If you love lemons and you love pound cake, this Famous Ritz Carlton Lemon Pound Cake recipe is calling your name! This old-fashioned pound cake is as popular today as it was in the 1920s. Make it yourself to see why!
Homemade Lemon Pound Cake
I love an excellent pound cake. Moist and dense, it cuts cleanly. It must be all the butter! (Can one go wrong with butter?) It goes perfectly well served alongside a scoop of vanilla or dulce de leche ice cream, whipped cream, and lemon curd.
I am a big fan of pound cakes and made several other pound cake recipes. I like to make them as the seasons change so I can use different seasonal fruits: Blueberry Pound Cake, Glazed Lemon, and Sugared Cranberry. Each is unique and I don’t like playing favorites. But if you ask me today, this Ritz Carlton Lemon Pound Cake is one of the greats.
What Is Pound Cake, Exactly?
Homemade Lemon Pound Cake is one of those classic baking recipes every home chef needs in their arsenal of recipes. Originating in the 1700s, this recipe called for a pound each of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. As you can imagine, that was a dense cake.
It would seem like the amount of heavy, wet ingredients in this cake — like the 5 eggs, milk, and cup and a half of butter and vegetable shortening — would weigh it down or cause it not to rise. However, something magical happens in the baking process that results in a fluffy cake with a fine crumb that melts in your mouth with each bite!
What Makes This Ritz Carlton Lemon Pound Cake Recipe Famous?
The recipe for this 1920 Famous Ritz Carlton Lemon Pound Cake recipe has been floating around the internet for years. I love that the recipe is simple. But the first time I made this 1920 Famous Ritz Carlton Lemon Pound Cake Recipe, I somehow doubled the shortening. I didn’t even realize about the extra half cup of shortening until my kitchen started filling with smoke about halfway through the baking time. The excess oil seeped out of the tube pan, burning on the bottom of the oven. So, do as I say (and not as I did!).
I like to drizzle this Lemon Pound Cake with fresh lemon slices and mint, but a powdered sugar glaze, fresh berries, lemon curd, freshly whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream would also be delicious! This Lemon Pound Cake recipe is a classic dessert that’s super easy to make for any occasion. It’s perfect for get-togethers with family and friends, holidays (especially Easter and Christmas), and birthdays!
- Butter + Shortening: You’ll need one cup of butter and half a cup of vegetable shortening for this recipe. The butter adds a ton of rich flavor and beautiful yellow color to the pound cake. And the shortening hels the top get crisp and gives this pound cake it signature dense crumb.
- Sugar: Use white, granulated sugar for this recipe. It creams well with the butter for a light, fluffy texture. And it won’t change the color of the cake like brown sugar would.
- Eggs: True to its name, you’ll need 5 eggs for this pound cake recipe. Add them one at a time to make sure they’re incorporated into the batter.
- Dry Ingredients: Whisk or sift together your all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate before adding to the batter.
- Cake Flour: Cake flour inherently contains less protein than all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour, which means less gluten formation and a bouncier sponge cake texture. It also contains the leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder, as well as salt.
- Heavy Whipped Cream: Just half of a cup keeps this pound cake moist with a fine crumb, and keeps it from drying out.
- Lemon Zest + Lemon Juice: You’ll need both fresh lemon zest and juice for this Lemon Pound Cake recipe. Make sure to wash your lemons well and roll them on the counter before zesting and juicing. This ensures that you’ll get the most juice from your lemons.
- Whole Milk: Alternate one cup of whole milk, or a half cup of milk plus a half cup of heavy whipping cream (or just a cup of half-and-half) with the dry ingredients, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
- Garnish: Decorate your Ritz Carlton Pound Cake with thin lemon slices, fresh mint leaves, and/or a powdered sugar glaze made from whisking together milk or heavy cream, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
How To Make the Best Lemon Pound Cake
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and prepare your tube pan or bundt pan by greasing with butter or shortening and dusting with flour to prevent the pound cake from sticking.
