Lemon Pound Cake

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Flavored with lemon zest and juice, and drizzled with a tart lemon glaze, this lemon pound cake is the ultimate dessert for lemon lovers.

Lemon Pound Cake

This lemon pound cake is the ultimate dessert for lemon lovers. 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, I douse it with lemon syrup to further enhance the lemon flavor. Finally, I drizzle the cake with a tart lemon glaze, which adds a pop of intense lemon flavor to every bite.

The cake can be made in a Bundt pan or two 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pans. Before deciding which pans to use, please see the notes at the bottom of the recipe. The cake keeps well for days on the countertop, and it freezes well, too. Many thanks to my longtime reader Karen Tannenbaum for inspiring the recipe.

What You’ll Need To Make Lemon Pound Cake

ingredients for lemon pound cake

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Start by zesting and juicing your lemons. And be sure you zest the lemons first, otherwise it will be impossible once they are juiced. The best tool for zesting is a rasp grater but any fine grater will do.
zesting lemonsCombine the flour, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. I always add dry ingredients in little piles so I don’t forget what I’ve already added.

dry ingredients in mixing bowlWhisk and set aside.

whisking dry ingredients

In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Set aside.

buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest in bowl

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

creaming butter and sugar

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

beating in the eggs

With the mixer on low speed, gradually alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the batter.

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.

mixed lemon pound cake batter in mixer

Transfer the cake batter to the prepared bundt pan and smooth with a rubber spatula. As you can see in the photo below, to prep the pan, I grease it with vegetable shortening and then dust with sugar. It works beautifully and leaves no floury residue on the outside of the cake.

lemon pound cake batter in prepared Bundt pan

Bake the cake for 65 to 75 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

baked lemon pound cake out of the oven

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.

making lemon glaze

Invert the cake onto a wire rack. (Note: be sure to pop the cake out of the pan after ten minutes, as cooling too long in the pan will cause the cake to stick.) Slip a piece of parchment paper, aluminum foil, or paper towels underneath for easy clean-up.

cake inverted on rack

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.

brushing the syrup on the cake

Leave the cake to cool completely, about one hour, before glazing. To make the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir until well combined. Add more confectioners’ sugar or lemon juice if necessary to make a thick but pourable glaze.

how to make lemon glaze

Once the cake is cool, drizzle the syrup over top, letting it drip down the sides.

glazing the cake

Let the glaze set, then serve.

How To Freeze Lemon Pound Cake

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 a heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw the overnight on the countertop before serving. (Add the syrup before the cake is frozen and add the glaze after the cake is thawed.)

Lemon Pound Cake

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Lemon Pound Cake

Flavored with lemon zest and juice, and drizzled with a tart lemon glaze, this lemon pound cake is the ultimate dessert for lemon lovers.

Servings: One 10-inch Bundt cake, about 16 servings
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes, plus about 1 hour cooling time

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, packed (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2-1/4 cups granulated sugar, plus more for the pan
  • 3 large eggs

For the Syrup

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Set aside.
  4. 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 to 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.
  5. 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 buttermilk mixture. Repeat with another quarter of the flour and the remaining buttermilk 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.
  6. (See note below before completing this step.) Thoroughly grease a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray or vegetable shortening, making sure to get into all the crevices. Coat the greased pan generously with granulated sugar, making sure the entire surface of the pan is evenly coated.
  7. Spoon the thick batter into the prepared Bundt pan and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean.
  8. Set the cake on a cooling rack. Carefully run an offset spatula or table knife around the edges of your pan, between the pan and the cake, to loosen the cake from the pan (don't forget the center tube). Cool the cake in the pan for ten minutes. (Set a timer because if it stays in the pan too long, it may stick.)
  9. 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.
  10. Invert the warm cake onto a rack. Slip a large piece of parchment paper, aluminum foil, or paper towels under the rack for easy clean-up. 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.
  11. When the cake is cool, carefully transfer it to a serving platter. To make the glaze: in a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice. Add more confectioners' sugar or lemon juice as necessary to make a thick but pourable glaze (it should be a little thicker than you'd think, about the consistency of molasses or honey). Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.
  12. Note: You'll need 4 to 5 large lemons for the entire recipe.
  13. Note: As the recipe indicates, I grease the Bundt pan with vegetable shortening and then dust it with sugar. It has always worked beautifully for me, but a number of readers have mentioned problems with the cake sticking. If you’d prefer to use a different method, treat the pan by generously coating it with butter and then dusting it with flour, or use a nonstick baking spray with flour like Pam with Flour or Baker’s Joy. (Also, it's best not to use a Bundt pan with an intricate design for this cake, as they are more prone to sticking.) Another option (that is foolproof) is to use two 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pans instead of a Bundt pan. Loaf pans are much less prone to sticking, and you can line them with parchment paper for extra insurance. To prepare the loaf pans, spray them with nonstick baking spray, line the bottoms with parchment, and then spray them again. The bake time will be 50 to 60 minutes, and you will only need half of the soaking syrup.
  14. 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 a heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving. (Add the syrup before the cake is frozen and add the glaze after the cake is thawed.)

