Iced Lemon Pound Cake

Luscious and moist lemon pound cake with sweet lemon icing. Simple and satisfying, this tastes incredible with fresh berries! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Luscious and moist lemon pound cake with sweet lemon icing. Simple and satisfying, this tastes incredible with fresh berries! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Lemons for lemon pound cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Batter for lemon pound cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

 

Batter for lemon pound cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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. 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.

Deliciously moist lemon pound cake recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Luscious and moist lemon pound cake with sweet lemon icing. Simple and satisfying, this tastes incredible with fresh berries! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I believe the saying goes… when life hands you lemons, make lemonade 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.

Luscious and moist lemon pound cake with sweet lemon icing. Simple and satisfying, this tastes incredible with fresh berries! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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Iced Lemon Pound Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8-10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This iced lemon pound cake is moist and rich, feels like springtime, and tastes incredible under a thick layer of lemon glaze.


Ingredients

  • 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

Lemon Icing

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (22ml) lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) heavy cream or milk

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Make the icing: Whisk all of the icing ingredients together and pour over slightly warm cake. Allow cake to cool completely before serving.
  7. Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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

Luscious and moist lemon pound cake with sweet lemon icing. Simple and satisfying, this tastes incredible with fresh berries! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Luscious and moist lemon pound cake with sweet lemon icing. Simple and satisfying, this tastes incredible with fresh berries! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

236 Comments

  1. How different would it make if I substitute sour cream to homemade buttermilk? I can use milk but won’t buttermilk better? And i also dont have a loft pan so I’m planning to use either 8 or 9 inch pan so how long should i bake? 30 min?

  2. So lemony and delicious! Almost melt in the mouth texture, airy and moist at the same time. LOVE it! The only thing I did differently was that I poked holes all over the cake and poured a lemon syrup over the hot cake, let it all soak in and cool completely before slicing into it. Beautiful cake. 10/10 will make again and again!

  3. Hi Sally,
    I just made this and it cracked on top. Any suggestions as to why and wha can I do to prevent that from happening again?

    1. Quick breads are meant to crack on top! It’s the air being released from the bread as it bakes. You didn’t so anything wrong– you did it right!

  4. This cake turned out super moist and bursting with flavour. I love lemon-lime-poppey seed cake so I added 1.5 tbs of poppey seeds and the zest of one lime (in addition to the lemon). I also doubled the recipe and turned it into a sheet cake (NB! Shorter baking time, about 25 min). My co-workers loved it!

    Your recipes are soo incredibly good and easy to follow. This will be my new go-to recpe for lemon cake. Thanks!

  5. So purely hypothetically…if one were to be correctly following directions until they added the sour cream after the lemon juice/zest could they have accidentally curdled the sour cream? I was following along then saw sour cream (room temperature) and was like “dang! I forgot room temp!” So while the sour cream warmed in a water bath I added the lemon stuff and vanilla. When all the wet ingredients were in the bowl it would not combine properly- chunks (butter or sour cream not sure) that would not combine in the mixer! Do you think it was the sour cream or something else? I gave up and threw out batter. Thankfully I did a better job with your easy 20 min honey garlic shrimp for dinner!

    1. Hi Sue– if you notice chunks of butter/sour cream, they will be easily incorporated as you beat in the dry ingredients. Wish you hadn’t tossed the batter because that’s what mine looks like sometimes too!

      1. Thank you Sally!! I tried again and was successful! Turned out fabulous and will now be my go to lemon fix.

  6. Hi Sally.I baked this yesterday and the top half of the cake was perfectly baked. The bottom half is more dense like a fudge brownie (more moist looking). I checked doneness with a toothpick and it came out clean. 
    What i could I have done wrong?

    1. Hi Diana! Was the cake batter thoroughly mixed up? I can’t imagine how that could be possible, I’m so sorry! Are you using a dark metal loaf pan?