- Next, in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment attached, cream your room temperature unsalted butter with the shortening and sugar until creamy and smooth. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so everything can get nicely incorporated.
- Next, it’s time to add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with flour. (Pro tip: you always want to start with the dry ingredients and end with the dry ingredients when alternating with the wet ingredients.) Mix just until combined after each addition. It’s OK to see some streaks of flour.
- Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer, and gently (but thoroughly) fold in the lemon juice and lemon zest by hand with a spatula.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well until incorporated after each addition.
- Pour the batter into a previously greased pan, and bake anywhere from 55-70 minutes or until the cake gets golden brown on the top. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for few minutes. Then, gently separate the cake from the pan and transfer the cake on a rack.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Garnish with mint and lemon, serve by the slice, and enjoy!
Tips for Making the Best Lemon Pound Cake
- Measure all the ingredients carefully beforehand, and have them at room temperature — especially the butter and eggs in this case — to prevent lumps.
- For a tender cake, don’t over-mix the batter. Mix on low speed and until ingredients are just incorporated.
- Bake on your middle oven rack, and start checking at the 55-minute mark, but if the top isn’t even golden brown, don’t open your oven yet. (Opening and closing the oven to check a cake before it’s done causes it to fall.)
- Grease and flour a bundt pan or tube cake pan so that the cake doesn’t stick to the sides. A tube cake pan has two pieces which makes it simple to remove the cake.
- Cool the cake before removing it from the pan. Gently loosen the sides with a knife, then lift out the middle piece. Run your knife around the center tube and between the bottom of the cake to loosen.
More Cake Recipes To Try
- Sugared Cranberry Pound Cake
- Candied Lemon Cheese Cake
- Brick Street Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate Cupcakes
- Lemon Pound Cake
- Blueberry Pound Cake
- Candied Lemon Cheesecake
1920 Famous Ritz Carlton Lemon Pound Cake Recipe
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup shortening at room temperature
- 5 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Grease and flour a tube pan (angel food cake pan) or Bundt pan. Set aside.
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Using an electric or stand mixer, cream together butter, shortening and sugar.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add dry ingredients in three additions to butter mixture alternately with half of the milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
- Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition.
- Gently stir in lemon juice and zest.
- Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake cake in 350° oven until cake is golden on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 55 - 70 minutes. (Start checking at the 55 minute mark.)
- Be careful not to open the oven if you don't think it's finished baking. (Opening the oven prematurely could cause the cake to fall.)
- Cool cake in pan.
- Using a sharp knife, gently separate cake from cake pan edges wherever you can, including around the center tube.
- Turn cake out onto rack.
- Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or a spoonful of lemon curd.
Karla Holley | Moderate Home says
Allie, this looks SO delicious! I can smell the lemon zest, now! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I will have to give the cranberry a try, too! I just realized after I changed my blog name and email address, I forgot to go back and subscribe to THLG. I have subscribed with my new email now so I will get every post again. I don’t want to miss it!
Oh my word this looks delicious!!! I’m a sucker for anything lemon so I can’t wait to try this!!
So many practical and valuable hints for successful baking. I’m one to frequently open the oven door while baking—now I know why my cakes are less than voluptuous!
Thanks for all the great tips!
So why did the pound cake turn brown on the inside ? I followed the recipe to the tee
Jeff the Chef says
I was thinking this cake was somehow going to have Ritz crackers in it. No matter, I want this cake!
Susie Mandel says
My, oh my…I can’t wait. 🙂
Shashi at SavorySpin says
Oh Allie – the texture on this pound cake is insane! Clearly Ive been doing pound cakes all wrong! Wow ! I’d love to sink my teeth into a slice of this with whipped cream and lemon curd! So glad you didn’t give up after smoking your new kitchen – I once made a cake where I added in salt instead of sugar, took it to get together only to find out my mishap and then I proceeded to retire that recipe forever! Hoping you and your family are having a wonderful summer… xoxo
Followed all instructions..but my cake sank..of course I did not use lemon juice used 2 tbsp vanilla extract instead..wld that make a difference..any suggestions..thanx..