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

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Reviews & Comments

  • What is the best way to halve the recipe? I don’t know how 3 eggs can be split equally…

    • — Sadie on January 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sadie, beat the third egg in a measuring cup, discard half of it, and use the remaining half. Hope that helps and that you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 15, 2021
      • Reply
      • I made the cake before you replied, with the full recipe, but thank goodness anyway!

        • — Sadie on January 15, 2021
        • Reply
  • Stuck to the pan! SOOOOO SAD!! Sprayed it like crazy with Pam I have no idea how it happened but I am in a bad mood now 🙁

    • — LISA on January 13, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa, So sorry you had a problem with this sticking! If you’d like to give it another try, you could use a different method — treat the pan by generously coating it with butter and then dusting it with flour, or use a nonstick baking spray with flour like Pam with Flour or Baker’s Joy. Also, make sure your Bundt pan is still in good shape and has all of its nonstick coating. If not, it may be time for a new one. I really like this one. If you want to give this another try, one other option is to make this in two loaf pans. You can refer to the note and the bottom of the recipe for more details.

      • — Jenn on January 13, 2021
      • Reply
      • I made this yesterday and was so disappointed 😞. I read your comments about sticking so I greased my nonstick bundt pan well with shortening and then sprayed it with Pam. I let it cool 10 minutes, I used a knife to go between the pan and cake and when I took it out huge chunks of cake were stuck in the pan. Also, I expected a nice, dense texture but it’s more fluffy. My husband was disappointed.

        • — Judy on January 16, 2021
        • Reply
  • Loved it

    • — Vickie Mitchell on January 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Im also a classically trained chef and although I have a wide range of my own recipes I browse the internet for new ones. Even though I multiplied this recipe by 4 for my use, which may not fit the average home user, it came out super good! One of the best cakes I’ve ever made to be honest! Well done! Highly recommend!

    • — John Capponi on January 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Could use sour cream instead of buttermilk or that would not give the same result?
    Thank you.

    • — Laleh on January 5, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, but you’ll need to thin it with a bit of milk. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on January 5, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hands down the most delicious cake I’ve ever made! Spectacular!! I was so worried because I was making this cake for the first time for a potluck picnic with some friends (I know, not smart to try a new recipe at such a time :D) but I simply couldn’t resist when I came across it. Needless to say it was an absolute hit and everyone wanted the recipe! I don’t usually stick to a recipe 100% because I either don’t have the exact ingredients or I like to add my own little twist but for this lemon cake I stuck to the ingredients and recipe to the T. I made my own buttermilk and it turned out amazing. I didn’t add the syrup though because I just thought it would be too sweet but the lemon icing on top was magnificent and the sweetness all around was perfect. Thank you so much Jenn for sharing such a wonderful recipe and for such easy to follow instructions!

    • — Diana on January 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn
    I have a 12 cup Bundt pan, will that be ok to use ( since the recipe calls for a 10 cup)?

    Thank you!
    Lisa

    • — Lisa on December 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa, This actually calls for a 10-inch bundt pan (which holds 12 cups) so you’ve got exactly what you need. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 28, 2020
      • Reply
      • Oh Yeah Jenn!!!!
        Thank you ….sometimes it’s a good thing
        not reading correctly! Lol!

        Thank you again!
        Have my muse en place ready to go!

        Lisa

        • — Lisa on December 28, 2020
        • Reply
  • Yikes! I used a regular bundt pan and it wayyyy overflowed, leaving a huge mess in my oven. I’m really confused, I followed the recipe to a T, all of my ingredients set out ahead of time and they were all fresh. Anyone know why this happened to me ???

    • — Mary Foley on December 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, sorry you had a problem with this! It sounds like you bundt pan was too small. Did you use a 10-inch bundt pan?

      • — Jenn on December 28, 2020
      • Reply
  • Moist, delicious pound cake. I followed the recipe exactly and it was super easy to follow and turned out better than expected. My mother loved it and she is a tough critic. Definitely going to make this at every special occasion; family loved it! Tastes even better after freezing.

    • — Jennifer on December 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! This recipe is a keeper for me.

    • — DRobin on December 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Great recipe and delicious cake – followed exactly as written, including how to prepare the pan (with sugar) and had no problems turning it out.

    • — Karena on December 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Do not sprinkle the sugar!! It will crystallize and the cake sticks to the pan. The cake tastes like more like a lemon cake than a pound cake. Not bad but not what I was personally looking for.

