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This Homemade Lemon Pound Cake is soft, moist, and bursting with lemon flavor! It’s a copycat Starbucks lemon loaf recipe and it makes two perfect lemon pound cakes lightly soaked in lemon glaze and topped with icing. Each slice has a natural flavor that is sweet, tart, and irresistible!
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Why You’ll Love the BEST Lemon Pound Cake
I’m going to go out on a limb and call this lemon pound cake loaf magical. Pure, delightful magic – it’s the best lemon pound cake recipe for lemon lovers. It’s like a pound cake but not too dense, but it’s baked as a loaf, so it’s easy to slice, serve, and store. Oh, and the lemon flavor – it’s fantastic.
It has a bright lemon flavor thanks to the addition of lemon juice, lemon zest, and a lemon glaze that you pour over the cakes while they’re still warm. It adds that extra punch of lemon flavor that takes these lemon loaf cakes over the top!
Of course, there’s a lemon icing, too. I like to lay it on thick, but you can halve the recipe and drizzle it. Both work!
Some lemon loaf recipes call for sour cream, but not mine. I mix milk with lemon zest and juice – it’s a little like buttermilk (the acid from the lemon thickens the milk) with a similar tangy flavor like sour cream.
I love a slice of this moist lemon loaf cake any time of day – it’s great for breakfast, brunch, snacks, or, if you love lemon desserts, serve slices after dinner. You are going to love this delicious lemon cake.
And why stop at one when you can have not just one delicious lemon cake, but two? Of course, you can always cut the recipe in half if you want, but why would you? Go ahead and freeze the second lemon loaf for later. You’re welcome.
What You Need to Make Lemon Loaf
Milk: Whole milk is best, but nonfat is fine, too.
Lemon Zest: Just the yellow part of the skin. Learn how to zest a lemon. Don’t skip this part!
Fresh lemon juice: You will need some for the cakes, the syrup, and the icing. You can use bottled, but you need the lemon zest so you may as well use the whole lemon.
Vanilla extract: I love adding it for flavor.
All-purpose flour: I prefer using AP flour whenever I can because it’s so accessible. Be sure to measure it correctly and never pack it.
Salt: Since we start with unsalted butter, we need some salt!
Baking Powder and Baking Soda: The combination makes a nice rise and a fluffy moist cake.
Butter: Use softened room temperature unsalted butter!
Granulated sugar: You will need this for the cakes and the syrup.
Large eggs: I always use large eggs. Room temperature eggs is recommended but not required.
Powdered Sugar: For the icing
Heavy whipping cream: For the icing. You can use milk but I like the thick glaze that comes with using heavy cream.
How to Make Lemon Pound Cake
- Combine the milk with lemon zest and lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.
- Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix between each addition.
- Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix at low speed with the hand mixer. Add one-third of the milk mixture and mix. Repeat this alternating between the flour mixture and the wet ingredients, ending with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined – don’t overmix the batter.
- Pour batter between the prepared loaf pans and smooth into an even layer. Bake the cakes for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- While the lemon loaves bake, make the glaze. Combine granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small pan. Warm them over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and set it aside until the cakes are done.
- When the loaves are done baking, take them out of the oven and cool them in the pans for 15 minutes. Turn them out onto a wire rack and then brush the glaze over the top and sides of each. Cool the lemon cakes for at least two hours.
- In a small bowl, whisk the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Place a baking sheet under the rack that the loaves are sitting on to catch drips. Pour the icing over the top of the cake and let it run down the sides. Allow the icing to set for 30 minutes before slicing the lemon loaves.
What’s the Secret to Moist Pound Cake
For this copycat recipe, there are two secrets! First, don’t overbake the lemon loaf. It’s done when a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs sticking to it.
The second secret is the lemon glaze for pound cake. It’s basically a lemon simple syrup that adds tons of moisture when you pour it over the cake. The glaze soaks into the cake, keeping it extra moist!
What is the best pan for Lemon Pound Cake
I recommend using an 8×4-inch loaf pan for these loaf cakes. They’ll be flat and perfect.