  7. Hi Sally, looks like I never told you how much we love this cake over here! Three members of my family have their birthday in March and all requested this cake to be on the coffee table for sure 🙂 And I brought it to several events with friends and family since January, everybody loved this cake! The lemon flavour, the addition of sour cream and this glaze – perfect. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! Sina

  8. Is the lemon juice for icing.. Supossed to be actual lemon juice that you already buy or is it also from fresh lemon like in cake just was curious if it mattered or if 1 was better then other.
    Btw
    I live for this site and your recipes they feed me and my family’s soul …
    Always a hit with your recipes
    Keep up amazing work doll

  9. I don’t recall you saying use a “metal” pan therefore mine has been in the oven for almost an hour and getting burnt.

    1. Hi Lola, 

      Please look at the photo that Sally posted with the batter in it. She is using a metal loaf pan. Also, in her “Shop the Recipe” she lists a metal loaf pan. If you use a glass pan, you need to cook longer as glass takes longer to heat up compared to metal. 

    1. Hi Leija, for a lemon bundt cake– this one is my favorite: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2015/02/19/glazed-lemon-poppy-seed-bundt-cake/
      You can leave out the poppy seeds. The texture/taste is similar to this pound cake.

  10. Hey Sally
    I volunteer at a non-profit coffee house and I do some baking for it, too . I make this recipe and we can’t keep it in the pastry case. It sells out so fast. This recipe turns out perfect every time. Thanks for this great recipe! 

  11. Hi,

    I would like to know the difference between this Iced Lemon Pound Cake recipe and the recipe called “Glazed Lemon Loaf” in your book.

    Thank You

  12. Hi Sally! I don’t have confectioner’s sugar for the icing. Any good subs for this or should i just go ahead and make the run to the store? Thanks for the recipe!

  13. So I have made this a few times now, and absolutely LOVE this recipe! The first time I made it was in the winter, I took one bite and told my son, you ha e to taste this. It tastes like summer! He gave me a weird look, took a bite and then cracked up laughing and agreed. We’ve made it many times after that, and every time it’s a hit. Thank you so much for all that do, you make me look like such a pro!

  14. Hi Sally! I tried this with the oven rack lowered to the third slot from the top, and my edges were burnt, with the middle ending up fairly raw. My pan was glass. I’m not sure what went wrong, but thought maybe I misunderstood the oven rack direction? I’d appreciate any help!

    1. Hi Dany! I would check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. Or you can try lowering the oven temperature by 25 degrees OR covering the cake loosely with aluminum foil as it bakes– this will help encourage even baking.

  15. Hi Sally! This is the first time l’ve tried a pound cake and l am ecstatic at how beautiful it turned out! It’s a taste sensation of moist, lemony goodness! Thank you so much for this recipe. Greetings from Germany. 🙂

  16. I doubled the recipe and baked both pans at the same time (both were metal and the correct size). My cakes came out burnt on the sides and bottom and I ended up having to trim them off. I followed everything else exactly except I forgot to lower the oven rack to the lower third position.

  17. Hi Sally,
    LOVE all your recipes and this one is no exception. I did have a question for you. I do a lot of baking and this is the only recipe I have made where the eggs make the batter split when incorporating. It doesn’t seem to have any affect on the output but I can’t figure out why this is occurring. Last time the first two incorporated fine and the third caused the batter to split. I am very careful about ensuring everything is room temperature.
    Any ideas?

    1. Hi Sally! Thank you so much. It happens often when the ingredients are varying temperatures. The butter may have been warmer (and pretty soft) and the eggs may have been slightly cooler than the butter. As you said, it makes no difference in the outcome of the recipe. As long as all of the cold ingredients are close to room temperature, you’re good!

      1. Sally 
        Sorry its a jumbo cupcake pan i am looking  to use this recipe for.  It take 2 1/2 cups of batter on top and the bottom pan take 3  1/2 cups.   Do you think this recipe will be enough

      2. I don’t think so. I would make the batter twice (rather than doubling) and fill the pan with however much you need.

  18. I have someone that requested this cake so she can keep it in the freezer and defrost/serve when she has company. Do you think it’s ok to freeze with the glaze? I see your note to freeze the loaf and add the glaze later, just hoping I can make his work for her!

    1. Hi Talia! This lemon pound cake can certainly be frozen with the glaze. For the best taste, though, I recommend fresh glaze.

  19. We had this for Mother’s Day dessert and it was fantastic! It is completely gone already and everyone raved how dreamy it was. Will absolutely make this again!

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