The best lemon sour cream pound cake for any occasion! This old fashioned lemon sour cream pound cake with is moist, soft, and topped with a perfect buttery lemon icing! And if you want more pound cake goodness, try my Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake, my Apple Cider Donut Cake, and my Key Lime Pound Cake!
Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake Recipe
For my family, no holiday gatherings are complete without a table full of desserts. There are always the usual must-haves: sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, banana pudding, icebox pies, and pound cakes of all varieties. This recipe for lemon sour cream pound cake reminds me of that dessert table, and all the 7-up cakes and sock-it-to-me cakes that the amazing bakers in my family bring to it.
Lemon Pound Cake Recipe for Juneteenth Cookout 2021
I'm especially proud to share this lemon pound cake recipe to celebrate Juneteenth, the oldest national celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. It commemorates June 19th, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced to citizens of Galveston, Texas that all formerly enslaved people were finally free -- two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. From then on, Black Americans around the country have celebrated June 19th as Juneteenth, our country's second independence day, a day of jubilation and remembrance.
Today, Juneteenth continues to grow in prominence, and is traditionally celebrated with parades, barbecues, street fairs, and rodeos. Food and drink are important parts of Juneteenth celebrations, which is what brings us to this year's Juneteenth Virtual Cookout, an annual collaboration among Black food bloggers and creators to celebrate the culinary tradition of Juneteenth. This year, more than 40 Black creators have come together to contribute to this collaborative menu as a Freedom Day tribute, and you HAVE to see these amazing recipes!
The full list of all of the creators and their recipes is down below -- you can take part in the Freedom Day celebration by trying and sharing these recipes, and following along with #JuneteenthCookout2021 on Instagram!
What is the origin of pound cake?
Early pound cake recipes date all the way back to the 1700s in England, and two pound cake recipes are included in 1796's American Cookery, the first cookbook published in the United States by an American author, Amelia Simmons. As the decades progressed, pound cake recipes grew in popularity, particularly in Southern states.
In 1866, Malinda Russell, an African American woman born and raised in Tennessee, published A Domestic Cook Book: Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen, which is now recognized as the very first cookbook published by an African American chef. Mrs. Russell led a truly remarkable life, including working as a cook and a nurse, and owning a laundry, a boarding house, and a pastry shop. In A Domestic Cook Book, Mrs. Russell presents hundreds of recipes, mostly for sweets and baked goods. Several of them are unmistakable as pound cakes, and many have striking similarities to this lemon sour cream pound cake:
Then, in 1881, when Mrs. Abby Fisher published What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, the second known cookbook by an African American chef, she included two pound cake recipes as well, cementing the pound cake as an archetype of both Southern and African American cooking.
Today, pound cakes of all types are a consistent presence on the tables of Black families. I personally find so much joy in knowing that when I bake this lemon sour cream pound cake, I'm honoring the culinary and pastry traditions of these trailblazing Black chefs, and all of the talented bakers in my own family as well.
Why is it called lemon pound cake?
The name "pound cake" comes from the fact that the cake was originally made with a pound each of flour, eggs, sugar, and butter. As time has gone on, the standard pound cake recipe has evolved to produce a softer, fluffier texture, while maintaining the moist, tight crumb of its origins. This moist lemon sour cream pound cake is the result of hundreds of years of pound cake evolution!
How do you make a lemon pound cake moist from scratch?
The secret for a moist texture in this lemon sour cream pound cake is right there in the name: the sour cream! Just like with my chocolate sour cream pound cake, the sour cream in this cake creates a moist, tender cake while maintaining that rich, dense crumb that all good pound cakes have. Also, I would definitely recommend full-fat sour cream to achieve the perfect level of moisture.
Also, make sure not to over-bake your cake! Leaving your cake in the oven even a couple minutes too long can dry it out, so begin to check it a few minutes before the bake time is up.
Ingredients for Old Fashioned Lemon Pound Cake
- granulated sugar - we'll use granulated sugar to create a nice sweetness and balance out the tartness of the lemon in this pound cake.
