Thursday, March 3, 2011

Luscious Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake (for National Pound Cake Day)

Lemon cream cheese pound cake. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

I'm not sure how or why there is a National Pound Cake Day, but here it is the 4th day of March, in the holiday lull between St. Valentine's and St. Patrick's Day and I guess somebody needed an excuse to bake. Pound cake is as good an excuse as any, I suppose.

The classic pound cake requires a pound of each ingredient - butter to sugar to flour to eggs. Without leavening, this makes for a large, dense cake. Modern cakes tend to fudge on the ratio. My go-to recipe has a ratio of approximately 1.25 pounds fat (combined cream cheese and butter) : .75 pound sugar : .75 pound flour : .6 pound eggs.

Looking for a new flavor, I dug out a cookbook that has hugged my pantry shelf for at least 15 years - "The Pound Cake Cookbook" by Bibb Jordan (Longstreet Press, 1994). It's a darling little book, cover price $8.95, with nearly 40 recipes from Chocolate Cherry Pound Cake to Savory Cheese Pound Cake. My eyes locked on "Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake" - I'm a sucker for anything with lemon - lemon cookies, lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, lemon bars.

This recipe is surprising, first with the self-rising flour. Pound cakes are traditionally leavened only with eggs, which can make for a leaden leaven. I personally like a dense texture, but this lighter cake is a winner, too. Because of the leavening, it bakes faster, in under an hour, and has a lighter, spongier texture. It’s perfect for a spring dessert. With Easter and Mother’s Day falling within two weeks of each other, this would make an excellent cake for the holiday table. The cake is pretty with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, but I like the puckery tart sweetness of the lemon glaze.

Lemons by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze

Adapted from The Pound Cake Cookbook by Bibb Jordan (Longstreet Press, 1994)

3 medium lemons, zested and juiced

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

8 ounces 1/3-less-fat (Neufchatel) cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

6 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1. Preheat oven to 325. Prepare a tube or Bundt pan with baking spray or butter and flour.

2. In large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Gradually add sugar. Add eggs two at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Add flour, lemon zest, lemon extract and two tablespoons of lemon juice (reserve remainder of juice for lemon glaze), beating until flour is incorporated and batter is smooth and free of lumps.

4. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 325. Cake is done when tester comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack. While cake is cooling, prepare the Lemon Glaze.

Lemon Glaze

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 to 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

1. In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar. Whisk until combined and lump-free. If the glaze is lumpy, whisk vigorously, then let sit for 10 minutes or so, the lumps will be absorbed.

2. Glaze lemon pound cake while still warm.

My little kitchen helper wanted to decorate the cake, and she just happened to have a box of Valentine hearts....

Lemon Pound Cake with Valentines by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
The artist and her creation. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Happy National Pound Cake Day! Don't forget to leave cake for the elves!
Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.


Grace Hwang Lynch said...

Oh my goodness, THAT is a lemon poundcake. 3 lemons! I have this recipe for Lady Bird Johnson's lemon bundt cake which has just a a measly 1 tsp. zest and 1 tsp. juice. I have to try yours.

But what's with the self-rising flour? Is there an alternative? I already have tons of flour, baking powder, soda, cream of tartar. Is there some mix I could sub?

Lucy@acookandherbooks said...

Thanks for reading! Here's the substitution for self-rising flour: for each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

The adjustment to this recipe: instead of 2 cups self-rising flour, use 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder and a teaspoon salt. Let me know if you give this cake a try!

The Teacher Cooks said...

Lucy,what a great lemony cake. It is just beautiful. Any day is a poundcake day to me.

Anonymous said...

Yummy...I will try that THIS weekend! Thanks! Candy K. in AR

Kathy Embrey said...

I'm always looking for a new Lemon Pound Cake and this looks like one! I have all I need except the real lemons (duh) so I'm headed to get those lemons right now! Hubbie had to go o business o/o town for 3 days and guess who gets the first try after the cakes bakes??? !!!!!!! I'll file report...LOL...We in Wyoming love these cakes, too!

Anonymous said...

This cake is the BOMB!!!! I was looking for a lemon cream cheese pound cake & after comparing several recipes this sounded like the one to try. Am I glad I DID!

I LOVE lemons, so I used 4 lemons instead of 3...zested & juiced in the same bowl, so when the recipe called for juice in the batter, I had juice & zest. For the sauce, I melted 1/4 c butter, then added the remaining zest/juice & 10x sugar, pouring it over the warm cake and OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!! This one will be a staple. THANKS!

green said...

Good good I've made two thanks so much for sharing Here in AL.

Andra said...

I see it’s been a long time since this post and cake have received some love. I made it for the first time for Xmas 2021. An absolute winner! This recipe is a keeper to be made many times yum!