Vanilla extract is NEVER a substitute for lemon juice or any other fruit juice – EVER.
This cake was delicious I made it twice and added lemon glaze to top it off.
So glad you you made this!!!! Thanks so much for dropping by Shelia, and Happy New Year!
Was it kinda/little bit Gooey in the middle?
SO glad you enjoyed it! Just a little background on the recipe, it isn’t the really the 1920 Famous Ritz Carlton Lemon Pound Cake. I got the recipe at a cooking school held at the Amelia Island Ritz Carlton in 2011. Someone on Pinterest made up the 1920 bit. Sounds good, but unfortunately it isn’t true. It is still a wonderful pound cake. It has been my go-to pound cake since I got the recipe.
Hi Stephanie, so glad you dropped by. I didn’t get the recipe from your site, but thanks so much for this great information and I’ll definitely pop by your site. I’ve been to Amelia Island and it’s beautiful, lucky you to take classes there. Happy New Year!
I made this cake today. I was trying out my new convection oven. It was a golden brown when I took it out and tested with toothpick. When after about 3 minutes on cooling rack it sunk! What did I do wrong? Maybe convection baking is different?
Oh how disappointing Debbi. I’m really sorry to hear that, so frustrating. Yes, a convection oven definitely cooks differently. I always use a regular conventional oven for baking unless the recipe specifically calls for a convection oven. You have to adjust the cooking time and temperature if you use a convection oven for a recipe that is written for a regular oven. Here is an article about how to convert recipes for use with a convection oven. https://www.gourmetsleuth.com/articles/detail/convection-cooking-adjustments I have had some success converting cake recipes myself, but a few times I have had the same experience as you using a convection oven, even when I was following the conversion directions exactly to a T. Supposedly a convection oven cooks things more evenly, that is what I have been told, because there is a fan involved and the air is being circulated around for a more even temperature. One other thought about what happened, is that your oven may not be calibrated correctly. Especially if it is new. I have a new double oven and the top oven cooks things perfectly and the bottom oven seems to run about 25 degrees hot, maybe even a little hotter. The manual of your oven should tell you how to calibrate the oven to make sure it is truly cooking at the temperature you set it. You can buy an oven thermometer very inexpensively that will tell you what temp. the oven actually is. If you’re interested in using your convection oven to make another cake, I have a great recipe that gets rave reviews that is written specifically for a convection oven, The Famous Brick Street Chocolate Cake. Here’s the link: https://www.throughherlookingglass.com/brick-street-chocolate-cake/ Hope you enjoy and good luck!!!!
Mine did the same thing. I too have a convection oven.
Sometimes a cake will sink if you’ve overmixed. Another reason could be how long the cake sits while you preheat the oven. And, check your baking powder, too. Thanks British Baking Show!
My family and friend LOVE this cake. I’ve made this cake twice in the past couple of months and
always bake using the convection setting on my oven. I had to bake it for 70+ minutes but it turned out perfect. I bake it in a heavy bunt pan, though. Maybe that makes a difference.
Sonya Bonilla says
I just made this cake too and at first it rose beautifully, but alas, it sunk down!
Dirithea Salzberg says
This recipe call butter and shorting. Do you use more butter for shorting?
Hi Dirithea – I use 1 cup unsalted butter and then 1/2 cup vegetable shortening – like Crisco. Does that answer your question? Let me know, and thanks for dropping by.
Can you use all butter.
I’m not sure, haven’t tried that Nita. Sorry I don’t know – but this recipe is one that’s been around on the web for quite some time… so I haven’t messed with it. But if you try it with all butter, would love to hear how it comes out. I’m making this for my Mom’s #80 birthday in a few weeks. Thanks for dropping by.
