Lemon cream cheese pound cake is packed with tart, lemony goodness, from the zest and juice in the batter to the lemon syrup that gets soaked into the cake after baking. Top it with a dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream for a dessert that’s made to impress.
This time of year might be my favorite for desserts.
Why? Because even though I like chocolate, lemony desserts are actually my favorite.
Give me a slice of lemon whipping cream cake over a slice of chocolate bundt cake any day.
If you’re the same as me, then you’ll love this lemon cream cheese pound cake. Whether you’re making it for an Easter dessert, a summer cookout, or just for a random weeknight, this is one you’ll want to make over and over.
WHAT IS POUND CAKE?
If you aren’t that familiar with pound cake, you might be wondering where it gets its name.
Traditionally, pound cake is made with 1 pound each of 4 ingredients:
One of the things that makes a pound cake a pound cake is that there is no baking powder or baking soda in it. The eggs in the batter do all of the work of leavening the cake.
So if you see a pound cake recipe with baking powder or baking soda, it’s not technically a pound cake – just a pound cake style cake. Even whipping cream cake isn’t quite a pound cake, although it’s very similar!
The way pound cake is made also produces a very dense, tight crumb. It makes it perfect for topping with all kinds of sauces or even grilling.
Different variations on pound cakes have emerged over the years to add to the original 4-ingredient classic pound cake recipe, such as 7UP pound cake.
Cream cheese pound cake might be my very favorite variation, though.
My lemony cream cheese pound cake recipe
My original cream cheese pound cake has the zest of 4 lemons in it to give it a bit of a lemony flavor, but I knew we could do even better.
I wanted to make a version that was undeniably lemon. One that would be perfect for fans of homemade lemon bars, chewy lemon sugar cookies, and microwave lemon curd.
To add to the lemon flavor, I kept the same amount of lemon zest and added 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of lemon extract to the batter. Then, after baking, I whipped up a lemon simple syrup to soak into the cake.
HOW TO MAKE LEMON CREAM CHEESE POUND CAKE
Even with the added lemon simple syrup soak, this lemon cream cheese pound cake is simple to make. It takes a while to bake, but it only takes a few minutes to prep, so your hands-on time is really short.
Ingredients you’ll need
This cake is still made up primarily of the main 4 pound cake ingredients, but has a couple of added ingredients for that tangy flavor. You will need:
- Room temperature cream cheese: This recipe adds some cream cheese to the butter for a bit of extra tanginess. Make sure your cream cheese is soft before starting. I have some tips for how to soften cream cheese if you forgot to set it out ahead of time.
- Room temperature butter: Just like with the cream cheese, make sure your butter is at room temperature before you start baking. Learn how to bring butter and eggs to room temperature.
- Lemon zest and juice: In addition to the lemon zest of the original version, I added lemon juice to the batter and to the simple syrup soak.
- Granulated sugar: We’ll use granulated sugar in this recipe. Learn about the types of sugar and what makes them different.
- Large eggs: Like I mentioned above, this cake relies on lots of eggs for it to rise, so they’re a must in this recipe. You’ll need 6 large eggs.
- All-purpose flour: I recommend knowing how to measure flour correctly before you get started so this cake turns out perfect every time.
- Vanilla extract: I like adding a bit of vanilla to nearly all of my baked goods. It helps round out the flavor and it balances the lemon nicely in this recipe.
- Lemon extract: I added a teaspoon of lemon extract to my lemon cream cheese pound cake to give it even more flavor. If you don’t have lemon extract, you can omit it from the recipe.
Making this recipe
Start by buttering and flouring your favorite bundt pan to help the cake release after it has baked. You will also need to preheat your oven to 325°F.
Yes, this cake bakes at a slightly lower temperature than a lot of cakes – that’s on purpose!
Using a mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together until they are smooth.
In a separate bowl, use your fingertips to mix together the sugar and the lemon zest until the sugar is moistened and smells super lemony. This will really help get the oils from the zest all throughout the cake.
Add the lemon sugar to the butter mixture and beat for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Don’t try to rush this step.
Add the eggs, two at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. Add the flour and mix until well combined, then add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon extract and mix to combine.
Scoop the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about 1 ½ hours. I recommend starting to check for doneness around the 1-hour mark, though, just in case your oven bakes faster.
Let the cake cool in the bundt pan for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cake comes out of the oven, add all of the simple syrup ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Brush this all over the cake while it is still warm.
Store your lemon cream cheese pound cake, covered, at room temperature for up to 3-4 days.
If you’d like, you can freeze the cake as well. I personally recommend freezing it in slices.
Slice the cake and wrap each slice in plastic wrap, then store the wrapped slices in a zip-top freezer bag. Freeze for 1-2 months.
When you’re ready to enjoy a slice of lemon cream cheese pound cake, simply take out as many slices as you like. They can thaw at room temperature or you can place the unwrapped slices on a plate and microwave for 30-60 seconds to both thaw and warm them through.
Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter room temperature
- zest of 4 lemons
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract optional
For the Lemon syrup
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest and mix together with your fingertips until the sugar is moistened and fragrant. Add the sugar mixture gradually to the butter and beat on medium speed until light fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add eggs two at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the flour all at once and mix in. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon extract and mix thoroughly.
- Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 325°F for 1 hour and 25 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. Check for doneness at 1 hour. A toothpick inserted into center of cake will come out clean. Let cool in pan a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cake is cooling, make the syrup. Bring sugar, water, and lemon juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Brush all over the cake while still warm.
Monday 24th of April 2023
I made this cake last night for a lunch today. Absolutely delicious! I made it according to your directions but skipped the powdered sugar because I had strawberries in the freezer that I needed to use up. It got rave reviews, and will be made over and over again. Yummmmm!!
Thursday 27th of April 2023
I'm so happy to hear that, Pat! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback. Happy baking! Jamie
Sunday 16th of April 2023
This sounds wonderful! Have you ever made a gluten free version, and would you recommend a different measurement if using gluten free flour?
Monday 17th of April 2023
Hi Tamara – I have not attempted this recipe with that substitution, so I can't attest to the results. If you give it a try, I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Happy baking! Jamie
Tuesday 11th of April 2023
I made this for Easter dinner and it was so delicious. I ended up adding a icing sugar/lemon juice glaze on top. This recipe is a keeper and will definitely be making it again! Another great recipe!!
Thursday 13th of April 2023
So glad to hear it, Andrea! Thanks so much for sharing. Happy baking! Jamie
Tuesday 11th of April 2023
I'm very disappointed. The cake, once baked, separated. The top which becomes the bottom when flipped, totally separated from the cake leaving approximately an inch of space between the cake and the delicious crust. The cake was VERY dense.
Thursday 13th of April 2023
Hi Rhapsody – I'm so sorry to hear that. I've tested this recipe multiple times and have had many different people test and make it without trouble, so I'm not sure what might have gone wrong for you, as I've never heard of a pound cake doing this. Perhaps another commenter might have an idea for you. -Jamie
Saturday 8th of April 2023
Great recipe. Easy to make and delicious.
Monday 10th of April 2023
So glad you enjoyed, Nancy! Thanks for sharing your feedback. Happy baking! Jamie