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.

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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

417 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Could I use Meyer lemons for this recipe?

    1. Absolutely!

  2. Christi Wiggins McCollum says:

    Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour? Thank you for your help! Christi McCollum.

    1. Hi Christi, you could certainly try it!

  3. YUM! Thank you! This is the Lemon Pound Cake we have been looking for!

  4. If I want to add blueberries to the batter, should I change any of the other ingredient amounts?

    1. No need! I recommend 1 cup.

  5. Hi Sally,
    Can this cake be baked in a Bundt pan?
    Thanks!

  6. Hi – have made this recipe 3 times and love it- but all 3 times have gotten a giant deep crack down the middle (while still baking, not from cooling too fast). Have never had this happen with other loaf cakes. Any idea what might be causing / how I can try to rectify? Thanks! Love your recipes!

    1. Hi LC! That’s completely normal with quick breads or loaf cakes. It’s the air escaping from the loaf. The eggs *may* have been over-beaten but again– it’s totally normal for loaves to look like that.

    2. Here’s a tip for the crack in the loaf I learned while working in a restaurant where we made a lot of quick breads… take a butter knife, and dip it in oil. Now drag the knife long ways through the center of the batter in the loaf pan just prior to putting it in the oven. You have now created a natural faultline in the loaf so the crack will form along it and you should get a controlled pretty looking break rather than one that is uneven and unattractive. Best of luck!

      1. What a great tip, Susan!

      2. Thank you! Will try that.

  7. How
    Much batter does this recipe make? I only have an 8×4 loaf pan and am wondering if I can get 2 smaller loaves from it. Or could I use cupcake tins? Thanks!

    1. Hi Stephanie! I’m unsure how many cups of batter this recipe yields, but you could try to stretch it between 2 8×4 inch pans. The loaves will be pretty thin. Cupcakes would be squat and dense, but you could try that as well. Bake times vary for each and use a toothpick to test for doneness. Same bake time.

      1. Doris Kochergen says:

        Count the ingredients and give it a rough estimate of how many cups are in the recipe. I figured around 4 cups of dough and enough to fill your 8 inch loaf pan. I always do this to get a general idea as what pan would be best for the amount of dough.

  8. I’ve probably already commented, but there are few dessert recipes that I return to. This is without a doubt the tippy top of my greatest hits list. The texture is incredible, the flavor is rich and bright, and every time I make it I’m asked for the recipe. I don’t really care for pound cake normally; I bust this little cute out every month or two. Thank you for a keeper!!

  9. Sandy Chang says:

    made this yesterday. everyone loved it. thank you!!!

  10. Hi Sally! I made this for the first time. Unfortunately, I can’t taste it because I’m gluten-free. Although, I plan to test this recipe out with gluten-free flour. My kids gave it a thumbs up! But one question, the recipe doesn’t call for Baking Soda? Thanks for sharing your recipes!

    1. I’m so happy they enjoyed it! No, there is no baking soda in this recipe. There is baking powder. If you wish to learn more about each feel free to check out my Baking Basics post Baking Powder vs Baking Soda.

  11. Have you tried this recipe with salted butter? Does it make a noticeable difference?

    1. If using salted butter, reduce the salt to 1/8 teaspoon.

      1. Margaret M Kerr says:

        I had made a chart trying to figure this out based on the amount of sodium per measure in salted table butter vs the same amount of sodium in a straight equal measure of table salt…made me nutz!!

  12. I don’t have any sour cream, Could I substitute with buttermilk? Will the measurement be the same? Thanks!

    1. Buttermilk is a fine substitution if you’re in a pinch.

  13. Lisa R LaBrake says:

    I only have lemon juice ..no lemons…Is there anything else I can do or use? My first time making this. It’s already in the oven. Thought I would ask for next timr. Thank you Stay safe<
    Lisa L

  14. I am not a baker, but my son loves the lemon pound cake served at our neighborhood cafe…so I tried this recipe. It was amazing! Followed your directions precisely…and you were right about the last few minutes of baking – checked at 45 mins and wasn’t done – by 49 – it was perfect! This really was super delicious. Oh, and my other son, 18 years old, who doesn’t like anything with lemon – had two slices! ha! Thank you for sharing. Bright spot in a rainy quarantine weekend 🙂

    1. Yay! I’m so happy it was such a hit, Michelle!

  15. I am stuck at home and out of butter. Any chance you think coconut oil could be substituted?

    1. You can definitely try it. The texture and flavor of the cake will change.

  16. I’m not a baker (nor a cake eater, generally), but found myself craving lemon loaf. I measured everything out, then realized my loaf pan was too small. After consulting The Google, I made this as an 8×8 cake, baked for 28-29 minutes. It still had a great texture and flavor, so I’m sharing in case you find yourself in the same situation. But I’m still ordering a bigger loaf pan.

  17. I want to make this but I do not have regular sour cream at home. I do however have Mexican table cream, which is very similar but quite a but thinner than regular sour cream. I also have vanilla yogurt. Which would you recommend I use?

