How To Make Lemon Pound Cake

How To Make Lemon Pound Cake

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Emma Christensen
Mar 23, 2015
(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

A thick slice of lemon pound cake and a cup of strong coffee is one of my favorite things on earth. It's the perfect afternoon snack, and if I had my way, it's what I'd have in front of me every day around 3 p.m.

Today, I'll show you how to make my favorite pound cake. It's soft and tender, but will still cut nicely into those thick slices. Lemon zest and juice guarantee a solid lemony flavor, while the sweet glaze poured over the top just gilds the lily. Whether you're making this for a quiet afternoon treat or to take to a party, I think this lemon pound cake will make you very happy.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)
(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

As far as cakes go, a pound cake like this one is one of the easiest you can make. I prefer to use cake flour — it makes the cake extra tender — but you can use all-purpose flour if that's what you have in the pantry. Either way, definitely sift the flour with the salt, baking soda, and baking powder before mixing it into the batter. Not only does this ensure zero lumps in the cake, but it also helps make sure these ingredients are distributed evenly through the cake.

Buttermilk also helps keep this cake tender, plus its tangy flavor is a nice complement to the lemons. If you're out of buttermilk, you can substitute yogurt or sour cream — just thin it out with milk or water until you have a buttermilk-like consistency.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Since it's far too dangerous to be left alone in the house with too much pound cake, I almost always plan to freeze or gift the second loaf. Pound cake is definitely one food gift that is always welcome and never goes uneaten for long — I've gifted it to new parents, as a house warming present, to friends going through hard times, and for no particular reason at all. Unglazed and well-wrapped, pound cake will also keep in the freezer for up to three months.

How To Make Lemon Pound Cake

Makes 2 loaves

What You Need

Ingredients

For the cake:
3 cups cake flour (See Recipe Note)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup lemon juice
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
Zest from 2 lemons
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Equipment
2 8x4-inch (1-pound) loaf pans, or 1 bundt cake pan
Parchment paper
Cooking spray
Stand mixer or hand mixer
Rubber spatula
Cake tester or toothpicks

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F: Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Line two 8x4-inch loaf pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk together the buttermilk and lemon juice in a measuring cup.
  4. Beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest: Start on low speed and gradually increase to medium-high once the butter and sugar are incorporated. Continue beating until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, and starts to clump together.
  5. Add the eggs and vanilla: Mixing on medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one, and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. After adding all the eggs, add the vanilla. Scrape down the bowl.
  6. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture: Add a fourth of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just barely incorporated. Add a third of the buttermilk mixture, and again, beat until just barely incorporated. Continue alternating between adding the flour and the buttermilk, beating slowly between each addition and ending with the last of the flour.
  7. Scrape down the bowl: Use a rubber spatula to gently scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to incorporate any last bits of flour and any lumps.
  8. Divide between loaf pans: Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pans and smooth the tops.
  9. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes: Rotate the pans once during baking. Bake until the cakes are deep golden on top with a crease down the middle and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan.
  11. Cool completely: Lift the cakes from the pans using the parchment paper and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.
  12. Glaze the loaves: About an hour before serving, whisk together the ingredients for the glaze — it should be thick but pourable. Add a little more liquid or a little more sugar if needed to thin or thicken. Spoon the glaze over the cakes and allow to set.

Recipe Notes

  • Substitute for cake flour: You can make this recipe with all-purpose flour with no volume adjustments. Your cake might have a slightly coarser texture.
  • This entire recipe can also be made in one bundt cake pan.
  • Halving the recipe: You can halve this recipe to make just one loaf, but I suggest using a hand mixer, as a stand mixer can have trouble with smaller amounts.
  • Freezing pound cake: Wrap the cooled, unglazed loaf in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature and glaze before serving.
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