You can stop your search – you’ve just found the BEST Glazed Lemon Loaf Cake recipe. The lemon pound cake is super easy and foolproof to make, then gets drizzled with an easy lemon syrup and glazed with the best lemon glaze.
Loaf cakes and pound cakes are 99% of what my childhood dessert memories are made of. (The other 1% is mainly filled with Strawberry Cake Rolls, which isn’t too bad either.)
Marble pound cake. Chocolate pound cake. Carrot loaf cake (no not kidding, though I’ve switched to making Carrot Sheet Cakes now that I’m the mom in charge). My favorite thing about these simple cakes is how easy they are to make – basically foolproof (my recipe has been tested by 100s of teens at our local school!), endlessly customizable and pretty much always appropriate.
My mom made this exact lemon loaf cake recipe every time my sister requested it, which was probably once a month. The pound cake is nicely lemony, brushed with a tangy drizzle and topped off with a sweet lemon glaze. Perfect for spring, Easter or whenever your pound cake cravings hit!
Ingredients you’ll need
Here is a visual overview of the ingredients in the recipe. Scroll down to the recipe at the bottom for quantities.
- Lemons: I highly recommend fresh lemons to juice and zest here. They will give you the best flavor by a long shot. If you only have bottled lemon juice and store-bought zest, I recommend adding 1-2 teaspoons of lemon extract to the cake batter.
- Icing sugar: If your icing sugar is very clumpy, please sift it once or twice before using it. It is incredibly hard to dissolve icing sugar clumps and your glaze would not come out smooth.
- Sour cream: You can use a thick, natural Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.
- Butter: Make sure your butter is softened, it’s difficult to cream the cake batter otherwise. If you have to use stick margarine, use one that’s specifically intended for baking, NOT a spread.
Please note: I updated and changed the recipe since I originally posted it. If you’ve made the old recipe and prefer to use that one, download it here.
How to make Lemon Loaf Cake from scratch
1. Start by creaming the wet ingredients together:
- Beat the butter until very creamy
- Add the eggs and sugar and beat until light in color and fluffy in texture
- Add sour cream, lemon juice and lemon zest; beat until combined
2. Now add the flour to the bowl, sprinkle the salt and baking powder evenly over the flour. Using your mixer on low speed, mix until a smooth batter forms.
(I always do just the dry ingredients for a few seconds first, to combine them a little).
3. Transfer the batter to a lined loaf pan and bake in the hot oven at 360°F for 55-60 minutes.
As soon as the cake is done, remove it from the oven but leave it in the pan. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes, then use a skewer to poke holes all over the cake (do not poke all the way to the bottom, just about ¾ of the way down.
Allow the cake to sit in the pan for another 10 minutes, then carefully lift it out and set on a cooling rack to cool completely (if a little bit of syrup gathered at the bottom of the pan, brush it over the cake again).
4. Once the cake has cooled completely, transfer it to a serving platter. Combine the lemon glaze and brush it all over the top of the cake.
Allow the glaze to firm up for at least 10 minutes before serving!
- Mixing: Don’t worry too much about overmixing the batter, that is more an issue with muffins and quick breads. You don’t want to exaggerate the mixing, but you do want to end up with a smooth, creamy batter – not a lumpy one.
- Batter consistency: The batter is a little scraggly before you add the flour. Do not worry about this at ALL, this recipe is very forgiving and you really can throw in the sugar and eggs at the same time and then cream until fluffy.
- Dry ingredients: If your baking powder is very clumpy, I recommend sifting the dry ingredients before adding them to the cake batter. Otherwise, you will not achieve an even rise.
- Hole poking: Make sure to poke enough holes into the cake, but also make sure to not poke all the way to the bottom – else the lemon syrup would just run through the cake instead of staying inside. Go about ¾ down. If you zoom in on the photo I added a little bit higher up in the post, you can easily see how many holes I poked into my cake, if you need a visual reference.
