This week I stopped at Starbucks and bought a piece of their famous lemon pound cake. The texture was dense, tight crumbed and kind of heavy (a slice weighed 1/4 pound!), but what I liked best was the strong lemon flavor. I think they use lemon oil, so I wanted to see if I could duplicate that lemon flavor at home by grinding lemon zest with sugar and getting the natural oil from the lemon. Plus I’d also been looking for an excuse to try a pound cake recipe called “Smoothest Southern Pound Cake” from my newest Southern Living Book, Southern Living: 40 Years of Our Best Recipes: Over 250 Great-Tasting, Tried-and-True Southern Recipes — which I highly recommend. I’ve been cooking out of it like crazy this past week and love the historical background they give for each recipe.
For this cake, they marveled at its texture, which resulted from an unusual mixing method. Flour is added before the yolks, next come the flavorings and sour cream, and the final step is to fold in the egg whites. The original recipe is vanilla, but I used my new lemon grinding method and got just as much lemon flavor as I’d hoped. As for the cake’s texture, it was great – not like Starbucks because it was softer and lighter, but still very tight crumbed and dense. It’s interesting to see how cake flour pound cakes compare to all-purpose flour pound cakes. As much as I prefer cake flour in cakes, pound cake is a type of cake where the extra gluten in all-purpose really helps the structure. But I tend to lean towards pound cakes with cake flour or better yet, White Lily. It’s also interesting to see the differences between butter and shortening. Sheesh, I really wish I had a job in a test kitchen, but I can only do some much on my own here and in my spare time. And then there’s all the clean-up! But I’d like to make about 60 pound cakes with ingredient variations and just see how they compare.
Updated: I’ve since changed the recipe a bit by altering the amount of lemon zest and adding a bit of lemon extract or lemon oil. I also do not grind the zest with the sugar anymore.
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1 stick (114 grams) unsalted butter, cool room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (294 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) sifted cake flour (measure after sifting)
- 3/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest and 1 tablespoon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon good quality lemon extract
- 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8x4 inch loaf pan.
- With a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Set them aside.
- Using the same mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and creamy.
- Stir together the sifted cake flour, baking soda and salt and gradually add to the batter, stirring with a heavy duty scraper, until blended. Add egg yolks and stir until mixed, then add vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon juice and stir well. Stir in the sour cream.
- Fold in the beaten egg whites.
- Pour into pan and bake and 325 for 45-50 minutes or until cake tests done.
- To make the icing, put the sugar in a large bowl. Add lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring all the while, until the consistency is somewhat like glue. Pour or drizzle over cake.