Starbucks’ Iced Lemon Pound Cake

Lemon zest and juice makes all edible items brighter: hot tea, roasted vegetables, baked goods, alcohol, salad, yogurt. I challenge you — what does NOT taste better with lemon? While you ponder deep thoughts, lemme share this copycat recipe for Starbucks’ lemon pound cake. It’s killer: zingy, dense, sweet, soft. I froze half of my original loaf and thawed it a couple weeks later — still delicious.

Yesterday I sampled the original loaf at Starbucks while shopping with a friend — and I have to say that this recipe is actually better. My version has more icing, less grease, less thud in the stomach and less guilt. Apparently we all owe Todd Wilbur our thanks for tinkering to find the secret ingredient: lemon extract. I made a few tweaks, but the basics are his.

“It would take quite a bit of real lemon juice to give this moist cake loaf clone the perfect lemony tang of the original. To avoid producing a batter that’s too runny, we must turn to lemon extract that can be found near vanilla extract in your supermarket. This concentrated lemon flavoring works well with real lemon juice to give us the intense lemon flavor we need. Plus this extract adds just the right amount of lemon goodness to the icing without thinning it out.”

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS salted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
zest of 1 lemon

Lemon Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 TBS milk or milk-product, if needed, for blending to smoothness. (My lactose-intolerant self used coconut milk).
1/2 tsp+ lemon extract
1 tsp lemon juice
zest of one lemon


1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Use an electric mixer (or Kitchen Aid) to blend together eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon zest  & lemon juice in a large bowl.

2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt in a medium bowl. Add dry ingredient into wet ingredients & blend until smooth. Add oil and mix well.

3. Pour ingredients into a well-greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. I also lined mine with parchment paper — optional. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean.

4. Make the lemon icing by combining ingredients in a small bowl with electric mixer on low speed. I used my immersion blender instead for efficiency’s sake — or laziness. For me, the icing makes this cake. It’s not a thin glaze; it’s a stand up straight and melt-in-your-mouth icing.

5. When the lemon loaf is cool, remove it from the pan & frost the top with the lemon icing. When the icing has set up, slice the loaf into eight 1-inch-thick slices. It seriously looks and tastes and delights as much as the original. Rock on, lemon luxuriousness.

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