    • — Laura on December 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • Spectacular! Made this today and it was wonderful. I made it in 2 loaf pans, thinking I’d freeze one, per the instructions in the recipe. Well, my husband immediately ate most of one loaf, so I think we’ll be finishing off the second loaf for breakfast and I’ll just have to make it again! I will definitely come back to this recipe whenever I’m in the mood for something lemony.

    I think next time I might try the Bon Appetit tip of putting the lemon zest in the sugar and then using my hands to rub the zest into the sugar, thereby releasing more of the zestiness, then creaming the lemony sugar with the butter. We’ll see!

    My 2 loaves were done in about an hour and I did use the butter the pan and then use sugar, rather than flour, to help keep the loaf from sticking, in addition to the parchment at the bottom of the pan. No issues with sticking!

    • — Chrissy on December 15, 2020
    • Reply
  • Just made this cake today, and was just amazed how good it turned out!! Thanks a million for sharing! I will make it again for sure!! Five stars!!🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

    • — Aleksandra on December 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • Today I assembled a double recipe for lemon pound cakes for gifts. Like you, l prefer to assemble all ingredients and then proceed. I was (I thought) ready to fill the prepared pans when I looked up to see 6 eggs staring at me from the counter. Yikes! So, I put them in another bowl and whipped them well, then returned the thick batter to the mixer and added the eggs, mixing until blended. With trepidation, I filled the pans and, unbelievably, the cake is fine. What a forgiving recipe. The taste and texture are perfect. Like many, I reduced sugar by 25% and upped the juice and zest a bit.

    • — karen, distracted home cook on December 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • Excellent pound cake recipe. I did half butter half coconut oil to reduce some of the dairy and it was wonderful! This recipe is light moist and I love the flavor. We skipped the glaze just so we could reduce sugar but did do the syrup which added a nice touch. My favorite lemon pound cake recipe by far!

    Question: you mention being able to reduce the sugar by a quarter. Is that 1/4 cup or 25%? 25% puts the sugar content in the cake at about 1 2/3 cups versus 2 1/4 cups. I only reduced it by a quarter cup just to be safe the first go round. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks again for a fantastic recipe!

    • — Gabrielle on December 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Gabrielle, Glad you liked it. You can get away with reducing the sugar by 25%.

      • — Jenn on December 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this tonight and followed the recipe except reduced the sugar by 1/4. It was delicious and everyone wanted more. I was planning to freeze the other half, but I think we will end up eating all of it. I am planning to make this again for Christmas.

    • — Elaine on December 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • Not a heavy cake. Great lemony taste. Wonderful for holiday serving.

    • — Margarite Carrington on December 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this cake out of the blue back in July to cheer spirits at work. Now I make one every Monday morning with some banana muffins. Keeps the bosses happy.

    • — France Bridges on December 7, 2020
    • Reply
  • Did everything the recipe said. My cake did not cook all the way through with 70 mins cook time, it stuck to the pan and very little lemon taste. Overall not a good experience!

    • — Cameron on December 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is THE BEST lemon pound cake I have ever made. Everyone loves it and requests it anytime there’s a gathering where food will be brought! This is the only recipe you’ll need… Make one today!!!

    • — Natalie R on December 5, 2020
    • Reply
  • This may sound peculiar but being a weights and measures kind of person I need to know: will there be a difference between a cup of flour which has been “spooned and leveled” and a cup of flour which has been weighed (120g KAF)? Thanks

    • — Dawn on December 3, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Dawn, not a weird question. I always use the spoon and level method to measure flour (even when I weigh it) so the conversion to grams is consistent with using that method.

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Jen:

        I have the same question as Dawn. According to King Arthur website, 1 cup of King Arthur AP flour is 120 grams, so I was wondering if I should use 360 grams or 375 grams (per metric setting of your recipe). Thank you very much for the wonderful recipes.

        • — Cecilia on December 11, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Cecilia, I use King Arthur flour for all my baking, but when I weigh it, I consistently get between 125-130g per cup. The 375g is the amount I used for this recipe, so I’d go with that.

          • — Jenn on December 12, 2020
          • Reply
  • Would you make any changes to this recipe if you were doing it in little loaf pans? I have a Wilton mini-loaf pan, where each little loaf comes out at 3.75″ x 2.25″. If you think it will work, I will give it a try. I’m not much of a baker…in fact I bake approximately twice a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas, and an occasional batch of chocolate chip cookies the rest of the year . So any advice would be appreciated.

    • — Meagan on December 1, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Meagan, I do think this will work in mini loaf pans. The only change would be the bake time. I’d start checking them at about 30 minutes. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 2, 2020
      • Reply

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