Lemon Pound Cake is made with sour cream, fresh lemon juice, and zest. Topped with a refreshing and sweet lemon glaze. This homemade recipe is better than the Starbucks version. A refreshing balance of tartness and sweetness, this cake is perfect for your summer parties!
Serve this at your backyard parties and barbecues along with our other favorite easy summer recipes like Grilled Pork Chops, Creamy Cucumber Salad, and Italian Chopped Salad. Pair it with some refreshing drinks like this Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade, Mango Lemonade, or Daiquiri.
The Best Lemon Pound Cake
Lemon Pound Cake is an easy recipe starring refreshing citrus. The distinct sweet and sour combination makes it a great dessert. This is perfectly paired with a hot or refreshing drink. Serve it with some ice cream or whipped cream and fresh berries on the side.
Check the feedback from our readers: “This turned out to be super moist and fluffy and oh so delicious! I couldn’t get enough of the lemon glaze!”. This recipe is a keeper and perfect for lemon lovers! Made with lots of fresh lemon juice and zest for an abundant lemon flavor. Adding sour cream to it gives it more moisture and richness, make it even more decadent.
Each bite is tender and refreshing, light and fluffy, and it melts in your mouth with deliciousness. It is like summer on a plate. No wonder, Starbucks has included it in their menu. In this easy recipe, we will share how you can replicate that at home and even make a better version.
What is a pound cake?
It is called such because the traditional recipe is made of a pound each of flour, eggs, sugar, and butter. It is usually baked in a loaf pans or Bundt pan. Dense as it is, the top does not rise much. You can add syrup and glazing on top to make it moister.
- All-purpose flour – I like to sift the flavor, if you are looking for a lighter and fluffier texture, this step is key. If you prefer a richer, denser texture, you can skip this.
- Baking powder
- Baking soda – When paired with the acid from the citrus and the milk, it activates and contributes to rising the cake.
- Unsalted butter – Keep in mind that it is very important for the butter to be at room temperature.
- Granulated sugar – Obviously used to add sweetness, you can control the sweetness based on your preference. However, don’t reduce it drastically, as it will affect the texture of the dessert.
- Eggs – Another ingredient that needs to be at room temperature, and make sure to add them one at a time.
- Zest and juice of two lemons – This is a citrusy dessert so make sure to use plenty! For a brighter yellow color and also a sweeter taste use Meyer Lemons.
- Sour cream and milk – The dairy in this recipe is added to improve the texture. While the dessert can be somehow light and fluffy, it still has a rich and decadent crumb.
- Powdered sugar
- Lemon juice and zest
How to make Lemon Pound Cake from Scratch:
- Prepare the pan: First, start by preheating the oven to 350° F. This is an important step, do NOT place the load in a cold oven. Next, line a 5×9 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, and make sure you go up the sides. This will facilitate remove the cake from the pan by lifting it up. Then, spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside.
- Mix the dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Mix the wet ingredients: In another bowl using an electric mixer (stand or handheld), beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. After that, beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then, beat in the sour cream, lemon zest, and juice. Make sure to NOT over mix and stop a few times to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Combine: With the mixer on low speed, beat in a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Once combined, add in another third of the flour mixture followed by the rest of the milk. Once combined, add in the rest of the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated.
- Bake: Next, transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan bake in the preheated oven for about 55 to 60 minutes until done.
- Cool: Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, and after that lift it and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before adding the lemon glaze.
- Glaze: In a medium bowl mix the glaze ingredients and pour it on top of the dessert. After that, let it stand for a few minutes for the icing to set. Now you can slice and serve it!
- Citrus: While this dessert is made with lemon juice and zest, try another citrus for a change. Similarly, you can use oranges, limes, grapefruit, Meyer lemons, or blood oranges.
- Flavor extracts: While this dessert is great using fresh citrus if you don’t have any on hand use store-bought and combine it with some lemon extract as well. Keep in mind that the extract can have a deeper flavor, so you a teaspoon and see if you need more. Another option is to combine the citrus flavor with a subtle vanilla extract or just a touch of almond extract.
- Add Berries: Keep this a classic lemon dessert or go ahead and stir in some blueberries into it for an even more summery treat. Other berries that work well are blackberries and raspberries. If you want to stir in some chopped strawberries, first make sure to toss them in some cornstarch.
