I’m always searching for a great recipe for lemon pound cake, or tea bread, the kind I remember having in Paris, moist but light, and loaded with lemon flavor. This might be the best one I’ve tried, which I discovered on an episode of Milk Street TV called “Baking in Paris”. The recipe is inspired by the show’s visit to Rose Bakery, a cafe owned by Rose Carrarini, where they sampled Rose’s acclaimed Lemon-Almond Pound Cake. Her secret is to replace some of the wheat flour with almond flour. Almond flour makes the cake's crumb extra tender and moist and gives it a more interesting texture than wheat flour alone. The original recipe uses a traditional lemon drizzle, but I decided to try a rosemary lemon drizzle which I saw John Whaite (English baker who won the third series of The Great British Bake Off) do on a Baking Mad “makeittogether competition The rosemary lemon drizzle soaks into the loaf cake and brings it to another level – an absolutely fantastic combination.
195 grams (1½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
241 grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
100 grams (1 cup) almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) salted butter, cut into 14 pieces, room temperature
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
Lemon Rosemary Syrup
108 grams (1/2 cup) white sugar
6 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 sprig of rosemary
- Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle position. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, dust evenly with flour, then tap out the excess.
- In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or small bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla until combined; set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the 241 grams sugar and the lemon zest on low until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add both flours, the baking powder and salt and mix until combined, about 10 seconds.
- With the mixer on low, add the butter a piece at a time. Once all the butter has been added, continue mixing on low until the mixture is crumbly and no powdery bits remain, 1 to 2 minutes.
- With the mixer still running, add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream and mix for about 10 seconds. Increase to medium-high and beat until the batter is light and fluffy, 1 to 1½ minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice. The batter will be thick.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the surface, then sprinkle evenly with sliced almonds. Bake for 45 minutes, then reduce the oven to 300°F. Continue to bake until the top is deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean, another 30 to 35 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, in a small saucepan over medium-low, heat the 108 grams (1/2 cup) sugar, 5 tablespoons of lemon juice and rosemary sprig, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture reaches a bubbly simmer. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Set aside to cool.
- When the cake is done, cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack, then turn it upright. Using a toothpick, poke small holes in the surface at 1-inch intervals. Brush all of the lemon-rosemary syrup onto the cake, allowing it to soak in. Cool completely before slicing, about 2 hours.
Tips: Don’t use cold butter or cold eggs. The butter must be softened to room temperature so it integrates into the sugar-flour mixture. And the eggs must be at room temperature, too, not chilled, so they don't cause the butter to stiffen up when added to the mixer. Lastly, don't rotate the cake as it bakes. Jostling the pan increases the chance the batter will deflate, resulting in a dense, under-risen cake.