- lemon zest - pressing the lemon zest into the sugar helps to bring out the natural oils present in the zest, and gives us a brighter lemon flavor in this lemon sour cream pound cake.
- salted butter - make sure your butter is room temperature. If you prefer to use unsalted butter, just add ½ teaspoon of salt in with your dry ingredients.
- eggs - your eggs should also be room temperature.
- vanilla extract - be sure to use a high-quality pure vanilla extract. Or better yet, check out my post on how to make vanilla extract at home with just 2 ingredients!
- fresh lemon juice - the combination of zest and juice in this sour cream pound cake gives us such a perfect lemon flavor!
- sour cream - our not-so-secret ingredient! Make sure you use a full-fat sour cream, and that it's room temperature as well.
- cake flour - making our lemon sour cream pound cake using cake flour gives us a soft, tender crumb that is so perfect with the buttery cake. Be sure to use a kitchen scale to measure by weight, or use the spoon-and-level method to measure by volume. If you don't have cake flour, see below for an easy substitute!
- baking soda - we'll add a little baking soda to make sure that we get a nice lift to this cake.
Finally, we'll make an easy lemon glaze for this sour cream pound cake!
- powdered sugar - provides the structure and sweetness for our glaze. Just like with our cake flour, be sure to measure it correctly.
- lemon zest and juice - for a boost of lemony flavor. Add a little extra lemon juice as needed to achieve the right thinness.
- melted butter - a touch of butter gives the glaze a richer texture!
What does adding sour cream to cake do?
Sour cream adds moisture to your cake batter without thinning it out, giving you a moister, closer crumb in your finished cake. Also, the acid present in sour cream provides a tangy flavor, and reacts with baking soda to give this lemon sour cream pound cake more lift! Finally, the high fat content in full-fat sour cream keeps your cake moist well after it's baked!
This lemon sour cream pound cake requires basic cake tools -- an electric mixer, a whisk and rubber spatula, and of course, a Bundt or tube pan! My favorite pound cake pan is this Nordicware Elegant Party Bundt Pan, which provides such a neat shape and divides into lots of perfectly-sized slices!
Tips and F.A.Q.
If you don’t have cake flour, you can make a substitute to use for this lemon sour cream pound cake! All you need is all-purpose flour and corn starch. Just measure out 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour and replace 5 tablespoons of it with cornstarch. In grams, it’ll be 273 grams of all-purpose flour sifted with 40 grams of cornstarch.
If you don't have any full-fat sour cream on hand, the closest substitute would be an equivalent amount of full-fat greek yogurt.
Here’s my method: First, make sure your bundt pan is well-made, with a high-quality nonstick coating free of any scuffs or scratches. Then, just before pouring in the batter, spray your bundt pan with baking spray (the kind that contains flour), being sure to get it in every crevice. Finally, let your lemon sour cream pound cake rest for 10-15 minutes when you remove it from the oven, then immediately turn out carefully onto a wire rack to cool completely. If necessary, tap jiggle the overturned bundt pan to loosen the cake. This is what I’ve learned to do each time, and always have great results!
Like most pound cakes, this cake stores and freezes so well! You can keep it, covered, at room temperature for up to four days, or you can freeze it, well wrapped, for up to two months.
More Lemon Recipes You'll Love
- Lemon Icebox Pie
- Lemon Dump Cake
- Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins with Lemon
- Lemon and Blackberry Cake
- Lemon Curd Cookies
Equipment you may need
- 10-12 cup bundt pan
- 4 teaspoon (20 ml) lemon zest - packed
- 2 ¼ cups (450 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (227 g) salted butter - room temperature - 2 sticks
- 4 large eggs - room temperature
- 2 teaspoon (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (61 g) fresh lemon juice
- 8 oz. (227 g) full-fat sour cream - room temperature (about 1 cup)
- 2 ½ cups (313 g) cake flour
- ½ teaspoon (2 ml) baking soda - 2g
- baking spray
- 2 cup (240 g) confectioners’ sugar - 230g
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon zest
- ⅓ cup (81 g) fresh lemon juice - or more as needed
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) salted butter - melted
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Add lemon zest and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mizing bowl. Press zest into sugar with a rubber spatula for about 1 minute to release lemon oils.4 teaspoon lemon zest, 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- Add butter and cream for about 3 minutes or until creamy and fluffy.1 cup salted butter - room temperature
- Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla, mixing well between each addition.4 large eggs, 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and lemon juice until smooth. Set aside.¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 8 oz. full-fat sour cream
- In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour and baking soda.½ teaspoon baking soda, 2 ½ cups cake flour
- Fold in ⅓ of dry ingredients to batter until just combined, then fold in with ½ of sour cream mixture. Repeat with another ⅓ of the dry ingredients, then remaining sour cream mixture, then the final ⅓ of dry ingredients.
