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Vegan Lemon Pound Cake (Gluten Free and Sugar Free options)

Combine the brightness of fresh lemon zest with the most tender and moist cake you can imagine, drizzle a sweet glaze on top, and then apologize to all your other dessert recipes because you will never need them again.  This vegan lemon pound cake is the perfect addition to any party or tea time, and no one will ever know it’s vegan and gluten free!

Artistic photo of many slices of the cake surrounded by slices of lemon

Pound cake is a funny thing to make on a vegan and gluten free baking site.  The actual definition of pound cake is a pound of each of eggs, flour, butter, and sugar.  Well, on this blog I never use eggs, milk-based butter, or glutenous flour.  But we’ve got sugar! One out of four ain’t bad, right?!  Thankfully the modern world has provided us with alternatives that allow for this wonderful cake to exist, and I can still call it a “pound cake” without feeling like a total liar. 

I love this vegan lemon pound cake.  Not only is it insanely delicious, but it is soft, moist, bursting with lemony goodness, and I think it’s secretly magical because the first time I got the recipe right I was eating it for nearly a week with very little change in texture over the course of the days.  I think it’s so yummy it doesn’t even need the icing over the top, but hey I never turn down an opportunity for a beautiful and sweet glaze.

Quick note on lemon juice vs lemon zest..

If you have made other lemon cakes before, you may notice one clear difference in what I do here – aside from a little lemon juice used to make buttermilk, I don’t use any lemon juice in the batter.  I tried this cake a ton of different ways, and found that the delicious bright, zesty, lemony flavor really comes mostly from the zest. 

Yes of course the juice provides lemon flavor too, but I think it’s a very delicate balance between getting lemon flavor, vs going a touch too far in how much juice is added and having it taste sour.  Since there is nothing worse than putting together a whole cake, waiting an hour for it to bake, an hour for it to cool, then finding out it’s too sour from lemon juice.. I thought the safest bet here was go for the zest.  Use the juice in the glaze over the top if you want more lemon flavor, this way you have more control of how much you are adding as you go!

And speaking of going, let’s get to it!!

Close up photo of the cake on a cutting board

How To Make It:

This vegan lemon pound cake recipe uses vegan butter as the fat, and you want it to be room temperature and fairly soft, so take it out of the fridge early that way you’re not impatiently staring at it, willing it to soften faster.  Go!  Get it out now so you can be eating cake soon!!

Aside from letting the butter soften, the only advance prep that needs to be done is curdling the non-dairy milk into vegan buttermilk.  Haven’t done this before? It’s so easy!  Basically you use non-dairy milk and mix it with a bit of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar, and let it sit for a few minutes to curdle.  This gives it a thicker texture and keeps the final baked product extra moist and well formed.

While your buttermilk is doing its buttermilk thing (aka- curdling), let’s zest some lemons.  I use the zest of 2 full lemons.  Of course you can adjust this up or down according to your taste, but I think 1.5-2 is perfect.  Once zested, measure out a cup of sugar into a large bowl, and mix the zest with the sugar (see the Ingredients Needed section to learn how to make these sugar free!).  The zest will be moist, which will turn the mixture into a crumb-like texture. This perfumes all of the sugar with the lemon, and is a great tool to make sure the lemon flavor is evenly distributed throughout the whole cake.

Starting to put the batter together..

Next, add your softened butter in with the sugar/zest mixture, and cream it together until fully combined and fluffy.  Note – I know 9.5 tbsp of butter is an annoying amount.  I am sorry for this.  But you will thank me after the cake is done and you’ve tasted it.  I tried with a little more, and I tried with a little less.  More and it got too browned and caramelized on top, less and it wasn’t moist and rich enough.  Reminder there are 8 tbsp in one stick, so just do one stick then measure out 1 tbsp and 1.5 tsp from another stick!

After creaming the vegan butter and sugar, add the curdled buttermilk and vanilla extract to this and mix together.  Warning – you will 100% think you’ve done something wrong based on the consistency.  It’s ugly.  It doesn’t combine.  This is why I’ve added a photo (first photo below), to show you that this is how mine looks too!!  You’re on the right track, it’s okay!  And I’m not gonna lie, even when you add the dry ingredients (second photo below) it’s not going to be as satisfyingly smooth as you want.  But the end result is going to taste so good you’ll forget the awkward phases this poor batter went through in its teen years here.   

Wet ingredients in a bowl
Complete batter in a bowl
Dry ingredient time..

Add in the gluten free flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder.  If you don’t have cornstarch on hand you can just use more flour in its place, but I like adding a little cornstarch into cakes like this as it helps keep it softer and lighter, more like using cake flour.   Like I warned above, this batter ain’t the prettiest.  But it is the tastiest.  And it’s what’s on the inside that counts!

