Here is yet another version of my “Van Halen” Pound Cake. I consider this to be the best lemon pound cake ever. Flavored with lemon in the form of zest, juice, and just a few drops of lemon oil, it is the triple threat of lemon pound cake recipes.
I also include a video of how to use the creaming method to make this pound cake. If you love lemony cakes, you may also enjoy my lemon corn buttermilk pound cake.
And you can find all my pound cake recipes here.
Watch my best lemon pound cake web story here.
Learning the Basics Allows You To Be Creative
You guys know that I’m all about the basics, right? How ingredients function, how to get them to do what I want them to do, how to mix them properly—all of these Science-y things that most folks find intimidating, I find fascinating.
And once you internalize the Science-y bits, that’s when the magic can really happen.
The Science is that I stick to the same proportions of flour, sugar, eggs, fat and liquid each time I make the cake.
More Science is how I take the time to build a very stable emulsion so I end up with a batter that is light and thick in which all the ingredients are evenly distributed so that when it bakes, it will have a beautiful, even crumb.
What Makes This Recipe So Great
The key to making the best any-kind-of-pound-cake is to layer in the main flavor/s in as many ways as possible. In the case of lemon pound cake, you could absolutely just use some lemon extract and call it a day.
But, if you want to achieve the most lemony, best lemon pound cake in all the land, you’ll have to do a bit more than just that.
This cake has lemon in all its forms:
- lemon zest, and lots of it. This is where all the essential oils live, in the yellow outside skin
- lemon juice, because just using the zest gives you the perfume of lemon but not the sourness. Using juice brings the tartness you expect from a lemon dessert
- lemon extract or lemon oil, but only a touch. I find that using too much of either one can taste artificial, so I use just enough to give the lemon flavor a bit of punch
And last, because we love the tartness of lemon so much, I add an additional tart ingredient. In the video, I used Greek yogurt.
You can also achieve that lovely tang by using buttermilk and, to a lesser extent, sour cream.
Of course, the glaze is a great place to reinforce the flavor of the cake, so the holy trinity of zest, juice, and extract or oil come to play in the glaze, too.
How Watching the Pound Cake Video Can Be Helpful
Oh, about the video. I was making two pound cakes for our neighborhood’s Relay for Life team’s spaghetti dinner fundraiser. I mentioned on Facebook that I was going to make them at the same time since I have two stand mixers, and a couple of fans (cheeky fans) pretty much dared me to make a video set to Dueling Banjos. So I did.
Aside from being a fun video (I think it’s fun anyway), it also shows you step by step how to make any of the pound cakes on my site. Not the exact ingredients of course, but the procedure.
And once you learn the procedure, all you need is a list of ingredients.
If you’ve ever been unhappy with your “scratch made cakes,” I think this video will help you understand how to make a stable batter so you can be more successful. And if you are a Baking Wizard, I hope the video makes you smile. And maybe dance a jig.
How to Make
Here’s what you’ll need to make the best and most lemony lemon pound cake you’ll ever taste.
- unsalted butter: make sure it’s cool butter. You don’t want it soft, just pliable. Keep the temp between 65-68F.
- sugar: regular granulated. It’s the action of creaming the butter together with the crystalline sugar that tears holes in the butter, which in turn allows for an even rise and crumb once the rest of the ingredients are added
- fine sea salt: you can also use table salt. If you sub with kosher salt, you’ll have to use a touch more since kosher salt crystals are larger and don’t pack together as tightly
- lemon zest: use a Microplane to get small, feathery pieces of zest.
- lemon extract: substitute lemon oil if you like. But only use about 3 drops since it’s more concentrated than lemon extract
- eggs: I use large eggs. Take them out of the fridge a good 45 minutes to an hour before baking
- cake flour: you can also use all-purpose flour. Your cake won’t have quite as fine a texture, but the difference is very slight
- baking powder: leavener
- baking soda: the baking soda is here primarily to counteract the acidity from all the lemon components. Make sure your baking soda doesn’t have any lumps in it
- Greek yogurt: full fat or low fat. Don’t sub fat-free
- lemon juice:
- milk: you can also replace the milk and lemon juice with buttermilk.
Like most butter cakes, this one is made using the creaming method.
In short, here are the steps:
- cream together butter, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and extract. Fat carries flavor, so it makes sense to add the salt, zest, and extract at the same time you add the butter
- Whip eggs well then drizzle them into the batter, a little at a time.
- Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Whisk together the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and milk (or buttermilk in place of lemon juice and milk)
- Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients in 5 additions, beginning and ending with dry.
- Scrape batter evenly into your prepared pan.
