The Moistest Lemoniest Loaf Cake Possible, please
February 2, 2021 11:24 AM   Subscribe

I have eaten lemon poppyseed loaf cakes or lemon pound cakes that were deliciously moist and intensely lemony. I have never been able to reproduce this in my own kitchen, despite trying a variety of different recipes. Please share with me your recipes that reliably produce moist lemony cakes.

A few more specifics:

- I am looking for a loaf cake only - no bundt cakes, layer cakes, or sheet cakes need apply
- I do not want frosting. Adding extra lemon as a glaze is fine.

Thank you!
posted by darchildre to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
Searching for "Starbucks lemon loaf copycat" will get you several options. A good friend of mine has made this one a few times with good results, to which I can personally attest.
posted by jedicus at 11:31 AM on February 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

My grandmother made the absolute best lemon cakes. They were a highlight of my childhoofd. After she passed, I asked my mom if she had her recipe. She did. Turns out it was the Duncan Hines box mix with a little lemon glaze on top. Like you, I've tried a lot of recipes, but haven't really found one that beats it.
posted by Miko at 11:32 AM on February 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

So... I just made this Krusteaz Meyer Lemon Pound Cake like 3 days ago, and my husband and I polished it off in a day and a half. It was so delicious that I now want this as my birthday cake for the rest of my life.
posted by jabes at 11:36 AM on February 2, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: This, by Ina Garten, is the very best lemon cake recipe. It's the only one I make. It's extra lemony because you make syrup with lemon juice and soak the thing, plus there's lemon juice in the glaze and zest in the cake.

Oh, and it's best if you use real buttermilk. You can always make buttermilk-ish stuff with vinegar and milk, but I've found that real buttermilk actually matters for this one.
posted by hought20 at 11:44 AM on February 2, 2021 [12 favorites]

i made this one with lemon zest, and was immediately requested to make another one:
posted by alchemist at 11:46 AM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've made Alison Roman's lemon coconut tea cake (shared here by Molly Wizenberg) many many times and you can certainly leave off the crispy coconut top! It's moist and lemony and perfect.
posted by monster_a at 11:52 AM on February 2, 2021

I made this recipe recently and it was delicious. I didn't have self-raising flour, so I added 3 teaspoons of baking powder to all-purpose flour.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:58 AM on February 2, 2021

I suspect this one is an old back-of-the box recipe, and it does have prepared cake mix and pudding mix in it, with a little alcohol. I've made it for years, and even the fancy people like it (I don't tell them about the pudding mix). Duncan Hines is the best cake mix for this. It is especially good with a lemon powdered sugar glaze:

1 Box Duncan Hines yellow or lemon cake mix
1 large pkg. instant lemon or vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup Canola oil
3/4 cup white dry sherry wine (not cooking wine)

Mix it all together until smooth. Bake in a buttered loaf pan 40 minutes or so. Let cool and either sprinkle with powdered sugar or glaze with powdered sugar mixed with lemon juice.
posted by answergrape at 12:05 PM on February 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Look for recipes with sour cream, they will come out a lot like the Starbucks version referenced above. If you are glazing it try putting some holes in the cake with a thin chopstick before pouring the glaze on so it gets all the way through the cake.
posted by arachnidette at 12:41 PM on February 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Aside from a loaf cake recipe, I'd expect the intensity of lemon flavor depends strongly on what you use for flavoring. I have lemon paste -- it is indeed more intense than you'll get with lemons alone, or extract.

Can vouch that pudding mix makes things very moist, I'd go in that direction too.
posted by Dashy at 12:45 PM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Ina Garten recipe hought20 posted. It's super moist & very lemony!
posted by burntflowers at 12:47 PM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

The best way I've found to bring citrus flavors to the foreground is to turn whatever sugar is called for in the recipe into a zested sugar. Here's one recipe/explanation.
posted by cocoagirl at 1:49 PM on February 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

This one (an older version of this King Arthur Flour recipe) is super-moist and lemony, and unlike a lot of similar recipes, the glaze isn't overly sweet. Just poke lots of holes in the top and pour the glaze all over, then let it soak overnight and it'll be even better the next day.

Lemon bread
  • 1 cup (198 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (99 g) vegetable oil or 1/2 cup (128 g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, lemon zest and juice, beating until thoroughly combined.

In a separate small bowl, beat the buttermilk and eggs.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk together to mix evenly.

Add the dry ingredients to the sugar and oil alternately with the buttermilk mixture, scraping the bowl at least once. When everything is incorporated, pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and place it on a rack.

Lemon glaze
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup (66 g) sugar
Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a microwave-safe container and microwave on high for 30 seconds to dissolve the sugar. Poke holes in the bread before soaking it with the glaze.
posted by LNM at 2:39 PM on February 2, 2021

This recipe by Heather Christo is the moistest, lemoniest loaf I've ever had. It is definitely cake and not bread.
posted by esoterrica at 4:24 PM on February 2, 2021

Best answer: We love Nigella Lawson's Lemon Syrup Loaf Cake.

She has an extra recipe which is just this, thickly sliced, topped with a syllabub (or fresh whipped cream) and fresh raspberries. It's a knockout no matter the season.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 5:59 PM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

This is my favorite cake, ever:
Take-your-breath-away lemon pound cake from BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes by Shirley O. Corriher

The book is an awesome resource, with lots of educational parts to help you understand baking!
posted by girlalex at 7:39 PM on February 2, 2021

Best answer: This Is Smitten Kitchen’s version of the Ina Garten recipe, she makes a few minor changes to simplify prep. Also, while the lead photo is of a Bundt cake, you can make 2 loaves. This is a great recipe and I’ve made it multiple times.
posted by queseyo at 8:34 PM on February 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Just came in to add a hearty second for the Smitten Kitchen lemon cake - I've made it many times and it's never once let me down.
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:27 AM on February 3, 2021

In the UK we have Lemon Drizzle cake, where you poke holes in the cake and pour over a lemony syrup mixture. It’s amazing.
posted by ElasticParrot at 4:40 AM on February 3, 2021

If you are in the US, Aldi sells a lemon loaf mix in the summer - make it with half vegetable oil and half coconut oil, use the glaze suggested, and you're golden. I don't remember if it has poppyseed or not, but gosh darn is it delicious.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:42 AM on February 3, 2021

Easiest lemon cake ever

- 1 box of lemon cake mix
- 3/4 can (about 9 fl oz) of old-fashioned lemonade (sparkling, not still, e.g. San Pellegrino Limonata). Use less, rather than more, you can always add more if the batter is too stiff.
- Zest and juice of one lemon

Mix it all together, pour into the loaf tin and bake. This will make a very light, soft, intensely lemony cake.
posted by essexjan at 6:09 AM on February 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

The lemon cake from Ottolenghi's Sweet is probably the most popular thing I make - I leave out the poppy seeds because I don't usually have them in the house. And I use the juice of an entire lemon, rather than measuring out the amount the recipe calls for.
posted by Karmeliet at 7:15 AM on February 3, 2021

Best answer: Tartine's lemon almond poppy seed cake is perfection. After it comes out of the oven, it gets soaked in a glaze of lemon juice, orange juice, and sugar, which really makes it incredibly moist and intense and forms a fantastic sweet crust.

I've made this recipe a zillion times and everyone always loves it!
posted by 168 at 5:57 AM on February 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

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