Iced Lemon Pound Cake

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

lemon pound cake loaf

Here’s exactly what you need to make if it’s citrus season: grapefruit Greek yogurt cake. And if grapefruit isn’t how you roll, iced lemon pound cake is a home run.

Do you enjoy pound cake? My favorite is this cream cheese pound cake which has an upgraded flavor, tight/dense crumb, and remains wonderfully buttery and soft. Brown butter pound cake has a similar texture and is flavored with irresistible brown butter. Point being– I love adding flair and flavor to pound cake and lemon is my new favorite upgrade.

  • By the way, if you’ve tried the lemon loaf recipe in my cookbook Sally’s Baking Addiction, you’ll appreciate today’s recipe too. The cookbook variation is 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.

The Exact Texture of This Lemon Pound Cake

Today’s recipe has the same wake-up-your-tastebuds flavor as my cookbook variation, but the texture is completely different. It is:

  • unapologetically moist
  • very dense without tasting heavy
  • super rich and buttery
  • extra smooth with a velvety crumb

lemon pound cake slice

lemon pound cake with icing

Overview: How to Make Lemon Pound Cake

Today’s recipe is a lot like my brown butter pound cake, but I left 1 egg out to make room for lemon juice and sour cream. Here’s a brief overview of the process so you understand how to make it before starting with the full written recipe below.

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together: You need flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Beat butter, then add sugar: Beat room temperature butter until smooth, then beat in granulated sugar until creamed and combined.
  3. Add room temperature eggs 1 at a time: Add the eggs 1 at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. When the eggs are room temperature, the mixer only needs a few turns and won’t over-mix them. Over-mixed batter = overly heavy lemon pound cake.
  4. Beat in remaining wet ingredients: You need sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. If you don’t have sour cream, you can use milk instead. Keep in mind that your pound cake won’t have a super tight crumb that is signature to pound cakes. Instead, the cake will have a lighter and cakier texture.
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  6. Spoon/spread batter into greased loaf pan.
  7. Bake the pound cake. Halfway through baking, loosely tent the cake with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.

Let the pound cake cool in the pan for awhile, then remove from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack or on a serving plate or platter.


Want to Make it in a Bundt Pan?

This recipe, as written, is too small for a bundt pan. If you want a larger lemon pound cake served in a bundt pan, here are 2 options:

  • Double this recipe, but use 3/4 cup (180g) of sour cream. (If you were doubling the recipe, you would use 1/2 cup but make sure you increase to 3/4 cup for added moisture.) The rest of the ingredients are simply doubled. Spoon/spread into a generously greased 10-12 cup bundt pan. (Use butter or nonstick spray to grease.) Follow the baking time and temperature from my cream cheese pound cake.
  • Use my lemon poppy seed bundt cake recipe. Feel free to leave out the poppy seeds. That cake has a lighter texture and isn’t quite as heavy as pound cake.

lemon pound cake batter

lemon pound cake batter in loaf pan

lemon pound cake

Lemon Icing for Lemon Pound Cake

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 sets after a couple hours, producing a sweet and zingy layer you’ll want to save for last. You need heavy cream (or half and half or milk), lemon juice, and confectioners’ sugar.

Print
lemon pound cake slice

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 icing.


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 (heavy cream produces a thick icing as pictured)

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. Once the last egg is completely mixed in, stop the mixer. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract, then beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. The mixture may look curdled as a result of the varying textures combining. This is normal and the batter will come together when you add the dry ingredients in the next step.
  4. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients just until combined. If needed, run a whisk through the batter a few times to rid any large lumps. Avoid over-mixing. Batter is thick.
  5. Spoon/spread the batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, tenting the cake with aluminum foil halfway through baking to prevent the top from over-browning. Pound cakes are dense and take awhile to bake in the oven. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours and don’t be alarmed if yours is taking longer. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out *mostly* clean. A couple moist crumbs are OK.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack. Allow cake to cool in the pan on the wire rack for 1 hour, then carefully remove the slightly warm cake from the pan. Let it continue cooling on a wire rack or on a serving plate/platter. You can add the icing while the cake is still warm or wait for it to cool.
  7. Make the icing: Whisk all of the icing ingredients together and pour over cake. Serve immediately or wait until the cake cools completely, which promises neater slices.
  8. Cover and store leftover cake for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