- Mix in other fruits: While you can stir in berries, other fruit like chopped apples or pears would work great as well.
- Chocolate: Mix in some white chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips for contrast in flavors.
- Glaze: The icing is optional, but highly recommended, however, if you are looking to cut calories, skip it. Another option is to skip the citrus and add some vanilla extract to it.
- Buttermilk: The milk can be replaced with buttermilk for an even denser, softer texture.
- Change the pan: Make mini lemon cakes by using mini loaves or use a bundt cake pan for a change.
How to Serve:
This dessert is great on its own with your drink of choice. However, there are many other great ways you can serve it:
- Slice it and serve with some homemade whipped cream on the side and some fresh berries.
- Also, it will be equally delicious topped with a dollop of homemade mascarpone and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
- Again, slice it and serve it with vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet or the side and some fresh berries. Drizzle some strawberry sauce on top to take it to the next level!
- Make a decadent french toast, using leftovers!
- Cut it into cubes and use it in a breakfast casserole or a decadent trifle!
- If you decide to make a trifle, combine it with lemon pudding and mousse!
How to store Lemon Pound Cake:
- Store: Cover the cake with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for up to one week. Alternatively, add it to an airtight container, but I prefer it wrapping since it maintains better the moisture. Unglazed, the dessert will stay good at room temperature for at to 4 days, considering your house is not too hot.
- Freeze: This is a great dessert to freeze for later. Also, you can freeze glazed or without the glaze. Before freezing it, it is very important to let the loaf cool to room temperature. Now, you can freeze the whole loaf or individual slices. Wrap everything in plastic wrap and after that in aluminum foil and add to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. Now, freeze for up to 3 months.
- Defrost: To defrost, transfer it to the fridge and let it sit overnight. The next day, slice and serve.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is pound cake better with milk or water?
A cake made with water will definitely have a lighter, more airy texture. If you replace the water with milk, the recipe will instantly become more decadent, softer, and tender. Also, if you add buttermilk, the texture will become creamier and richer.
How do you know when a pound cake is done?
Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick at the center and if it comes out with little to no crumbs on it, you can take the pan out of the oven.
Also, ensure to check on it after about the 50-minute mark, not to overcook it. Because many ovens are different, it is better to check one extra time than to have a burnt dessert.
What is the best flour to use?
Cake flour is definitely lighter in texture and will make a fluffier pound cake. However, since not many keep it on hand, all-purpose flour works great if you take the time to sift it and also add baking powder and soda.
How to make Starbucks Lemon Pound Cake?
Just follow this recipe! It is a copycat recipe for the Starbucks’ Iced Lemon Loaf.
On their website, you will find the ingredients though most of them are uncommon. It stated there that they use unsalted butter and buttermilk (though we used sour cream, feel free to substitute).
For a more similar taste, add in about half a teaspoon of lemon extract as they don’t use the fresh citrus as we do in this version.
More Lemon Dessert Recipes:
- When buying lemons, assess the weight of each piece. It must feel heavy for its size to ensure that you will get only the juicy ones.
- If your loaf is already brown at around the 45-minute mark and is still undone, cover it with aluminum foil before continuing the baking to prevent further browning.
- It goes well with strawberries. Serve it with strawberry syrup or ice cream for a delightful treat!
- Also to freeze it, better do so without the glaze. Once it is no longer hot, cover it tightly in cellophane, double with an aluminum foil, then, freeze for three months. To prepare, thaw first and then, glaze.
- For more citrusy recipes, check out our list of favorite lemon desserts.
Lemon Pound Cake Recipe
Lemon Pound Cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs (room temperature)
- Zest of 2 lemons
- Juice of two lemons
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a 5-inch by 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, in a way to create handles on the side. To be able to lift the loaf easily once it's done. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together: flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until well combined.
- Then, add sour cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.
Combine Dry and Wet Ingredients:
- With the mixer on low, add one-third of the flour mix and half of the milk. Mix until mostly combined. Add another one-third of the flour and the remaining milk. Finish by adding the last third of the flour and mix just until incorporated. Avoid over mixing.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs on it.
- Remove from oven when ready and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before lifting it up and transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest until no lumps remain and the mixture has a smooth consistency. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but still, maintain a drizzle consistency.
- If needed, add another teaspoon of lemon juice, or more sugar.
- Drizzle glaze over the cooled loaf, let it settle before slicing and serving.