This Lemon Loaf Cake is incredible! Lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon syrup give this cake tons of flavor. It bakes up moist with a tender crumb and is topped with a thick layer of lemon cream cheese frosting. No need to wait for a special occasion, this loaf cake is the perfect “anytime” treat. Try the blueberry version, too: Lemon Blueberry Bread.
If you’re thinking this cake looks familiar you are right. After recently updating my Lemon Coconut Cake, I decided to make a coconut-free version for the times we want a pure and simple lemon cake.
If you’re a fan of lemon desserts you are going to love every bite of this soft and tender, super flavorful Lemon Loaf Cake. It is absolutely bursting with lemon flavor.
- Cake: This butter-based cake is flavored with lemon zest, lemon juice, and a touch of almond extract (my secret ingredient). Buttermilk helps to keep the cake moist and works well with the tang of fresh lemon. The cake is prepared using a stand or hand mixer and it is baked in a 9×5 loaf pan.
- Lemon syrup: After baking, the cake gets brushed with a syrup made from lemon juice, water, and sugar. This lemon syrup is absorbed into the cake, adding another layer of lemon flavor (more on this below).
- Frosting: This small batch lemon cream cheese frosting recipe is just enough to cover the top of the loaf cake. It is sweet and tangy and it tastes fantastic paired with lemon cake.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Flavor: Fresh lemon, a touch of almond extract, and sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting.
- Texture: The cake is slightly dense (like a pound cake) with a moist crumb.
- Ease: No fancy techniques or ingredients. This cake batter comes together in about 15 minutes.
- Size: This loaf cake serves 6-10, which makes it perfect for small gatherings or enjoying as a snack cake.
The addition of almond extract makes this cake taste like it came from a bakery. The smooth and sweet flavor of almond extract pairs wonderfully with the bright and fresh flavor of lemon. Be sure sure to use pure almond extract, not imitation flavoring.
In order to get the maximum of amount lemon flavor I brush/pour lemon syrup on the outside of the cake when it is still warm. The cake will absorb the syrup and it will add another layer of lemon flavor. Bonus: The lemon syrup also keeps the cake moist. Even the edges (which can sometime be dry on a loaf cake) are soft and moist.
Tip: I use a small spoon to pour/drizzle the syrup on the top of the cake and I use a pastry brush to add syrup to the sides.
You can use one of these buttermilk substitutes. I have the best luck with the kefir, yogurt, or sour cream options.
I recommend at least 3 medium-large lemons.
Sure. I would recommend replacing it with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
You may freeze slices of this Lemon Loaf Cake for up to 1 month. I think this cake is best when freshly baked, but if you have a couple slices leftover feel free to put them in the freezer for another day.
Serving and storage
Serving: Serve this cake at room temperature. The crumb is more tender and moist when the cake is at room temp.
Storage: This cake can be stored tightly covered at cool room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerated for up to 4 days.
More lemon recipes
Lemon Loaf Cake
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, plus more, if needed
- 1-2 drops pure almond extract
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more, if needed
- Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and, salt.
- In a separate bowl, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (preferred) or a hand mixer beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beater as necessary. After both eggs have been added beat in the almond extract.
- In a liquid measuring cup combine the buttermilk and lemon juice.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk into the butter mixture. Add one third dry ingredients, beat until almost combined. Add half buttermilk, beat until almost fully combined. Follow with half of the remaining dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk, then the remaining dry ingredients. Beat between each addition until just combined and scrape the bowl and beater as needed. Once everything has been added, beat the whole mixture on medium-high speed for about 15 seconds.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (be careful not to overbake). Rotate the pan halfway through bake time to ensure even browning. Place the pan on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Proceed with the syrup.
- In a glass measuring cup or bowl, heat lemon juice, water, and sugar in the microwave until the sugar dissolves, about 30 seconds. Stir well.
- After the cake has cooled for 15 minutes, carefully remove it from the pan (I run a thin knife around the outside, between the cake and pan). Place the cake on the wire rack. Place a paper towel or wax paper under the wire rack. Brush/drizzle the lemon syrup on the top and sides of the warm cake, allowing it to soak in. Cool completely.
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until combined. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and almond extract, beat until combined. Adjust the consistency by adding more lemon juice to thin or powdered sugar to thicken. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. If desired, you can sprinkle some finely grated lemon zest on top.
Nutritional Information is an estimate based on third-party calculations and may vary based on products used and serving sizes.