Monday, February 27, 2023

Sour Cream Lemon Pound Cake

One of the first things I learned to bake was pound cake. Then, when we moved into a house with a massive lemon tree, I started looking for ways to use up our lemons. It was natural that I would combine my love of pound cake with a plethora of lemons. This is another recipe that has become a favorite because we're constantly looking for ways to use our lemons, and this also makes a great treat to share with coworkers.

Prep time - 30 minutes

Bake time - 1 hour

Yield - 1 loaf (one serving. Just kidding. Not really)


- 1 stick of butter, room temperature* (set out the night before)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature*
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (3 large lemons)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
A grater for zesting lemons
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 Tablespoons sour cream, room temperature*
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*note - it is best for the butter to be room temperature. However, I regularly forget to set the other two ingredients out, so I usually use them slightly chilled. It is still great!

For the syrup:

- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice

For the glaze:

- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Cream the butter (don't throw the wrapper away; you'll need it in the next step) and 1 cup of sugar using an electric mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
It's easy to see how this can be confused with cheese (see below)

3) Grease and flour a loaf pan. HERE IS WHERE I CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I used to hate greasing pans, until I realized that after using a stick of butter, you can use the wrapper to grease a pan. Rub the loaf pan with the butter side of the wrapper, and then lightly flour. Magical? I think so. You're welcome.

4) With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest (when zesting lemons, wash the lemon and grate just the yellow part of the skin).

5) Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine lemon juice, sour cream, and vanilla. Add the flour and sour cream mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Alternate between adding wet and dry mixture
6) Pour the batter into the loaf pan and slightly smooth out the top. If you are stealthy enough, you will get to lick the beater and the bowl without your children hearing you and claiming them. This is very important.

7) Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If the top starts to brown towards the end but the cake is not done, I cover it with a piece of foil.

8) For the syrup, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Ready for the oven
9) When the cake is done, allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set it on a baking rack over a cookie sheet. Spoon the lemon syrup over the cake and allow to cool completely.

10) For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and the lemon juice. Pour over the top and allow to drip down the sides.

11) Enjoy!

Some notes:

Adding the syrup after the cake cools slightly
- If you have left over lemon zest, you can save it for another recipe. However, please be sure to label it. Last week I was making some pasta, and I added some shredded cheese. We had some in the refrigerator, and I shredded some more to add to it. When I added it to the pasta, I realized that the shredded cheese from the refrigerator was not cheese, but lemon zest. I regrouped, added some grilled chicken and a lot of salt, and called it Cheesy Lemon Zest Chicken. One of three kids ate it, which is not a bad percentage if I were a major league baseball player.

- I don't like overly sweet things. The first time I made this, I threw away half of the glaze because I thought it would make it too sweet. It doesn't. The syrup combined with the glaze is delicious. I'm planning on making one of these some day like a Twinkie, with the inside filled with glaze.
Correct glaze looks a little like glue

- My kids like helping with recipes. This is a great one because there is a lot of combining and adding. However, if they help, I know that I have to let them lick the beater and bowl. It's a small price to pay for together time.

One final word of caution: please remember that this is cake. With syrup. And frosting. When I make it I really want to eat the majority of it, trying to convince myself that the vitamin C from the lemons makes this a healthy cake. It's not.

Happy baking!


  1. This looks amazing Matt.

  2. My coworker Kim worked at Starbucks before she worked at Jones. She once told me how she missed the lemon loaf they sell. I made her one for Christmas with a copycat recipe I found online. But I thought it could be better, so I have been tweaking it ever since then. Where I am now is surprisingly similar to your recipe above! Great minds think alike!