Spring has really arrived now. When it isn’t windy and rainy, the weather has been perfectly mild and sunny. I guess it might be spring fever, but I got it into my head that I needed to make lemon pound cake.
In particular, I wanted to make one like the one sold at Starbucks, with a thick drizzle of lemon icing. But I’ve always thought that cake looked better than it tasted. Mine would look pretty, but it would also have a perfectly tender crumb and a bold lemon flavor.
The problem is, pound cake is actually a lot harder to make than I thought it was. It had been a long time since I’d made a true pound cake. Many of the recipes I experimented with were more like lemon bread. They didn’t have that delicate texture I expect from pound cake.
I finally found a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that seemed crazy enough to work. The method is somewhat unorthodox, but like many of their recipes, but the results are perfect. Melted butter and a food processor are nontraditional for a pound cake recipe, but I can’t argue with the results. I decided to give it a twist by using Meyer lemons instead.
Meyer lemons are a special variety of lemon available only in winter and spring (versus regular lemons which are available all year). Native to China, they are actually a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. They are smaller, have thinner skins, and a more delicate herbal/floral note than a standard lemon. I’ve read that they are also a little less acidic than a standard lemon, but I haven’t tried drinking the juice myself.
You could certainly make this recipe with standard lemons, but I really enjoy baking with the Meyer lemons when they are available. Since they are less harsh then regular lemons, they are a great flavor in this delicate cake.
Meyer Lemon Pound Cake
Adapted from a recipe by America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 1 loaf, about 8-10 servings
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) cake flour, plus more for the pan
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp meyer lemon zest
- 2 tsp meyer lemon juice
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- zest of 1 meyer l lemon
- 1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tbsp meyer lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan by spreading the inside with softened butter. Coat with a small amount of flour and tap out any excess.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Melt the butter in the microwave and whisk thoroughly to reincorporate any separated milk solids.
In a food processor, pulse the sugar and zest until combined, about 5 pulses. Add the lemon juice, eggs, and extracts, process until combined. With the machine running, slowly add the melted butter through the feed tub in a steady stream. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Sift the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and whisk gently to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake until deep golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely, at least an hour.
Make the glaze by whisking the zest, confectioners sugar, and juice together in a small bowl. If necessary, add additional sugar or juice to achieve a thick but runny consistency. Pour glaze on top of cake and serve.