Perfect Dairy-Free Pound Cake that is Optionally Gluten-Free


Shirley's Perfect Pound Cake - Dairy-free and optionally Gluten-FreeSweet Sundays: Shirley Braden ~ Since I eat gluten free, I love making and enjoying recipes that are naturally gluten free. That’s the backbone of my gluten free easily—gfe—approach. When eating dairy free, I like to do the same. So I cook and bake dairy free easily … dfe, if you will.

When I was growing up, pound cake was a family favorite. Bake a good pound cake and you were loved by all! Seriously. There was no gift I could give my grandmother (my dad’s mom) that she would have preferred over my pound cake. Grandma loved pound cake, and she said mine were the best.

You see … before going gluten free, I made all kinds of pound cakes. There were classic pound cakes, orange pound cakes, lemon pound cakes, cream cheese pound cakes, chocolate pound cakes, and marble pound cakes … to name a few. Some were baked in tube pans. Some were prettiest if cooked in Bundt pans. Some were 8-inches square. Others were baked in loaf pans. Some were served plain. Some required a dusting of powdered sugar. Some needed a thin drizzle of icing. But, one thing they all had in common was how good they were. Everyone in my family and circle of friends had their own personal favorite of my pound cakes …

I had been gluten free for well over 6 years and had not found a really good gluten-free pound cake before I adapted this recipe from the Filippo Berio site (which, incidentally,  was also the source of my gluten-free, dairy-free Mediterranean Chocolate Cake). Coming from a 150-year old olive oil company, olive oil was an obvious choice for the shortening. The other step to making this cake dairy free was equally obvious to me and actually ensured the success of this pound cake—using full-fat coconut milk instead of dairy milk.

The first time I made this pound cake was for my dad’s birthday a few years ago. Good thing the recipe made two loaves …

Shirley's Perfect Pound Cake - Dairy-free and optionally Gluten-Free

My son was home for the weekend and ended up eating almost one entire loaf by himself, and then even more later. He told me I should sell this cake in individual slices for $4 or $5 … “Mom, I’m serious. You could make a fortune.” Before he headed home, he asked me to slice the remaining part of the loaf into individual pieces as a “to-go package" for easy eating while on the road. Then, he offered to deliver the remaining pound cake loaf to Dad when he stopped by to say hello on his way out of town. Do I need to tell you what happened? He ate all of his to-go package before he arrived and then ate some more of Dad’s pound cake when it was offered. In case you need any more endorsement than that, please know that this cake is very easy to make and both delightfully moist and dense. In a word—perfect!
Perfect Pound Cake

  • 2-1/4 cups gluten-free flour*
  • 1-1/2 tsp xanthan gum [may omit if using all-purpose flour for non-gluten-free – see Shirley's note below]
  • 1-1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla extract)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk (another non-dairy milk may be used, but full-fat coconut milk is by far the best choice in this recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine flour, xanthan gum, sea salt, and baking powder in an extra large measuring cup or separate bowl. Set aside.

Pour olive oil into large bowl, and slowly mix in sugar, orange juice, and vanilla extract.

Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition.

Add milk. Mix 2 minutes. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing well.

Pour batter into two greased loaf pans.

Bake for 50 – 55 minutes. (Test for doneness using toothpick method.)

*I can’t tolerate many of the healthier, gluten-free flours; e.g., sorghum, buckwheat. Therefore, my gluten-free flour mix is 3 parts Asian white rice flour and 2 parts cornstarch. I gently mix three one-lb bags of the Asian white rice flour and two one-lb boxes of cornstarch in a very large bowl and then store the mix in several airtight containers (like large glass jars). No refrigeration is needed. But feel free to use whichever flour mix you use most often for baking. If you're not gluten free, you may use all-purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum.

Shirley's Perfect Pound Cake - Dairy-free and optionally Gluten-Free

Shirley’s Notes: I imagine that coconut oil would work fine in this recipe. Pans can be greased with whichever oil you use or sprayed with a non-stick spray. Two loaf pans are what the original recipe calls for and what I used. Don't worry too much over the size of the pans, although you may have to adjust cooking times. The original recipe called for 6 3/4" x 3 1/2" x 2" loaf pans. I used 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 5/8" pans. I don't taste either the coconut milk or orange juice in this recipe; perhaps they balance each other, but all I taste is "good." I just love the crunchy edges of this pound cake recipe. The end pieces are my absolute favorite. Finally, per one reader’s feedback, if baking at a higher altitude, you may need to adjust oven temperature to 375 degrees.
If you are a not a fan of pound cake as a dessert by itself, feel free to top a slice with some fresh fruit (e.g., strawberries for a strawberry shortcake-type dish). Or drizzle with your favorite chocolate or fruit syrup. Another option would be to make an elegant pot of chocolate fondue. It’s easy to cut pound cake into squares, skewer with a toothpick, and dip into thick chocolate fondue. Easy, gluten-free chocolate fondue recipes abound. Here’s one from Kim Maes (Cook IT Allergy Free). (I am definitely craving fondue after looking at the photo!) I even found a chocolate fondue recipe that was free of most allergens right here at Go Dairy Free; you can check it out here.

Whichever way you decide to eat your pound cake—enjoy!


Article, photos, and recipe by Shirley Braden of Gluten Free Easily. Shirley has been gluten free since June 2003, allowing her plenty of time to perfect countless delicious recipes. Her passion is educating folks on gluten issues and showing how eating gluten free can be easy if you focus on “real” foods versus processed and specialty foods, which is why she also leads a celiac/gluten intolerance group in Virginia.

Shirley's Perfect Pound Cake - Dairy-free and optionally Gluten-Free

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


    • Make a flax “egg”! It doesn’t hold things together quite as well as an actual egg, however, lb cake is fairly dense so it may work well. If I’m using flax eggs, I use one more “egg” and is required for extra durability in baking. This requires 3 large eggs so I’d make 4 flax “eggs”.

  1. After making this gluten free and with coconut oil twice with great success, I decided to try making it chocolate. I switched one quarter cup of the flour for one quarter cup cocoa, rum for the orange juice and hazelnut flavoring for the vanilla. My husband and I loved it!

  2. I made this yesterday with all purpose flour. It is SO AMAZING. My friends and I just could not believe it was dairy free. The texture and taste mimics the real thing so perfectly! Thank you!

  3. Pingback: Dairy-Free Pound Cake for My Annual Flag Cake!

    • Hi Shary, you could go with one egg and one egg white or egg yolk. since it is a pound cake, I would err on the side of more eggs, and go with 2 if you want to use whole eggs.

  4. This looks like an interesting recipe, but I can’t use xanthan gum. I’ve used agar-agar as a substitute in other baking recipes before–would it work in this too? Thanks.

    • I’m sorry, but I haven’t tested agar in this way or in this recipe, so I couldn’t confirm. If it has worked well for you with other baked goods, then it might be worth a shot in this one!

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