Q & A
I am not a gluten free baker, but I believe you can substitute any “cup for cup” type gluten-free flour blend and have good results. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes before baking to give all the flours a chance to fully hydrate.
Yes. Substitute a vegan “stick butter” (not in the tub) and make soy buttermilk by adding lemon juice to soy milk and letting it sit until thickened.
Absolutely. It will keep just fine on the counter for 4-5 days, and for longer storage, you can freeze individual slices or the whole cake by wrapping in plastic wrap and then placing wrapped slices in a freezer bag (or wrapping the whole cake in foil after wrapping in plastic wrap). Freeze for up to 3 months, and let the cake thaw at room temperature, still wrapped.
If you have questions about this post or recipe, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you within about 24 hours.
If your question is more urgent, please shoot me an email, and I will respond within 4 hours, unless I’m asleep.
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
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- 19 oz granulated sugar
- 12 oz unsalted butter at cool room temperature
- 1 gently rounded teaspoon fine sea salt
- Zest of 2 lemons, (use a Microplane for best results)
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract or 3 drops of lemon oil
- 5 large eggs, , beaten
- 13 oz cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 oz thick Greek yogurt, (without gums or other additives) or sour cream
- 2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice, , strained
- 2 oz whole milk
- Set your oven rack to one below the center and preheat the oven to 350F.
- Spray a 12-cup Bundt-type pan thoroughly with pan spray, then flour your pan very well. Knock out the excess flour. If you only have a 10-cup Bundt-type pan, you'll have about 1 1/2 cups of batter left over. You can use this to make a 6" cake or maybe 4-5 cupcakes. Go ahead and prepare those pans if necessary. *Set aside.
- Cream together butter, sugar, salt, zest and extract/oil until very light and fluffy. Take your time here; it could take 10 minutes or more. You want your creamed mixture to be very pale in color (this lets you know that you've incorporated a lot of air into the mix) and very thick and fluffy. Scrape down your mixing bowl as necessary.
- While the butter mixture is creaming, whisk together your flour, baking powder and baking soda. If after whisking, the flour seems a bit lumpy, go ahead and sift the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- Whisk together the yogurt/sour cream, lemon juice and whole milk. Set aside.
- Once the butter/sugar mixture is beautifully light, drizzle in the beaten eggs, a bit at a time, over a period of about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
- Alternately add the dry and wet ingredients, beginning and ending with dry, in this manner:
- Add half the dry
- Add half the wet
- Add half of the remaining dry ingredients
- Add the rest of the wet ingredients
- Add the rest of the dry ingredients.
- Mix on low for only about 5 seconds between additions. Scrape the bowl as necessary, making sure to get down to the bottom, but don't worry too much about completely mixing.
- Once all your ingredients are combined, scrape the bowl and fold by hand for a few seconds.
- Put the bowl back on the mixer and mix on high speed for no more than three seconds.
- Scrape the batter into your prepared pan(s).
- Bake for about an hour until the cake is well risen, deeply golden brown and has a crack running around the center of the top of the cake (pound cakes do this. It's okay). A thin knife or a skewer inserted into Said Crack should come out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes (10 minutes if you've made a small extra cake) then turn the cake out.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool. I promise this will not give you a soggy cake, just a very moist and wonderful cake.
- When just barely warm, you can glaze the cake with a mixture of powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, just a pinch of salt.
- Spend as much time as you need to on the creaming of the butter and sugar. This is what ensures a tight yet melting crumb. Make sure the mixture stays cool--under 70F. If it starts to warm up past that, refrigerate everything for 15 minutes and then cream until the mixture is almost white, very light, and fluffy.
- Grease and flour your pan very well, first brushing in a liberal amount of melted Crisco and then adding flour. Tap the pan and angle it all around to be sure to get as full coverage as possible. Bang the excess out into the trashcan. You can also use "pan lube."
- Allow your cake to cool for 20-30 minutes in the pan before turning it out onto a rack.
- For the moistest cake, wrap the cake completely in plastic wrap while still warm. This will keep excess moisture from evaporating out of the cake.
- Glaze is not necessary although it's often appreciated! A simple dusting with powdered sugar could be enough, especially if you're enjoying your lemon pound cake with a cup of tea or coffee.
- The cake will keep, covered at room temperature, for a good 5 days. For longer keeping, freeze the whole cake, or freeze individual slices. Wrap in plastic wrap and then put in freezer bags for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature. Do not refrigerate the cake as refrigeration encourages staling, and we don't want that.
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Nutrition InformationYield 24 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 285Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 74mgSodium 156mgCarbohydrates 37gFiber 1gSugar 23gProtein 3g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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So, there you have it. Learn the science, because that’s when the magic can happen.
Thanks so much for watching and reading. I hope you have a lovely day.