Lemon Cake Loaf is so easy to make, and packed full of sweet and tart lemon flavor!  The simple crumb topping and lemon glaze send this cake over the top!

lemon cake

The Best Lemon Loaf:

Lemon loaf, similar to a lemon pound cake, is a sweet citrus dessert. Both the cake base and the icing are infused with fresh lemon juice or lemon zest, adding a light flavor throughout the dessert.  This lemon cake took several attempts to get it just right. When making a loaf cake, there is a special art to getting the consistency just right. Dense but not dry, moist but not oily. There should be a bit of a spongy texture, though not completely wet.

The biggest “rule” to this cake turning out perfectly is to follow the recipe exactly without making too many swaps!  This recipe is one example where changing out ingredients, or the conditions of the ingredients, may truly change the recipe. There are a few similar variations to this recipe that produce a good cake but the best ones I’ve tried have come from following this recipe exactly. Melted butter instead of cold butter, for example, would change the crumb topping.  If you’re looking for more easy cakes, try our Lemon Blueberry Cake and Coconut Lime Ricotta Cake too!

lemon loaf cake glaze

The second secret to making this perfect, is to mix the ingredients well without over mixing. This is part of the reason I recommend the paddle attachment on a stand mixer. Alternating between adding the sour cream (or greek yogurt) and the dry ingredients, combining between each addition, also helps. Once all ingredients are mixed well, stop mixing.  While this recipe does have a fun drizzle, I also decided to also add an additional layer to the loaf – a crumb topping. This is a simple topping, with butter, flour, sugar and more lemon zest, that adds a bit of crunchy texture to each slice.

Lemon Cake Tips & Tricks

If you’d like, you can swap out Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream!  The flavors and texture are super similar, so it won’t change the texture of the cake.
As you add in the flour and the sour cream, be sure to combine thoroughly but do not over mix the batter.
Be sure to use cold butter for the crumb topping!
Allow the cake to completely cool before icing.

lemon cake slice



5 from 13 votes

Lemon Cake Loaf

Lemon Cake Loaf is so easy to make, and packed full of sweet and tart lemon flavor!  The simple crumb topping and lemon glaze send this cake over the top!
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 1 hour 19 minutes
Total 1 hour 34 minutes
Servings 12 Slices





  • 1 & ½ Cups Powdered Sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice fresh squeezed



  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 inch loaf pan with baking spray, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Start on low speed until incorporated, set to medium speed and mix for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. The mixture will be a light color. Add in the egg, lemon zest, vanilla, and lemon juice, stir to combine, scrape down the sides as needed.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and stir in to combine. Add in half of the sour cream, stir in to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour, then sour cream. Scrape down the sides then mix again for about 15 seconds so everything is combined.
  • Pour into the prepared loaf pan and spread out the top evenly.


  • Place everything into a medium sized bowl. Using your fingers, roll the butter with the other ingredients through your fingertips over and over until the mixture resembles wet sand with some larger pieces running through it.
  • Pour this over the cake batter, use everything! Bake for 60-70 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert the pan and let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.


  • Place all of the ingredients into a small bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle over the whole cake or slice the cake and drizzle the glaze over the slices.


Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Like this? Rate & review this recipe below!

Hey! Nice to meet you! I'm Nichole!

Welcome to The Salty Marshmallow! I'm a mom, animal lover, photographer, & kitchen mess-maker. Here you will find the result of my decades-long passion for chasing the best flavors in the kitchen, all meant to be cooked by regular people with busy lives just like you and me.

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  1. The recipe is great. cafe level flavour, i added a 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme !

    I have to say one hour and 19 minutes was way too much time. I burned my loaf.
    Next time i believe 50 mins would do it.

  2. Love your recipes and definitely plan to try this one. Just a quick question and a weird request.

    Do you think it would compromise the moisture of the cake if I increased the zest considerably, I really love the taste and tartness of lemon.

    If possible can you post metric measurements for your recipes? Personally I prefer baking in metric for consistency. If not that’s understandable too.

    1. I have a measuring cup that has metric measurements on it, so easy to follow recipes without having to figure conversions.

  3. I tried the lemon cake loaf and wondered if the quantities for the glaze were correct. I had to add more lemon juice and then 2 tbsp ofmilk

    1. Hi! My apologies, there was a typo with the amount of lemon juice. It is updated for you now. Thanks for bringing that to our attention 🙂