Monday, September 21, 2009

Lemon Pound Cake

The Tall-Nonfat-Latte Gods are super high-maintenance and require daily worship at Starbucks (sometimes twice daily). I am convinced that the revenue Starbucks receives from my regular patronage is enough to maintain all nine locations within a four block radius of my house. What can I say? I'm Seattleite. That's how I justify the caffeine addiction. It's in my blood. Figuratively speaking. Well, on second thought...literally speaking too. lol.

Anyway, you can't go to Starbucks as much as I do and not have tried every single pastry in the case. My all time favorite pastry is the Lemon Loaf. It's basically a dense lemon pound cake with a sugary lemon glaze. die for. Back in my college days when I had a stomach of steel, I used to get it everyday. Not even kidding. It goes so perfectly with a latte. The bitterness of the coffee coupled with the lemony sweetness of the pound cake created the perfect flavor balance. Pure joy to your taste buds.

I wanted to see if I could find a good recipe for it and I went on a week long search. I was prepared to try out several, in order to find the one that most closely resembled my beloved Starbucks pastry. By chance, I stumbled upon a chat forum, where someone posted a recipe that claimed to be the real thing! Forget about researching! Regardless of whether or not it's the actual one, the sheer boldness of the claim sparked my interest and I immediately felt the need to prove/disprove it.

And of course, me being me, I couldn't just be normal and bake a loaf, like the recipe intended. Yup, I made cupcakes. Of course. Everything's just cuter in a cupcake cup. It's just a simple fact of life- embrace it.

The recipe was super involved! There were a lot of steps...melt butter first. Then create the wet ingredients mixture in the food processor, while slowly pouring in the melted butter. Then sift in the dry ingredients. There was a lot of transferring from one bowl to the other! I'm thinking...this better be the real thing!

I really really couldn't help myself and decided to make two kinds: regular sized cupcakes and mini ones! Aren't the bite sized ones super cute? They'd be such a great treat to serve at a party!

While the pound (cup)cakes are cooling, make the glaze. It's a mixture of sugar and lemon juice.

I topped a few of them with the glaze.

And I sifted powdered sugar over the others!

Ok, so here are the results of my experiment:

(1) They were incredibly delicious! Well worth the pain and effort. This recipe is definitely a keeper and I will for sure make it again some time, especially for a party. I brought them to Hubby's work and they were a hit. People were even taking them home to loved ones!

(2) I don't think this is the actual Starbucks Lemon Loaf recipe, but it's close enough that I'm appeased. I can't put my finger on exactly why it isn't, I just know that it's not. I can't give any concrete arguments as to why, but when you've had the real thing as much as I have, you just know these things instinctively, you know? A Fat-Kid knows her favorite cake! So, sorry to disappoint!

(3) I did not like the lemon glaze. It was grainy and it was way too tart. Too much lemon juice, and not enough sugar. I was surprised that it used regular sugar instead of powdered sugar. The glaze on the Starbucks loaf is smooth and opaque. Whereas, this one was shiny and grainy. I just can't get over the texture of it. Anyway, the powdered sugar ones were great! I even liked them plain!

If anyone else out there is a Starbucks Lemon Loaf fan, please try out this recipe and let me know what you think! I'd like to hear about how you think this recipe stacks up to the real thing!

Lemon Pound Cake
Published: March 1, 2002
Makes one 9 by 5-inch cake, serving 8

You can use a blender instead of a food processor to mix the batter. To add the butter, remove the center cap of the lid so it can be drizzled into the whirling blender with minimal splattering. This batter looks almost like a thick pancake batter and is very fluid.

16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), plus 1 tablespoon, softened, for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups cake flour (6 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon for dusting pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (8 3/4 ounces)
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice from 2 medium lemons
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Lemon Glaze (Optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup lemon juice , from 1 or 2 medium lemons

See Illustrations Below: Glazing Pound Cake

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with 1 tablespoon softened butter; dust with 1 tablespoon cake flour, tapping out excess. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2. In glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter, covered with plastic wrap, at full power until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. (Alternatively, melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat.) Whisk melted butter thoroughly to reincorporate any separated milk solids.
3. In food processor, process sugar and zest until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Add lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla; process until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine running, add melted butter through feed tube in steady stream (this should take about 20 seconds). Transfer mixture to large bowl. Sift flour mixture over eggs in three steps, whisking gently after each addition until just combined.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake until deep golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.
5. If using lemon glaze, while cake is cooling in pan, bring sugar and lemon juice to boil in small nonreactive saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
6. After turning cake onto wire rack, poke the cake's top and sides with a toothpick and brush on Lemon Glaze (see illustrations below). Cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour. (Cooled cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.)


  1. I LOVE the lemon pound cake at starbucks. Love it. My mom has been trying for years to find something similar. We still haven't found it, but I have a recipe for lemon layer cake and I really like the frosting.

    I actually add more lemon to the frosting, and I just put the frosting in between the lemon filling. The cake is a smidge on the dry side....but my oven is tricky and I'm still trying to figure out how to get it be the right temperature.

  2. Hi Judy, Yatie here from Kuala Lumpur, malaysia. I saw all your cupcakes look very yummy and nice. I always had problem and difficulty how to scoop my cupcakes batter into the paper liner in order them to get same level after baking. I do not know what to use and how to measure. Some time i sccop the batter in 3/4 of cup or 1/2 cup but still not get the same level. Would appreciate if you can teach me and email to me at

    Really apprceiate it.



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