It’s that time of the year again.
And I’m not referring to all the healthy eating we’ve got on our minds each January. No no no. Rather, it’s time to whip out our citrus zesters because life’s popping up lemons everywhere.
This citrus season, I know exactly what you should make first: grapefruit Greek yogurt cake. And if grapefruit isn’t how you roll than iced lemon pound cake is a home run. I brought a 2nd loaf of this pound cake to our friends on Saturday. It was a dreary winter night for umbrellas and staying warm by the fire, but as we sat around the table sampling cookies and gobbling up this lemon cake, it somehow felt like spring wasn’t so far away. ♥
Spoiler alert: it is.
Basically, this sunshine sweet lemon pound cake is the dessert to serve at a dinner party in the dead of winter.
Last year, I posted brown butter pound cake on my blog. In that post, I chatted about why I love baking pound cake but why it’s not really my top choice dessert to eat. Preparing it is, well, a piece of cake. Easy ingredients, pour into a loaf pan, and bake. The thing is– pound cake can taste sorta boring. That’s why I created a brown butter version. And why we’re looking at a lemon variation today.
Also, I have a lemon loaf recipe in my first cookbook. It’s one of my favorite recipes in the entire book. It’s a lighter-crumbed quick bread– soft and airy like birthday cake, but with big and bright lemon flavor that hits as soon as you take the first bite. Today’s recipe has the same wake-up-your-tastebuds flavor, but the texture is completely different. It’s unapologetically moist, very dense without tasting heavy, super rich, and has a smooth velvety crumb.
Today’s recipe is a lot like the brown butter pound cake, but I cut back 1 egg to make room for lemon juice and a little sour cream. (Went from 4 eggs to 3 eggs.) The sour cream went into test batch #2. The 2nd pound cake rose a little higher than the first and produced an even moister cake crumb, if that was even possible. The stars aligned– it was definitely the winner.
Note: if you don’t have sour cream, you can use milk instead. Keep in mind your pound cake won’t have a super tight crumb signature to pound cakes. The cake will have a lighter texture.
I believe the saying goes… when life hands you lemons, make lemon
ade glaze. The icing on top of the pound cake adds a whole other level of lemon flavor. It’s thick and will set after a couple hours, producing this mouthwatering sweet and zingy layer you’ll want to save for last. You’ll need some heavy cream (or half and half or milk), lemon juice, and confectioners’ sugar.
Serve the lemon pound cake alone or under a mountain of fresh berries (there’s our health food!)– or thaw some frozen berries out this time of year. Top with vanilla ice cream or even a drizzle of raspberry sauce over the icing. It’s all as happy as a summer picnic even if it’s freezing rain outside the window right now.
Spoiler alert: it is.
This iced lemon pound cake is moist and rich, feels like springtime, and tastes incredible under a thick layer of lemon glaze.
- 1 and 1/2 cups (187g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (172g; 1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream, at room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- zest of 1 lemon*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (22ml) lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) heavy cream or milk
- Lower the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
- Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then beat in the sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and the vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients just until combined. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat for 10 seconds to rid any large lumps. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Pound cakes are dense and, therefore, take awhile in the oven. This takes about 48 minutes in my oven. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out *mostly* clean. A couple moist crumbs may remain.
- Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool for 1 hour, then carefully remove from the loaf pan.
- Make the icing: Whisk all of the icing ingredients together and pour over slightly warm cake. Allow cake to cool completely before serving.
- Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the pound cake ahead of time by freezing it. (I suggest icing it right before serving.) Bake it, cool it, then wrap it in aluminum foil and freeze the loaf as a whole. Allow the cake to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before topping with icing and serving. The cake freezes well up to 3 months.
- Special Tools: Zester | KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Farberware Nonstick Loaf Pan | USA Bakeware Loaf Pan | Eat Dessert First Fork
- Lemon Zest: I usually use zest from 1 and 1/2 lemons instead of just 1. I like a lot of lemon flavor and if you do too, zest more than just 1 lemon.
Keywords: lemon pound cake, lemon cake, pound cake