If ever there were a cake for lemon lovers, this is it. Lemon zest and lemon juice are added to the batter, which lightly perfume the cake with lemon. Then, while the cake is still warm from the oven, it is doused with lemon syrup to further enhance the lemon flavor. Finally, the cake is drizzled with a tart lemon glaze, which adds a pop of intense lemon flavor to every bite. The cake keeps well for days, and is actually best made a day ahead of time. Many thanks to my longtime reader Karen Tannenbaum for sharing her lemon cake with me and inspiring this recipe.
Begin by spraying a 10-inch bundt pan (12 cup capacity) with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle some flour in the pan and turn to coat evenly.
Over the sink, tap the pan upside-down against the edges of the sink to release any excess flour.
Next, zest and juice your lemons. You’ll need about 4 large lemons for this recipe. Make sure you zest them first, otherwise it will be impossible once they are juiced. The best tool for the job is a rasp grater, like the one you see below, but any fine grater will do. For juicing the lemons, I use this juicer — not essential but definitely makes the job a lot easier.
Once the lemons are done, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest.
With the mixer on low speed, add one quarter of the flour mixture to the batter.
Add one third of the buttermilk mixture.
Then another quarter of the flour mixture, a third of the buttermilk — and so on, until all of the ingredients are incorporated. It’s important to add these ingredients gradually because the butter base of the cake does not absorb a lot of liquid easily. If you rush it, the batter may separate, which will cause your cake to be heavy.
Transfer the thick batter to the prepared bundt pan and smooth with a rubber spatula.
Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 5 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then stir in the lemon juice.
Invert the cake onto a wire rack and slip a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil underneath.
Gradually brush the cake with the syrup, allowing it to soak in as you go. Try not to rush — some of the syrup will drip off but you want the cake to absorb as much as possible.
It will look glossy when you’re done. Leave the cake to cool completely, about one hour, before glazing.
To make the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and melted butter in a small bowl.
Stir until well combined. Add more confectioners’ sugar or lemon juice if necessary to make a thick but pourable glaze.
Once the cake is cool, drizzle the syrup over top, letting it drip down the sides. Enjoy!
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Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake
For the Cake
- 3 cups all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife, plus more for the pan
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 2-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine)
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, packed (note: you'll need 4-5 large lemons for the entire recipe)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Syrup
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Glaze
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, packed
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray and dust with flour.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
- In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice.
- With the mixer on low speed, beat in one-quarter of the flour mixture, then one-third of the buttermilk mixture. Beat in another quarter of the flour, then another third of the milk mixture. Repeat with another quarter of the flour and the remaining milk mixture. Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and give a quick mix to make sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated.
- Spoon the thick batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan for ten minutes on a rack.
- Meanwhile, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
- Invert the warm cake onto a rack. Slip a large piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil under the rack to catch all the drips from the syrup and glaze. Gradually brush the hot syrup over the cake, letting it soak in (a little syrup will drip off, but try not to rush so that most of it is absorbed). Allow the cake to cool completely, about one hour.
- When the cake is cool, slip two large metal spatulas under the cake and carefully transfer to a serving platter. To make the glaze: combine the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and melted butter in a medium bowl, mixing with a fork until smooth. Add more confectioners' sugar or lemon juice as necessary to make a thick but pourable glaze (it should be the consistency of thick honey). Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen (without the glaze) for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving. (Add the glaze after the cake is thawed.)
- Per serving (16 servings)
- Serving size: 1 slice
- Calories: 313
- Fat: 7g
- Saturated fat: 4g
- Carbohydrates: 59g
- Sugar: 40g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 4g
- Sodium: 143mg
- Cholesterol: 51mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.