- baking spray
- Spoon batter into pan and smooth the top. Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick entered into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, lemon zest, melted butter, and lemon juice until smooth. If needed, add more lemon juice a teaspoon at a time to thin glaze to desired consistency.2 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons salted butter
- Pour glaze over cooled cake and let set before serving.
PIN this lemon sour cream pound cake recipe for later!
#JuneteenCookout2021 Recipes - Try, Share, and Enjoy!
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Last Updated on November 14, 2022 by Chenée Lewis
This cake recipe is everything! The directions were perfection and easy to follow. The video helped ensure consistency. The cake came out perfectly, lovely lemon flavor with that down home pound cake flavor you expect. Might become my new cake to bring to events!
That's so great to hear!! I love making this cake for special occasions so I'm so glad you love it too!
Very good!!!! Moist with nice subtle lemon flavor. Left icing off only because did not have time. New go to cake.
So glad you like it! Thanks!
This looks amazing and I will make for a friends birthday. I will use regular flour and need some clarification please. Do I remove 5 tablespoons of flour and then add the 5 Tbl of cornstarch. Thanks
Hi! Yes exactly! The cornstarch takes the place of 5 tbsps of the flour.
I have all my ingredients coming to room temp. This is the first time I am making this recipe. Just wanted to thank you for the way in which you listed below each step, the exact ingredients and amounts. It is so helpful because scrolling back up to the recipe for the amounts is so frustrating. I will post how the cake came out! 🤞
I'm so glad it's helpful! I hope you loved the cake! 🙂
I have made a lot of pound cakes in my day…. Everything from plain to chocolate to lemon…. This one trumps them all! Thank you for sharing!
I'm so happy to hear that!! Thank you!
Thank you for the nice recipe.
I don't have a stand mixer but I have a hand mixer.
Can I use melted butter and oil instead of just soften butter. I thought it woul be easier for me to make. In that case
could you recommend how much the ratio would be good?
I haven't tried this recipe with melted butter and oil -- using softened butter is important to aerate the batter and give the cake a soft, fluffy texture. I'd recommend using your hand mixer to cream the softened butter and sugar the same way you would use a stand mixer 🙂
Delicious! Very lemony and the icing is perfectly tart.
So great to hear it! Thank you so much!
Very delicious, thanks for the recipe ❤️
So glad you liked it! 🙂
Listen! I am not the best cook and I still have to follow recipes to the letter, so thank you for being specific. I was under duress and very nervous baking a cake "from scratch" for my boyfriend, but it came out well! His oven runs hot, so the outside cooked a little browner than I would have liked, but the cake itself was moist like a "real" pound cake!! I am so proud of myself! I will never go back to box cake again! Thank you!!!
I'm so glad the recipe worked for you and you were able to make yourself proud!! That's my goal! Thank you so much for the comment 🙂
Thank you very much! I'm glad you like it!
I lucked up and found this recipe. It’s absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing it along with the history behind pound cakes ❤️
You're so welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Love this recipe! Old ones w history behind it speak to me. Can't wait to make it. Do you think it could be made in loaf pan? Thanks for sharing
Thanks so much Jen! I love the history behind lemon pound cakes too. I haven't tried it in a loaf pan yet -- I would guess that it could work in a 9x5 loaf pan, but would need a longer bake time. Enjoy!