Don’t have that size loaf pan? You can use a 9×5-inch pan but the loaves will be shorter. You can also make mini loaves, but this will make 6 mini loaves.
You can also bake this in one 10 or 12-inch bundt pan. Note that as of this writing I haven’t tested it this way but I have tested other cakes and it’s worked just fine. Bake time will be over an hour.
Check out my post about pan size recommendations!
How to Store Pound Cake
Once the loaves are completely cooled, and the icing is set, wrap them in plastic wrap. You can keep them at room temperature for several days, or you can store them in a freezer container in the freezer to thaw and serve later.
- Use room temperature ingredients! Room temperature ingredients are easier to mix, which means you’re less likely to overmix the batter.
- Want a super lemon pound cake? Add one teaspoon of lemon extract when you make the batter.
- To check the cake for doneness: test the loaves with a toothpick and it should come out with just a few crumbs sticking to it. If there is wet batter on it, the cakes need more time. If it comes out totally clean, the pound cakes are overbaked.
- Turn the loaves out onto a wired rack before you add the glaze. It’s easier to get them out of the pans.
- Don’t skip the glaze – it keeps the pound cakes moist.
- You can adjust the icing thickness by adding more lemon juice to make it thinner or more powdered sugar to thicken it. Also, it’ll be thinner if you use milk or something with a lower fat content than heavy whipping cream.
- Wait to ice the lemon pound cakes until they are completely cooled. When they are warm, the icing will get absorbed if you add it.
Yes, but since you need lemon zest, you might use the fresh juice. I don’t recommend omitting the zest.
Yes, you can use one large 10 to 12 cup fluted bundt pan and bake the cake for 55 to 65 minutes.
I haven’t tested the recipe with gluten free flour, but Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour works well. If you try it, please let me know!
Yes, you can cut the recipe in half and make one lemon pound cake.
Yes, this lemon loaf recipe will make six mini loaves. If you make them, the baking time will be less.
You can freeze the loaves with or without the icing. Wrap the cooled lemon loaf cakes in plastic wrap and keep them in an airtight container in the freezer.
The syrup keeps the cakes nice and moist, but you can omit it. If you want to skip one of them, I would omit the icing but keep the lemon syrup. You can also halve the icing and just do a drizzle.
If you are looking for new lemon recipes to try, you have to try this one! This easy lemon pound cake is the absolute best – I know you will love it!
My Favorite Starbucks Copycat Recipes
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Lemon Pound Cake
For the pound cake:
- ¾ cup (177ml) milk (whole is best, but nonfat is fine)
- Zest of 1 medium lemons (5g)
- ⅓ cup (79ml) fresh lemon juice (about 1 large or 2 small lemons)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups (372g) all-purpose flour plus more for pan
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter softened, plus more for pan
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs
For the glaze
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (59ml) lemon juice
For the drizzle:
- 1 cup (113g) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoons (15ml) lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons (30-45ml) heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8×4.5-inch loaf pans.
- In a liquid measuring cup, combine milk with lemon zest and juice.
- Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
- With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture (with the mixer on low) in three parts alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat just until it comes together. Do not overmix!
- Divide batter evenly between pans; smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 50-60 minutes.
- While the cakes are baking, make the glaze by heating granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small pan over low heat. Bring to a simmer and stir. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let sit until cakes are done.
- Once done, cool cakes 15 minutes in pan. Turn out cakes onto a rack. Use a pastry brush to spread the glaze evenly over the tops and sides of both cakes. Let dry and completely cool, at least 2 hours.
- Make the drizzle by mixing all ingredients with a whisk. Set rack with cakes over a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Pour drizzle over cooled cakes, letting it run down the sides; let dry, about 30 minutes.
This copycat Starbucks lemon loaf recipe is just as good as the original!
Last Updated on March 6, 2022
Thanks for all your awesome recipes.
When does the vanilla go in?
Beat it in after the eggs, before the flour goes in.
lemon never tired of it. Thanks I so enjoy your page!
Thanks for the recipes
The texture looks good, and the taste so delicious.
Thanks dorothy kern 🙂