The legendary Ritz Carlton Lemon Pound Cake is known for it’s rich, buttery texture and bright lemon flavor.
The recipe is thought to have originated at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the 1920s, where it was a popular item on the menu. But is it true?
Ritz Carlton Lemon Pound Cake
There’s no readily available evidence that the Ritz-Carlton Hotel currently serves this lemon pound cake, or that it ever did!
Whether historical fact or folklore, this pound cake has clearly stood the test of time.
When only the real thing will do, this time-honored recipe always hits the spot.
Top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ve got the perfect sweet treat.
Most of what you’ll need for this cake are standard baking ingredients. Here’s the complete list:
- Flour- All-purpose flour is the best option for this cake. If you prefer, you can use cake flour, but I find it harder to work with. It makes it a little fluffier, though.
- Baking Powder- Baking powder will help the cake rise.
- Salt- Salt acts as a flavor enhancer for the other ingredients. It also complements the bright, lemony flavor well.
- Butter- I use salted butter for this recipe because salt and lemon pair well together. Be sure to set it out ahead of time and let it soften. Don’t substitute with oil or margarine. You’ll want the gorgeous yellow color the butter provides.
- Shortening- Any shortening will work, but I’m a fan of good old-fashioned Crisco. It’s the secret ingredient that made all my grandma’s cakes so good. And now, it does the same for me. Don’t skip this ingredient. It’s what you need to provide the cake with its delightfully dense crumb.
- White Sugar- Plain granulated sugar is perfect.
- Eggs- Use five large, room-temperature eggs. They add moisture and lightness to the cake while holding everything together.
- Whole Milk- Usually, I say use whatever milk you have on hand. However, whole milk is non-negotiable for this recipe. It’s the only type that provides the right balance of sweetness and richness.
- Lemon Juice and Zest- Remember to zest your lemon BEFORE you juice it. Trying it the other way around is a recipe for disaster.
- Confectioners’ Sugar- While optional, confectioners’ sugar is a fantastic addition to the cake. It makes it look lovely and adds additional sweetness.
How to Make Ritz Carlton Lemon Pound Cake
Baking a cake from scratch always takes more work than making a boxed cake. Still, as long as you follow the directions, it isn’t too hard.
1. Prepare. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 10-inch Bundt pan. Grease it liberally with butter, then dust it with flour.
2. Mix the dry ingredients. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in one bowl. (Use a sifter to do this. It will help aerate the ingredients.)
3. Mix the wet ingredients. Combine the butter, shortening, and sugar in a second bowl. Cream them together until pale and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time.
4. Combine the two bowls. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture by alternating it with the milk. (i.e., Add a little flour mixture, then a little milk.)
Continue until you’ve added all of the flour mixture and all of the milk. Don’t overmix during this step! Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
5. Bake. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake for about 55 minutes.
6. Cool. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, loosen it with a knife and turn it onto a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
7. Add the sugar (optional). Dust the cooled cake with confectioners’ sugar (if using).
8. Enjoy! Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Tips for the Best Pound Cake
Want a few tips to ensure your cake is the best it can be? Try these:
- Don’t zest the lemon too deep. If you do, you’ll run into the pith, which is bitter. Zest only the outer peel, and don’t dig too deeply into it.
- Roll the lemon before juicing. Rolling it will make it softer and easier to squeeze. You’ll get far more juice this way.
- Measure the flour accurately. A kitchen scale is the best tool for doing this. If you don’t have one, use a spoon to transfer the flour to the measuring cup. Don’t just scoop the flour out with the measuring cup. (You’ll use too much if you do.)
- Beat it (butter, sugar, shortening)- just beat it! You must cream the butter, sugar, and shortening for about 5 minutes. Take your time with it. Doing so aerates the butter (which is essential for the cake’s texture). It will be light, fluffy, and paler in color.
- Don’t overmix! Creaming the butter, sugar, and shortening is the only time you want to mix for a while. When adding the other ingredients – particularly the eggs – don’t overmix.
- Bake on the middle rack. It’s the perfect spot – neither too close nor far away from the heat source.
How to Store & Freeze
Store leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature. It should last for about 4 days before going stale.
You can also freeze the cake* for up to 3 months. First, wrap it in plastic wrap. Then, wrap it again in aluminum foil.
Store it upright in the freezer with nothing on top of it.
Be sure to let the cake thaw at room temperature before eating it. Avoid warming it in the microwave. Otherwise, it can dry it out.
*Note: If you want to freeze individual slices, that’s fine, too. Slice the cooled cake and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Then, store all the wrapped slices in a freezer-safe bag.
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