We’re almost there, almost time to eat your vegan lemon pound cake. Pour it into a well-greased & floured or parchment paper lined 9×5 loaf pan, and pop it into the oven for 55-60 minutes.  Check for doneness closing in on 55 minutes by sticking a toothpick into the center of the cake and waiting for the glorious moment it emerges with just crumbs, no wet batter.  Once ready, remove the pan from the oven and move it to a cooling rack, this way air circulates around the bottom of the pan too.  To get maximum firmness/doneness/moistness, I leave the cake in the pan to cool for an hour.  This is hard.  You will want to dig your fork right in.  And I can’t stop you!  But try to let it cool as much as you can.

Wet batter in the pan
Baked cake still in the pan

If you want to use a glaze over the top of the vegan lemon pound cake, combine together either non-dairy milk or lemon juice with powdered sugar to your desired consistency.  Personally I prefer the milk option, as I like a sweeter glaze, but if you want MORE lemon flavor then go for a lemon juice based icing.

Nutritional info can be found in the Notes section below the recipe instructions.

Storage:

After the cake has fully cooled, seal air-tight in plastic wrap or a large Tupperware, and keep at room temperature.  It will stay good around 5 days.

Pro Tips & Tools:

  • Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Make sure you measure your liquid ingredients using liquid measuring cups.  This will ensure accuracy!  I love this set.
  • Be a lemon master! Get the finest zest using this microplane, and get the most juice out of them using this juicer.
  • Need any of the basics? I use this set of loaf pans.
Artistic photo of iced cake with 3 slices cut

Ingredients Needed:

  • Lemons – I use 2 for the zest, and this should be more than enough lemons also if you’re using the juice for curdling the non-dairy milk as well as making a lemon glaze for over the top.
  • Non-dairy milk – any should do here!  I usually use soy.
  • Vegan butter – softened! I use Earth Balance sticks.
  • Granulated sugar – If you are trying to cut back on your sugar intake, I love using this Monkfruit Sweetener in place of the granulated sugar.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Flour – Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Cornstarch – if you don’t have any cornstarch on hand you can use more flour in place here, but the cornstarch gives it all a softer texture, closer to cake flour.
  • Baking powder – I recommend using baking powder that has no added aluminum. This one is my go-to.
  • Salt
  • Powdered sugar – optional, for a glaze over the top. If you want this part to be sugar free, you can use this Monkfruit Powdered Sweetener in place of powdered sugar.

What To Bake Next:

Artistic photo of many slices of the cake surrounded by slices of lemon

Vegan Lemon Pound Cake (Gluten Free option)

Combine the brightness of fresh lemon zest with the most tender and moist cake you can imagine, drizzle a sweet glaze on top, and then apologize to all your other dessert recipes because you will never need them again.  This cake is the perfect addition to any party or tea time, and no one will ever know it’s vegan and gluten free!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Cool Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack, tea party
Servings 10 slices

Ingredients
  

Pound Cake Ingredients

  • 1-2 lemons’ worth of zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp non-dairy milk
  • tbsp vegan butter at room temperature and softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular granulated sugar
  • tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups gluten free flour can sub all-purpose if desired. This links to my favorite store bought gluten free flour blend that works best with all of my recipes, or see “Ingredients Needed” section for further info.
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch see notes
  • tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Lemon Icing Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite powdered sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp lemon juice *you can use non-dairy milk instead if you want a sweeter icing rather than a lemon icing

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Zest the lemons – I like to use the zest of between 1.5 and 2 lemons, you can do a little more or less to your own taste – and mix the zest in a bowl with the granulated sugar.  Then cream the lemon zest/sugar mixture with the softened butter until combined and fluffy.
  • Measure out the non-dairy milk and add in a tablespoon of lemon juice to curdle and create a vegan buttermilk consistency.  Let it sit for a few minutes until curdled, then add the buttermilk and vanilla extract in with the creamed butter.  Note – this consistency will seem very wrong as it doesn’t combine well.  This is okay.  Read the rest of the post for photos and more info here, but as long as you’re following the instructions don’t worry about the look of this batter.
  • Mix together the gluten free flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and mix the wet ingredients into the dry.  Mix until just combined, and then pour the batter into the lined loaf pan and stick into the oven. 
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes, testing for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the middle part of the loaf and making sure it comes out with crumbs, not wet batter.
  • Once done, remove the pan from the oven and stick it onto a cooling rack.  Let the cake continue to firm and cool inside the pan for an hour before removing to further cool, or eat while it’s warm.
  • If you are making an icing, mix the lemon juice (or non-dairy milk if you would prefer a sweeter glaze rather than a lemon glaze) and powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Adjust amounts if you’d rather a thinner or thicker glaze.  Drizzle over the top of the cake.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Notes

  • If you don’t have cornstarch, you can absolutely just use more flour in its place, but I like adding a certain amount of cornstarch into gluten free goods like this to give them a softer feel, more like as if you’d used cake flour.
 

NUTRITION INFO

Total amount: 1 loaf
Serving size: 10 slices 
Per serving amounts: (note – this does not account for icing)
  • Calories – 285
  • Grams of fat – 11.2
  • Grams of carbs – 42.4
  • Grams of protein – 3
Keyword gluten free pound cake, lemon, lemon cake, lemon pound cake, pound cake, vegan pound cake
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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