I have tried and tried numerous recipes for lemon pound cake. None of them taste very lemony. I tried adding extra lemons n lemon extract but no real difference. The only thing to make it taste like lemon is the glaze. What am I doing wrong?

  • 10
    Have you tried adding lemon zest along with the lemons and extract? It's also available dried (called lemon peel granules in this form), which might make more intense taste if used with the other forms of lemon to sort of layer the flavor. Oct 27, 2012 at 6:44

9 Answers 9


The 'lemony' flavour in a lemon cake is from the volatile oils which are present in the fruit's zest,(mainly nerol, limonene and citral). I would'nt advise adding actual lemon juice to the cake as it will disrupt the ratios in the cake recipe and ususally the tart, zingy flavour gets lost anyway after baking. To get a really lemony flavour whilst still using a pound cake recipe (using the creaming method) there are several things which would enhance the lemon flavour:

  • Adding finely grated lemon zest to the sugar, then blitzing with a blender (to release the oils) and leaving to infuse. The sugar is simply a medium to infuse into
  • Melting the butter (using it as a 'quasi' solvent) and adding it to some more lemon zest to infuse. Then once cooled use it as per the recipe requires.
  • Add lemon extract too (we're trying to get as much flavour as possible into the cake!)

And if all else fails, you can always soak the cake in a lovely tangy lemon syrup and may be top it off with some lemony cream cheese frosting!

  • 2
    By "blitz" do you mean using a blender? If so, does using a blender on a mixture of something finely grated and something which comes in small crystals really make any difference? Oct 28, 2012 at 8:55
  • 1
    @PeterTaylor Yes, with a blender. All blitzing does is release the natural oils, and the sugar is just another medium for them to infuse them into. Oct 28, 2012 at 9:15

I know of three ways to add extra lemon flavor to recipes:

  1. Add lemon pudding like this copycat recipe for Starbuck's lemon poundcake:
    Starbucks Iced Lemon Pound Cake Copycat Recipe

  2. Use frozen lemonade concentrate instead of lemon juice

  3. as Marge suggested, add grated lemon rind. Fresh is good, dried is more intense.

My mother's cherished lemon-nut bread recipe, which uses dried grated lemon peel, actually requires the bread to be wrapped and refrigerated overnight to "cure" the flavors after it is baked.

  • The 'curing's' a great idea, but I worry that for pound cake recipes that include chemical rising agents, after a night in the fridge they may not have any rising left in them Oct 28, 2012 at 8:20
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    @sebiddychef, the curing period comes after the cake is baked. Excellent observation - I'll edit my answer. Oct 28, 2012 at 10:14

This post is years old but I added 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice per 200g of flour and it turned out amazing. Super pronounced lime flavor. The recipe asked for 1/3 cup of buttermilk or sour cream but I didn't have any. Hope it helps.


Lemon emulsion is especially designed for baking as it won't "bake out" like a juice or flavoring. If you are using an Lemon Extract, be sure it is all natural and has no added sweetener, like corn syrup. I found baking emulsions on line from a company called Lorann Professional Kitchen and the size was 4 oz....not a pint or quart like most bakery supply


Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Add some limoncello to the batter
  • After baking and initial cooling: Apply a lemon sugar syrup. Use a skewer to make holes in the cake. Pour over the lemon syrup.
  • Use lemon curd as a topping

Here is an example of a recipe with lemon syrup.


Boyajian lemon oil... Only use a few drops. Won't affect the recipe texture. Pure flavor. Probably find at Whole Foods, New Seasons, etc. My Costco has it also.


The strength of that lemon twang comes from the essential oils of the lemon and the acid in the lemon (which is why the icing is sooooo GREAT!). Unfortunately the acid will all be reacted and evaporated out by the time you finish baking anything. However, the oils will not have evaporated or reacted with the air.

The oils predominantly come from the zest or skin. The most effective way to get the strongest lemony flavour in baking will be to use a juicer to completely strip all the oils out of the entire lemon, then boil it down to a thick syrup. The skin is very bitter, but with some sugar you should be able to bring out a great tangy lemon flavour. Remember, chocolate comes from a very bitter substance too but we love eating it all the time! =D

You will end up with a very intense lemon syrup for use in various baking. Make sure to practice your baking mixtures a couple times to get the consistencies correct. The thickness of the syrup should help a lot not to water down any recipe you are following, rather than just adding lemon juice (which, like most fresh produce, has heaps of water in it).

  • err... I think it'd take a heckova lot of peels for a juicer to work, a single lemon peel might or might not produce a full drop (assumed, I admit). I think there's too much dry bulk and too little liquid for a juicer, might have better luck with an oil extractor like for sunflower seeds. Even then it'd take literal pounds of just peels to get enough oil for boiling down (?!). Did you mean to juice the whole lemons, and boil down the juice whatever oil might be extracted from the peel during juicing? And if so, do you find it gives a better result than directly zesting lemons into a recipe?
    – Megha
    Sep 23, 2019 at 2:50

Lemon cake does have flavor. All you need to do is just probably add more lemons and sugar.

  • 1
    Are you suggesting that adding sugar will add flavor, or just to add lemon juice and balance it with sugar? (It's really the zest that matters for flavor.) I'm not sure if you're trying to say anything that the other answers didn't already say.
    – Cascabel
    May 31, 2013 at 17:31

Add lemon curd to your cake mixture

  • 1
    Could you explain how to do that without otherwise affecting the recipe. Do you blend the curd into the batter? Add it to the pan as a filling while pouring the batter? Marble it into the batter?
    – Caleb
    May 31, 2017 at 4:51

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