in the oven, follow instructions for the air fryer except you’ll double the ingredients, increase the cake pan size, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until done.
- See the blog post for more detailed recipe tips, including some pro tips for success!
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I am not a certified nutritionist. I provide my best estimate of nutritional information merely as a courtesy to my readers. If you depend on nutritional information for dietary or health reasons, I suggest using your favorite online nutrition calculator to confirm the nutritional value of this recipe based on the actual ingredients that you use.
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