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. Sour Cream: If you don’t have sour cream, you can use plain yogurt or dairy/nondairy milk instead. If using milk, your pound cake won’t have a super tight crumb that is signature to pound cakes. Instead, the cake will have a lighter and cakier texture.
  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.
  4. Bundt Pan: Want to make this in a bundt pan? See options/instructions in the blog post above.

Keywords: lemon pound cake, lemon cake, pound cake

393 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Donna Lagarde's says:

    If I want to stir on some blueberries do I have to decrease the liquid in the recipe?
    Thanks.

    1. You can add fresh blueberries without changing the other ingredients. If you use frozen do not thaw before adding but you might have to add a few extra minutes to your bake time.

  2. Dear Sally: I loved this recipe!! It’s a super soft cake!! Absolutely enjoyed it, even without the icing as I’m not really into them. I added 2 lemon zest from my very own lemon tree as I really enjoy the lemon scent. As always, your recipes are the best!!

  3. Hey Sally! Do you think I can switch the lemon juice for regular milk to make it a plain vanilla batter? And can I put it into cake pans for making cake layers instead of a pound cake?

    1. For a vanilla layer cake I recommend using this recipe: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/vanilla-cake/

  4. How long should you cook in a bundt pan?

  5. I’m not the best one to ask about egg free baking– I have every little experience. Sorry!

  6. Hi, Sally, Last year I made your mini-vanilla pound cakes for Thanksgiving dessert, and they were a huge hit. This year I wanted to try the your lemon pound cake, and wanted to know if I could use mini Bundt pans for this as well, using the same directions? Thanks!

    1. Yes, you should be able to bake this one as mini bundt cakes also. Enjoy!

  7. The photograph of this pound cake with its loose crumb made me decide to bake it for a friend’s b’day. It baked to a beautiful appetizing color.
    After cooling it felt like a heavy brick, I thought it felt dense and heavy.
    I was afraid I had done something completely wrong. But when I cut into it
    to serve, the cake was loose with a beautiful crumb and it was a delightful, delicious surprise. By the way, I was a professional food photographer with national companies as clients. Your photograph alone sold me on making this lemony beauty. Thanks.

  8. Can I use oil instead of butter?

    1. I don’t recommend it for this recipe.

    2. I used oil since I didn’t have enough butter and still turned out great tasting and moist.

      I also used 1/4 TSP of baking Soda too.

      The recipe is perfect by itself. I had to make some adjustments based on what ingredients I had.

  9. This recipe was amazing! I actually used non-dairy (Earth Balance) butter alternative, and almond milk in place of sour cream (dairy allergy in the family). My extended family (Thanksgiving gathering) couldn’t tell that I had replaced anything. I also doubled the amount of lemon zest in the batter, and I added a little bit of lemon zest to the glaze as well.

    Overall, an easy and very tasty recipe! Thank you!!!

  10. Love this recipe

  11. The actual printed recipe says to use three eggs….you state in the wording that you reduced to one egg….

    I just made it using the 3 eggs and it is a little dry….

    I cooked for 45 minutes.

    Please clarify.

    Bruce wells

    1. Hi Bruce, this recipe calls for 3 eggs. I reduced from 4 eggs in a previous recipe. Sorry for the confusion.

  12. excellent recipe! Didn’t do syrup or glaze because it would be too sweet for me, but simply sprinkled confectionery sugar. PERFECT Thank you!!!!!

  13. Yashodhara.. You can find great egg substitutes for baking at Bigger Bolder Baking.

  14. I love it! I have made the lemon cake with cream cheese and the pound cake, one in the oven! I received well over 200 lemons and have been a baking fool and freezing these cakes for future use. I gave out well over 200 lemons and have plenty more on hand. Learning how to bake and enjoying and utilizing your site. Look forward to many more days with you~!