Myra Wilson says
I used all butter and substituted the whole milk for buttermilk because I love the flavor of buttermilk. I also added vanilla and lemon flavor to the recipe. I never was good at leaving good enough alone, so I also added a pack of lemon pudding and an extra 1/2 cup of buttermilk. My icing was whipped creamcheese with sugar and the juice of lemon. My version was to die for.
Joyce Estes says
I made this cake today and I am very disappointed with it. I followed your instructions exactly!!! The cake rose too much and spilled over the side of the Bundt cake pan. It also sunk in the middle, so I looked up other pound cake recipes and none call for baking power!! The oven temperature on the other pound cake recipes said to to preheat the oven to 325 degrees….
D. Shar says
This is an AWESOME recipe. Can this be used for miniature cakes? And if so, what temperature to bake them on? Thanks
Thanks so much! I’m sure you cld make it into miniature cakes, that would be so nice for holiday gifts. I’ve not done that with this recipe yet, so do not have recommendations. But if it were me, I’d keep temperature the same, cut down bake time significantly, and watch closely very early on to make sure I didn’t over bake. Happy baking and Merry Christmas!
Vianne Bower says
Help am I reading something gwrong? It says mix 1/2 of the milk with dry ingredients – what do you do with the other half?
Martha Collins says
I just made this cake for my husbands birthday.
Am serving it tonight with lemon sherbet & limoncello I brought back from Rome!
Can’t wait to taste & sip❤️
Hi i was wondering if you can use cake flour instead of All Purpose?
First attempt at this cake..don’t know how it will turn out but my kitchen smells delicious!
I have made in large loaf tin and found l had enough mixture to make several cupcakes too..can’t wait to try !
Well my cake is out..cooling. looks glorious. My little cup cakes have been given a lemon glaze . Eating while still warm. This is the lightest cup cake l have ever made, simply delicious. !
The only adjustment l made to recipe was to reduce sugar to 2 cups instead of 3.
I think l read somewhere too much sugar can cause cakes to sink..just a thought x
So glad it was a hit Janet, makes me smile to think of you enjoying it!
Ray Lindsay says
I’m new at baking and will try this reciepe. All these ingredients sound wonderful but i’ve been researching lemon cake reciepes and most all use lemon extract and vinalla extract. I love lemon taste so by not adding these extracts will it take away from the lemon taste? Just curious.
Michelle B. says
Can you use all butter instead of a combination of butter and shortening?
Oh my goodness! My sweet friend has been asking me to make a Lemon pound cake forever. Well I finally searched for a recipe and found the one that you put on Pinterest. I made the cake yesterday and I should’ve taken a picture of it because it’s all gone! I have been making pancakes all my life well, almost and this is the best one I have ever made. I made a lemon sauce to go with it but it doesn’t even need a sauce. It is delicious I am making another one tomorrow! Thank you!
I wanted to ask what is shortening? Not really understand. Thanks
Sorry Flora, somehow I missed this comment. Vegetable shortening is like Crisco – basically hydrogenated vegetable oil, often used in baking as a substitute for butter or margarine.
Thanksgiving Fail says
Unfortunately had this recipe fail 2x. Went back to review and found in upper part of instructions for how to make the best pound cake it says to preheat to 300 however recipe says 350. Didn’t see the 350 bc I had already done the 300 😔
What a shame Anita, I am SO sorry to hear this and of your ruined cakes. One of my assistants recently went in to edit this recipe and the 300° is a typo. It should say 350°. I have edited it myself to say 350. Please accept my apologies.
The recipe shows a baking temperature of 300 degrees and 350 degrees. Which is it?
I actually baked it at 300 degrees and it took about 2 hours.
Sorry Pat, that was a typo. I’ve just gone in and edited the recipe to say 350° consistently. I’m glad you kept it in the oven longer and the cake wasn’t ruined.