Here’s an old-fashioned lemon pound cake recipe you can make from scratch. It’s not at all difficult and the results are spectacular! With all the butter, fluffy egg whites and sweet natural sugar, no one can resist a homemade lemon pound cake.
“Pound Cake” originated with early American colonists. The recipe calls for a pound of all the important stuff – butter, flour, eggs and sugar. They didn’t use leavening in this cake originally, just beat the egg whites and folded them in for a fluffy cake. To this batter they would add whatever other goodies they had on hand – poppyseeds, or if they were lucky, some preserved lemon or orange rind. It was a delicious treat then, and it’s the same today.
This recipe is about as “old-fashioned” as you can get – still calling for the “1-pound of everything,” and beating the egg whites. It does use just a LITTLE bit of baking powder. Otherwise, it’s the same recipe as that from the 1700s. Give it a try . . . you’ll enjoy it just as much as our ancestors here in America.
- 9 eggs, room temperature, separated
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups organic sugar, divided
- 2 cups butter, softened to room temp
- 2 tsp natural vanilla
- zest from 2 lemons
- juice from 2 lemons
Preheat oven to 350 F (for high-altitude instructions, see below.) Grease and flour your pan(s). You can use one LARGE tube pan (like an angel cake pan), a Bundt pan, or two loaf pans. If using the Bundt pan, you’ll probably have a little batter left over. I threw mine into 6 cupcakes.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt – set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites at high speed until foamy – about a minute to a minute and a half. Add 1 cup of the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, and beat after each addition. Beat the eggs until soft peaks form when you lift the beaters (peaks will rise from the foam, but will slowly drop back down). Scoop the whites into a separate bowl and set aside.
Now, add the YOLKS to the mixing bowl, along with the remaining 1 cup of sugar, butter, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat that mess until fluffy – about 4 minutes.
Beat in the flour mixture at low speed until smooth and combined. Gradually beat in the egg white mixture and lemon zest at the lowest speed, just until blended (if you have the patience, you can manually fold in the whites for the lightest texture – but I found beating them in slowly works just as well).
The batter will be thick. Scoop it into your pan(s) and even it out a bit. Bake the loaf pans for about 60 minutes, testing at 50. The top will almost certainly crack (I’ve never made one that didn’t, at this altitude). Be sure to test within the crack to see if the batter has just set and the color is a solid golden-brown. The tube and Bundt pan may take a bit longer.
Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes, then flip out of the pan(s) and cool completely.
I used a simple glaze mixed from 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, 2 tsp lemon juice and 2 Tbl milk. I put a sheet of wax paper under the cooling rack to catch any glaze that dripped off as I drizzled it over the cake. (I used this with the extra cupcakes I had – I hate waste!)
Alternately, you can dust the top with a little powdered sugar and serve it with fresh berries.
High-Altitude: Because there’s so little leavening in this cake, the only changes I made were the following:
- Increase oven temp to 375 F and decrease bake time to 45 minutes.
- Pull 2 Tbl sugar out
- Add 2 Tbl flour
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