  15. Hi Sally,
    1. Do you have an alternative for sour cream?
    2. Can this cake serve 13 people?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Agnes, (1) plain yogurt works in a pinch and (2) this pound cake serves 8-10.

  16. I don’t have a loaf pan …. does this recipe make enough batter for a Bundt pan?

  17. Today I made these cake words cannot describe how soft, moist and delicious it was enough big hit sally, but it was not enough everyone wanted more.
    can somebody tell me how to play around with the ingredients to get a bigger cake that can serve 15 people?
    Thanks in advance

  18. Does this need to be refrigerated

    1. Hi Linda, You can cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for up to 5 days.

  19. Kerri Seibert says:

    My daughter and I made this recipe last night. It is delicious and a great way to use up all of my lemons!

  20. Absolutely LOVED this recipe. I’m a huuuuge lemon lover and this hit the spot for me. That icing!!! Super easy to make and everyone else in the house loved it. Thanks Sally! xo

  21. This was an amazing recipe! It was super easy to make and tastes so darn delicious. I used brown sugar instead of granulated sugar and it worked just fine because the recipe is already so good! I also used more zest and actually a little more lemon juice and gosh it was just so so so delicious. Thank you so much for this recipe – this is one of the recipes is both easily enjoyed by all age groups!

  22. Went to make this yesterday and could not find my paddle attachment. My hand mixer was dead – all the ingredients were measured out so I proceeded to cream, blend and mix by hand. I was not a happy baker. The second cake was not as traumatic (to make) as the first. They were both delicious. Will make it again – with a paddle attachment.

  23. I am creating a fabulous multi tier Harry Potter birthday cake for my daughter’s 17th birthday. I am starting with your Best Vanilla cake on the first tier, and I would like to do lemon on the top. Would this be a good recipe to use or would you recommend another recipe. I want it to hold up top but also want it nice and moist.

    Thank you!

    1. It sounds like it’s going to be amazing! For a layer cake I recommend following my recipe for Lemon Layer Cake. If you wish to scale it to a different size my post on Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions should be helpful.

      1. Thank you! I will let you know how it turns out. My daughter chose your strawberry cake for the second tier. It should be fantastic! We will be sure to share pictures and feedback from the girls!

  24. Been looking for a lemon pound cake that uses buttermilk… do you think it would work in place of the sourcream? The buttermilk I have is legit… very thick and creamy.

    1. Hi Melissa! You can definitely try it. The cake may need a little longer in the oven since the batter will be thinner.

  25. Delicious and moist! Out of the 5 most recent recipes I’ve tried,this was the best. I added 1 tsp of vanilla to the icing, but that’s just the way my family likes it.

  26. This was delicious. Will absolutely make it again and again. I did add some pure lemon extract to boost the lemon flavor in both the cake and the icing.

  27. Sally,

    I love this recipe! The flavor is phenomenal and I always get compliments. Despite my following your instructions, I’ve made this cake twice and both times I didn’t get much of a rise. Is that normal for this cake? Thanks for all your wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi Rachel, I’m so glad this recipe is a hit! How is the texture when you eat it? It should be very dense with a rich, smooth velvety crumb but not taste super heavy. If you think it should be rising more the first thing you can do is to check that your baking powder is fresh.

  28. I don’t have sour cream. Can i substitute with anything else? Greek yogurt maybe?

    1. Plain Greek yogurt works, yes.

  29. I can’t believe I don’t have a loaf pan! Can I use 3 6in round pans instead?

    1. Hi Kat! The recipe may yield more batter than you need for those pans. Also, round cakes will likely taste pretty dense as well. You can certainly try it though! Let me know what you test.

  30. Since we are staying home with a lot of family time (social distance and all that) we decided to make the iced lemon pound cake. Yum. It was very moist.

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