- Syrup: Wait a few seconds in between brushing on the syrup, it takes a little longer vs just pouring it on top, but it helps the syrup to really soak into the cake instead of just running down the sides. The syrup adds a lot of lemon flavor, tanginess and mositure, so it’s important to take your time here.
- Careful when moving the cake: The cake is quite springy and fragile, especially once it has been soaked with sryup. Be careful when transferring it to the cooling rack, and also to the cake platter. I also recommend going for thick slices over very skimpy ones.
- Glaze: By using fresh lemon juice, the glaze gets an incredibly delicious lemony tang. This adds a lot of extra citrus flavor to the pound cake, so I highly recommend you don’t skip it!
Pound cake got its name by using a pound of butter, a pound of sugar and a pound of flour. It doesn’t contain any baking powder and gets leavened just by eggs.
Here we are roughly using ½ pound of each ingredients, but also baking powder to make it foolproof.
I’d like to think I make a slightly modernized version of the traditional pound cake: With a little extra tang from sour cream (which you definitely WON’T find in the traditional recipe), a little extra leavening insurance and… a little extra flavor from the drizzle and the glaze.
First and foremost: Do NOT overbake the cake! Baking the pound cake too long will result in a dry loaf, no matter what recipe you’re going to use.
Secondly, be careful when measuring your flour. Spoon the flour into your measuring cup and then level with a knife (I have instructions on how to measure flour). Using too much flour results in a dry and crumbly cake.
And last but not least: Don’t cut back on the butter. Do not use substitutes such as applesauce. You’re making a dessert. Live a little 😉
You only need two ingredients for a nice lemon glaze: Icing sugar and lemon juice.
Don’t worry if it seems like there’s not enough lemon juice at first, the icing sugar will quickly absorb it all. If you add too much juice, your glaze won’t be as nicely white and thick! The glaze also firms up and whitens as it hardens, which is why I recommend glazing at least 10 minutes before serving, and waiting for the cake to cool completely before drizzling it with the glaze.
If you like your glaze EXTRA thick, wait for it to fully firm up. Then, add another layer of glaze on top of the glaze.
More lemon treats
Glazed Lemon Loaf Cake
- 1 cup butter softened
- 3 large eggs room temperature preferred
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup sour cream room temperature preferred; OR Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1-2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest about 1 lemon; zest before cutting in half/juicing
- 2 cups flour spooned and levelled (240g or 8.5 ounces; do NOT over-measure flour! If you have kitchen scales, I highly recommend weighing your flour!)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup lemon juice about 3 lemons; please measure juice before adding icing sugar
- 1 cup icing sugar sifted if clumpy
- 1 cup icing sugar sifted if clumpy
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice about ½ lemon
- Prep: Preheat oven to 360°F. Line a 9×5 inch (OR 8×4 inch) loaf pan with baking parchment.
- Cream ingredients: Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer using the beater attachments until creamy (you can also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment). Add eggs and sugar and cream until light in color and fluffy. Add sour cream, lemon zest and lemon juice; mix until combined (it's OK if it looks split and scraggly).
- Add dry ingredients: Add flour to bowl with creamed ingredients, then sprinkle baking powder and salt on top. Mix on low with your mixer, until you have a smooth batter.
- Bake: Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before adding the syrup (leave cake in pan).
- Syrup: Combine ½ cup lemon juice with 1 cup icing sugar. Using a skewer, poke several holes into cake, about ¾ into the cake (do not poke holes all the way down to bottom of cake!). Brush syrup over cake, waiting for syrup to soak in before adding more. Let cake sit in pan for 10 more minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Glaze: Mix 1 cup icing sugar and 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice until smooth and barely pourable (it's a thick glaze). Carefully spread on top of completely cooled cake. Let firm up for at least 10 minutes before serving.
More recipe information
Recipe first published on 04/12/2019. Updated with new photos, new text and new recipe on 01/07/2022. If you’ve made the old recipe before and prefer it, download it here.