This vegan Lemon Pound Cake is intensely lemony and buttery and it has a soft, dense, velvety crumb. On top goes a fantastic and easy lemon glaze that'll leave you licking your fingers. A soy-free and nut-free recipe.
Here's a cake you'd be proud to serve anyone or guzzle down in secret all by yourself because who would want to share something so scrumptious? My vegan Lemon Pound Cake.
It's insanely lemony and deliciously sweet and it is so tender and soft that it just melts in your mouth. And on top of this amazing cake goes a lemony, deliciously sweet glaze that pushes an already exquisite cake into the realm of divinity.
I made a few versions of this cake to get the crumb just right -- and ate most of them with Desi and Jay -- and although I'm stuffed to my gills with all that cake, just looking at those photos is making me hungry. That's just how good it is. But you'll have to make it to find out. 😉
What is it called a pound cake?
Pound cakes were so named because they were originally made with a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. There was no leavening and the name itself was the recipe, see? Smart.
But over time, as cooks and times changed, pound cakes began to incorporate more ingredients, like sour cream, milk, and even leavening like baking soda and baking powder.
How do you make a pound cake without eggs and butter?
Taking away two of the four main ingredients of a pound cake may sound problematic, but with all we know about vegan baking today, it's not really that hard. Butter is easy enough to sub--I've used olive oil in the past just for a different flavor, but my advise is to just go with vegan butter for the best flavor. And you don't need a pound of it. You just need a quarter of a pound, or one stick of butter.
The eggs don't get a single substitute. Instead, I use a bit of cornstarch in the recipe, which helps with binding and also makes the cake crumb lighter. And I add some baking soda and baking powder for a bit of lift and structure, although you don't want too much of it, because you want that dense, soft crumb, remember?
What if I don't want to make this lemony?
You can leave out the lemon juice and just use nondairy milk. Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to activate the baking soda and give your cake some lift and structure. I will say this in closing, though: the lemony pound cake is extra delicious.
Do I need the lemon glaze?
The short answer is, you don't. The pound cake is delicious by itself and if you don't want it to be too lemony you can skip the glaze altogether and either leave your cake naked or dust it with some powdered sugar.
That said, the lemon glaze is really tasty and it also gives the pound cake a prettier look. It needs just two ingredients--three if you add vanilla--so use it if possible.
Can I bake this cake in a bundt pan?
Definitely. But you will need to double the recipe if you're baking this in a standard bundt cake pan, which has a 12- to 16-cup capacity. A standard 9 X 5 inch loaf pan is around 8 cups. This recipe doubles easily, and you'll have more--and a prettier--pound cake to eat. Make sure you double up on the glaze as well, if using.
Tips and steps for making the lemon pound cake
- A pound cake is different from a regular cake in a few crucial ways, so you need to switch up your technique a bit when you make it. When you make other cakes, you want the crumb to be airy and fluffy, so you start out by creaming the vegan butter and sugar together and incorporate air into your batter. With a pound cake, which is soft but has a dense crumb, you want to reverse the technique--you want to mix the flour and other dry ingredients and then add the liquid ingredients to it without incorporating too much air into them first.
- We will be using leavening in our pound cake because it's a vegan one and we are not using any eggs, so we need some help with rise and structure. I use a teaspoon of baking powder and half a teaspoon of baking soda. That's just enough--don't add more baking powder because you want to keep that crumb knit tight. Stir them in with the flour and with a pinch of salt and the sugar.
- With the butter, I tried two different techniques and both produced different results, so I wanted to share those in case you'd like to try either. The way you incorporate butter into this recipe, a technique I learned from this awesome video, to get the right pound cake texture, is to add it to the flour so the butter coats it. This does produce a more dense crumb, but be sure that your butter is completely soft if you do so. Otherwise the butter might not incorporate thoroughly. When I tried this again, I melted the butter and then added it. I preferred this technique because it produced a slightly lighter crumb. You can try either.
- For the liquid ingredients, whisk vegan yogurt, ¼ cup of lemon juice, the zest of one lemon and two teaspoons of vanilla. Some of the lemon flavor dissipates during baking so while a fourth of a cup might seem like a lot, it isn't (I discussed this in some detail in my Vegan Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake recipe).
- My bundt cake was, in fact, the base recipe I used for this pound cake, but I changed the amounts of the ingredients to get the right flavor and texture for a pound cake.
- Your cake will bake for about 45-50 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Keep in mind that the kind of pan you use will determine the color of your cake. A metal pan will produce a darker color on the outside, and a glass pan will give your cake a lighter look.
- For the glaze, all you need to do is mix powdered sugar with the juice of a lemon and a drop of vanilla (don't use too much vanilla when you're not cooking it). Mix them up and glaze the loaf when it's cooled or nearly cooled. Let it stand a few minutes for the glaze to set. Then eat.
Vegan Lemon Pound Cake
- 1 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¾ cup sugar (you can make this up to 1 cup for a sweeter cake)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 8 tbsp vegan butter (melted or allowed to stand at room temperature until completely soft. Melting the butter will create a slightly airier crumb)
- ¼ cup lemon juice (use fresh-squeezed juice, not bottled)
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup vegan yogurt (I used my homemade cultured cashew yogurt, but use any unsweetened storebought yogurt. Cashew yogurt would be ideal)
For the lemon glaze:
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, sugar and salt.
- Whisk the butter into the flour until incorporated, a few seconds.
- In another bowl, mix the yogurt, vanilla extract and lemon juice and zest until combined.
- Add the liquid mixture to the flour in two batches, mixing thoroughly with a spatula after each addition. Make sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. If using a stand mixer, mix for 20 seconds after each addition.
- Prepare a loaf pan by coating it with cooking spray and placing a piece of parchment at the bottom to make unmolding easier.
- Scrape the batter into the pan. It will be quite thick. Smooth the top wth the spatula.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. The top will crack, but that's typical of pound cake batters and actually gives your cake a nice look.
- Cool the cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold it and continue cooling it on the rack.
- Once the cake has nearly cooled, prepare the glaze by mixing the confectioners' sugar with the lemon juice and vanilla, if using. Drizzle it over the pound cake, and reserve some glaze to drizzle over individual slices.
Loved this Vegan Lemon Pound Cake recipe? Check out more vegan desserts on Holy Cow!