Lemon Pound Cake for the Moms

This past weekend my husband and I got our moms together for dinner in our new place. As the two of them get along famously, we knew it would be a lively evening. But because my cooking skills are still in development (read: not great) I turned most of my attention to dessert. What to concoct for our sweet mothers on a cool evening in February?

Dinner would be Braciola (an Italian flank steak roulade in marinara sauce) with pasta, so I wanted dessert to be something light but also full of flavor. What would brighten the end of the meal and lift the palate? Lemon cake, of course.

Pulling out my trusty "American Classics" by the editors of Cook's Illustrated, I found the perfect lemon pound cake, bought some raspberries and heavy whipping cream and got started zesting lemons.
The recipe smartly calls for blending the sugar with the zest before doing anything else, ensuring a fragrant batter. Once you've got that done and the wet ingredients whisked in, the flour gets added a little at a time - in maybe 3 or 4 batches. This eliminates lumps and makes for a light, fluffy cake.
I always make sure to generously butter and lightly flour the pan.
And, I may be a wee bit meticulous about evenly distributing batter because, you know, perfect-looking cakes taste better, right?
Umm, so, I was so excited about putting it all together that I may have forgotten to take a photo of the final cake (oops!).

Once the cake was out of the oven, I poked tiny holes in the top and poured a glaze of sugar and lemon juice that had been marinating for the hour the cake was baking. Making holes causes the glaze to seep down into the soft cake, adding a burst of lemony flavor in every bite. The glaze is my favorite part and I could eat it by the spoonful (I have a high sugar tolerance, though). You can even add a couple of tablespoonsful of the glaze to sparkling water for a very special lemonade treat.

Back to the cake! Now, it was time to rinse berries and make whipped cream. I reeeeally recommend whipping your own cream as the flavor and texture really are so decadent and make all the difference. This time, I added about a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste to about a pint of fresh heavy cream.
Because vanilla bean paste has sweetener in it, the cream needed no additional sweetening. I mean, I like sweet, but you want to be able to experience the range of flavors.

Adding fresh berries to little slices of cake and wholloping the whole thing with a heap of real whipped cream made for a delicious finish. Now, I know these are my moms, but they did claim to love it and everyone gobbled it up in no time, despite a fairly heavy dinner.
This is the kind of cake you can serve at tea time, bring to a new neighbor, freeze, eat for breakfast - really, it's so versatile. If you like lemon, you'll love this.

And, now, for the recipe!

Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Sugar Glaze
based on American Classics by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, cooled and whisked to keep solids from separating
1-1/2 C flour, sifted
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1-1/4 C sugar
2 T lemon zest
3 t lemon juice
4 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
Sugar Glaze (below)

Butter and flour a loaf pan. I like to use  4.5"x12" but a 9"x5" will totally work. Heat oven to 325.

Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Blend the sugar and the zest in a blender or food processor about 5-6 pulses. Then, add eggs (I always break eggs into a measuring cup to make sure to catch any shells before adding to a batter), vanilla and lemon juice and pulse 7-10 times, until incorporated. Turn your blender/processor on and slowly drizzle the melted butter in over about 10-15 seconds.

Transfer the wet mixture to a large bowl and gently whisk in 1/3 the dry mixture. Repeat until all of the dry mixture is incorporated, but don't overmix.

Bake 50 minutes, until the top of the cake is set, although it may still be glossy and look slightly underdone. Let it cool about 15 minutes and then add the glaze.

Lemon Sugar Glaze
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 C sugar

Mix lemon juice into sugar and whisk. Then, repeat about every 15 minutes for about an hour. The sugar will naturally mostly dissolve, leaving a few soft sprinkles of sugar crunch that make a nice, soft crust atop your cake.

To Glaze:
Keep your cake in its pan and poke lots of holes in it - gently! I use a fork with long tines, but you can use toothpicks or kabob sticks. Slowly pour the glaze over the warm cake. I usually take 3-4 passes at this, letting part of the glaze settle in each time and then pouring a little more over.

Let the cake sit at least 30 minutes and then pop it out of the pan. Slice with a sharp knife if you're serving it fresh or, if you have time, refrigerate the cake to solidify the crumb.

As I recommend above, drop a few berries (enough so that each bite of cake can be accompanied by a berry and some cream) on a slice of cake and then douse it in whipped cream and you're good to go.

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  1. This looks like one winner of a dessert!
    Thanks for sharing! I'm trying it soon!!!

    1. Thanks, Amy! Let me know how yours turns out. Can't wait!

  2. Just asked Keegs to make this for us! Can't wait!

    1. Yes! Get that stand mixer working! And Keegs too! xox


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