Lemon zest and lemon juice are added to the batter, which lightly perfumes the cake with lemon. Then, while the cake is still warm from the oven, it is doused with lemon syrup to further enhance the lemon flavor. Finally, the cake is drizzled with a tart lemon glaze, which adds a pop of intense lemon flavor to every bite. The cake keeps well for days and is actually best made a day ahead of time. Butter sauce, a boiled concoction of butter, sugar, and vanilla. When you pour it over the hot cake and then let the cake cool it soaks in and the cake stays moist for days – plus it adds SO much flavor.

The final point about this loaf is that it needs only one large lemon and pretty much typical pantry and fridge items to make it. This lemon loaf freezes beautifully. Freeze it whole in a freezer bag, or slice it first and freeze it. Slicing first means you can grab a slice when you feel the need, instead of trying to cut/thaw a slice from a frozen whole loaf. To thaw a slice, simply set a frozen slice on the counter on a piece of paper towel and it will be ready to enjoy in 20-30 minutes.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Garnish: confectioners sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour an 8-by 2-inch round cake pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir together milk, zest, and vanilla.
  3. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into cake pan and smooth top, then rap gently on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes.
  7. Whisk together confectioners sugar and lemon juice until smooth.
  8. Turn out cake onto a rack set over a baking sheet, then reinvert. Brush top and side of cake with all the glaze.