Carla Hall’s Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

Carla Hall’s Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

Lemon Berry Pound Cake close up

Pound cake is always a more-is-more proposition. It’s sweet, dense, and rich, an unabashed pleasure. This version, from Carla’s grandma Freddie Mai, makes use of three different extracts—rum, coconut, and vanilla—to build in caramelly, creamy flavor. Fresh lemon and buttermilk are bracing counterpoints to the rest.

Carla Hall's Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake with Summer Berries

1 large bundt cake; serves 12 people
Recipe by Carla Hall

Total Cooking Time: 2 to 2½ hours
Active Cooking Time: 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes

    • Nonstick cooking spray, to grease pans
    • 4 cups (510 grams) all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon table salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 3⅖ cups (680 grams) granulated sugar
    • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
    • ⅓ cup full-fat buttermilk
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon rum extract
    • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 1½ teaspoons lemon juice



    • 2½ cups powdered sugar
    • ¼ cup full-fat buttermilk
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract


To Garnish

  • Zest of 1 lemon Assorted berries
  • Bundt or tube pan
  • Stand mixer or electric hand mixer

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder to combine. Set aside.

In small bowl combine buttermilk, vanilla, rum, and coconut extracts, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir to combine and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Alternately, use a hand mixer. Add the eggs 2 at a time, mixing to combine after each addition, scraping down the bowl frequently. Then add half of the flour mixture. Stir to combine. Add buttermilk mixture, and then follow with the remaining flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Prepare cake pan by spraying it thoroughly with oil. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake the pound cake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 80 to 90 minutes. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Then, while itǯs still warm, turn the cake out of the pan onto a serving plate.

While the cake cools, make the glaze. To a medium bowl add the powdered sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla paste or extract. Whisk together until smooth. Pour the glaze over the cake while still slightly warm, allowing glaze to drip down the sides. Before the glaze dries, scatter lemon over top of the glaze and dot the cake with berries.

Cook’s Note: This batter is thick.

Photo by Nicholas Gang

Emily Teel is the Editor-in-Chief of Spoonful Magazine, as well as a freelance food writer, recipe editor, tester, and developer in Philadelphia. She completed a Master of Arts in Food Culture and Communications at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. An alumna of Bryn Mawr College and a Legacy Award Winner with the women's culinary organization Les Dames d'Escoffier International, she's passionate about food and committed to the idea that everyone deserves access to meals that are both nourishing and satisfying. 


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