    1. Hi Chelsea, I recommend using your yogurt as a substitute for the sour cream.

  18. Hey Sally,
    I just realized I ran out of confectioners sugar! Can I use white or brown sugar instead?

    1. Unfortunately you can’t make icing with a granulated sugar. I recommend skipping it if you don’t have confectioners’ sugar.

  19. Baked this recipe and I didn’t put enough lemon zest so it came it out kind of bland. The second time I made it, I was sure to add more than enough zest and it was so delicious! Such a good recipe that I’ve already passed along to a friend. Can’t wait to bake it again! Only wish I could share it with my friends.

    1. Nayab Amjad says:

      I randomly came across your website and tried the chocolate cupcakes! Turned out amazzingg in the first try! Then lemond pound cake and once again amazing! Making these delicacies here in Pakistan and everyone loves them! Thank you for all the hard work you have put into baking these items and sharing these recipes with the world. God bless you. May your life always be as sweet as the recipes you share ✌

  20. Hi! Just want to say that with all the time available from this quarantine, I decided to make this cake for my mother. Now I’m not that great at baking. However, my mother ( a pound cake fanatic) loved this cake and literally QUESTIONED how I made such a perfect cake. So thank you so much for being a little joy into my families life during such a difficult time! We loved this cake!

  21. This cake is amazing! The texture is just perfect- dense but not like a brick, lol! Definitely a new family favorite!

  22. For best taste and texture (and so the pound cake doesn’t taste overly dense), I highly recommend making the batter twice (separately) and combining the batches together.

  23. Mary Margaret says:

    Apologies if you’ve answered this already (I quickly scanned the comments and didn’t see this): in your adjustments for making the recipe in a bundt pan you wrote, “Double this recipe, but use 3/4 cup of sour cream instead of 1/2 cup. ” However, the standard recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of sour cream. Is the standard recipe supposed to be 1/2 cup of sour cream, or is the bundt pan recipe only supposed to be 1/3 cup?

    1. Hi Mary, I’m happy to help clarify. If this recipe is doubled (doubling each ingredient) you would use 1/2 cup of sour cream total. I advise you use 3/4 cup of sour cream.

  24. I have had issues getting cakes and loaf out of the pans. For this recipe should I use parchment sprayed with oil, or should I just use butter? If I cover my pan with a ton of butter will that mess up the texture of the cake? I use stoneware loaf pans

    1. Hi Elizabeth, When making quick breads I usually reach for metal loaf pans for the most consistent results. For stoneware how to best use them depends greatly on how your particular pan was made. If it is not coated then generally your stone pan should be seasoned to become non-stick. You can certainly try to line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. I don’t recommend coating the sides with a lot of butter.

  25. Margaret M Kerr says:

    The recipe is great and I thought I followed it exactly but it had an odd taste…maybe like uncooked flour? I aerated and spooned the flour and leveled it carefully so I didn’t pack it…help!!!!! I want to make the browned butter but am afraid to until I figure out what went wrong. Thank you for posting the amount of salt for when baking with salted butter!!

  26. Stacey (@simplystaceynicole) says:

    Delicious!! Easy to make and makes the house smell wonderful!
    Nothing says spring to me like lemon.
    I prefer it cold since the lemon flavor really comes out to me then (I think that’s just my taste buds though!).

  27. Hello Sally! This recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it! I had a couple questions. Do you know if it will last if I mail it to someone? And do I need to make any changes if I bake it in two 8in × 3 3/4in × 2 1/2in pans?

    1. Hi Courtney, This cake is good at room temperature for 3 days, or refrigerated for up to 5. If you mail it I recommend mailing overnight if possible. Smaller pans would require a shorter bake time but I’m unsure of the exact time needed.

  28. Hi Sally,
    I’m baking this for my mum’s birthday, but I don’t have a loaf pan. Can I use a cake pan instead? will this affect bake time?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Nicole, This batter should fit into one 9 inch round cake pan, but I haven’t tested it so I’m unsure of the bake time needed.

  29. Gabriela Figueroa says:

    Hi,
    I’m going to make this recipe this weekend and had a quick question. Would I be able to make this into a cake using two 8-inch square/circle pans to make it into a two layer cake? Would it be enough or would I need to double the recipe? And could I put rum into the cake or would it be too much with the lemon?

    Sorry for all the questions lol.

    1. Hi Gabriela, Any time you wish to change the size of a pan from a recipe you can refer to my post on Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions to help you figure out how much batter you would need. I haven’t tested this recipe with rum, but you can always add a rum soaking syrup after it’s baked if you don’t want to test it out yourself. Enjoy!

  30. Hi! 1 Cup of sugar seems like a lot… what would happen if I reduced this amount? Afraid if I did 3/4 cup it might ruin it.

    1. Hi Monica, The sugar is for taste but also for texture and moisture in baked goods. You can play around with reducing it but expect the texture to change. This is not an overly sweet cake.

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