Mom’s Lemon Pound Cake

As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t learn to cook at my mother’s knee: my Mom, in fact, doesn’t really like to cook. It’s just not her thing; raising three children that were extremely picky eaters might have had something to do with that (there’s only so much excitement to be garnered from Shake ‘n Bake chicken legs and frozen corn niblets, after all). But what she may have lacked in the exciting-dinner department, she more than made up for in the baking department: homemade chocolate chip cookies, apple pie and lemon pound cake were in regular rotation at our house when I was growing up, and always in evidence at the holidays.

Mom has been making this lemon pound cake for as long as I (or she) can remember: it’s always moist, simple, delicious. Equally at home with a cup of coffee (in fact, I had a piece for breakfast) or a glass of wine for dessert, this is a simple, moist cake that doesn’t disappoint. Mom can’t remember where the recipe came from: it looks to me like a Joy of Cooking or Fannie Farmer classic, but who knows? I’ve made it several times over the years and can tell you that it is rock solid: easy to prepare, difficult to screw up. The sour cream is critical, so don’t be tempted to omit; other than that, I’ve made a few tweaks over the years, nearly always with success. Since I am down in North Carolina with Mom for Christmas, and her classic lemon pound cake sat proudly on the counter last night when we arrived, I thought I would snap a few pictures and share the recipe with you all.

Wherever you may be this holiday season, I hope you enjoy a lovely slice of cake with the people that you love. Merry Christmas, all!

Mom’s Lemon Pound Cake


  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I would likely substitute half:half whole wheat pastry flour and whole white wheat flour)
  • 2 cups raw sugar (Mom informs me that she always uses raw sugar: I stand corrected)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • confectionery sugar + lemon juice, for glaze


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine all ingredients; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes or until well combined. Scrape into prepare bundt pan and tap to even the batter level. Bake in preheated oven for 60 – 65 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove and invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. In a small bowl, add 1 tbsp of lemon juice to approximately 1/4 cup of powdered sugar; mix well with a fork, adding more sugar or lemon juice as needed to yield a glaze that is thick, but pours easily off a spoon. Drizzle over the top of the bundt cake, allowing glaze to drip down the sides. Allow glaze to cool and harder and add a second layer as desired.

Serves 10 – 12.


  1. As noted above, I would likely swap in local, whole wheat flour and raw sugar for the more standard pantry staples; mostly because this is what I have in the house. I suspect the cake is delicious either way.
  2. Creme fraiche or plain yogurt would be a good substitute for sour cream.
  3. I think a glaze of thinned or never-quite-set marmalade would be lovely.


At room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days.


Year round… but especially Christmas!


  1. This is my Mom’s lemon pound cake, too! She doesn’t know where it came from–it was passed along to her by a coworker many years ago. Growing up, we ate that cake in many incarnations, including all flavors of yogurt replacing the sour cream. It is a delicious and versatile cake!

    • Hi Emily,

      Too funny! You know, I bet it was in some supermarket circular or Family Circle or something in the 70’s; and just got passed around and around. But how lucky for us that the recipe is still alive! 🙂

      • Definitely! People LOVE this cake! And to the comment below from Jacki–I know that my mom used low fat yogurt all the time in this cake, and it turned out just fine (although with a slightly heavier texture!).

  2. thanks for sharing this – your mom’s cake looks lovely. a great staple that obviously has stood the test of time. have a wonderful holiday K!

    and i am looking forward to all you have in store for us in your local kitchen in 2012!

  3. Jacki

    Has this recipe been tried with a fat free version of sour cream or yogurt? I see that the fats are backed up by the whole eggs and butter.
    I really want to try this.

    • The sour cream does contribute a lot to the moistness of the cake; I suspect a fat-free version would negatively impact the taste, density and texture of the cake. Surely you could try it; I would guess that fat-free yogurt would be the better bet. But, personally, I would opt to make the cake with the full-fat sour cream and opt to have a thinner slice of full-flavor cake. It freezes well so you can dole out those thin slices of pound cake for a long time….

    • Hi Miss Cherry,

      I’d bet Greek yogurt will work fabulously. Not sure about the cooking time, but I think you are right; probably a little less time. I’d start checking at 45 min or so and keep an eye on it.

      And if anyone needs a last-minute idea from Santa, sounds like you could use a bundt pan! 🙂

  4. Looks delicious! Pound cake is in Jen’s family rotating specials, but vanilla & chocolate. Lemon is more my thing. Perhaps a switch up of the pound cakes are in order next year!

    Happy holidays!

  5. Jodi

    I’ve made this cake a bunch of times now. Our favorite version so far is orange and instead of dusting the greased pan with flour, I use sugar. makes for great texture. also, I was out of sour cream one day so I used 2/3 mascarpone with 1/3 plain yogurt-full fat of course. it was even more amazing and not greasy.

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