Lemon Pound Cake

Ah, the versatility of the lemon. Even when there’s nothing in my pantry except for flour and sugar, the lemon saves the day and gives me something to bake. (Butter is almost always in my fridge, so it’s a non-issue when it comes to me wanting to bake.) So here I am with yet another lemon post for you today. Let’s explore pound cake. Let’s also pretend that I haven’t lapsed in posting. I have a backlog of stuff coming for you loyal readers.

Pound cake is named as such because historically, it was made with a pound of butter, a pound of flour, and a pound of sugar. For real. Sounds like perfection, doesn’t it? Not according to the good folks at Cook’s Illustrated though. They’ve tweaked the original recipe a bit, much to my sensory pleasure. I strayed away from the recipe just a little bit and substituted all-purpose flour for cake flour (by weight). After all, the occasional home baker may not have cake flour on hand. Or, if you’re like me, you’re just too lazy to go digging for the cake flour in the back of the pantry, on the bottom shelf.

This cake is pretty fantastic, but I highly recommend the lemon glaze if you decide to make it. Otherwise, the cake by itself doesn’t have too much of a lemon zing to it.

Lemon Pound Cake | Cook’s Illustrated


16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), plus 1 tablespoon, softened, for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups cake flour (6 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon for dusting pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (8 3/4 ounces)
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice from 2 medium lemons
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze: 1/4 c. lemon juice plus 1/2 c. granulated sugar


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with 1 tablespoon softened butter; dust with 1 tablespoon cake flour, tapping out excess. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. In glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter, covered with plastic wrap, at full power until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. (Alternatively, melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat.) Whisk melted butter thoroughly to reincorporate any separated milk solids.

3. In food processor, process sugar and zest until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Add lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla; process until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine running, add melted butter through feed tube in steady stream (this should take about 20 seconds). Transfer mixture to large bowl. Sift flour mixture over eggs in three steps, whisking gently after each addition until just combined.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake until deep golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.

5. If using lemon glaze, while cake is cooling in pan, bring sugar and lemon juice to boil in small nonreactive saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.

6. After turning cake onto wire rack, poke the cake’s top and sides with a toothpick and brush on Lemon Glaze. Cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour. (Cooled cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.)


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