Sensational Pound Cake


Life is short, so we’ll start with dessert first:


By Dianne Boate
am going to share my all-time favorite cake recipe with you, in high hopes that you will head out to your kitchen and start baking! Birthdays and events are always coming and what better kind of present than a freshly baked cake? This cake is perfect, too, for mailing.
Recently I was privileged to demonstrate the techniques for making this cake a real lemon treasure with added lemon syrup, lemon glaze and Cream Cheese Lemon Frosting.  I used one cake to show all, but a new dessert was born, and that is to incorporate ALL in one cake giving you four “floors” of lemon flavor. No doubt it could send us all to Lemon Heaven!


I always make this double batch: twice the cake for half the work.
It is easy to divide all ingredients by 2 if you only want to make one recipe.
Note:  this recipe makes one 14-inch cake, square or round.
Other baking pan options are 3 loaf pans, or two angel food or bundt pans, or 4 9-inch layers. Baking times would vary.


1 pound unsalted butter
4 cups granulated sugar
6 extra large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound sour cream
4 1/2 cups whisk-stirred or sifted all purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest


  • Preheat oven; 325 degrees.
  • Cream butter  add sugar gradually, creaming well. Add vanilla.  Add the 6 eggs, beat-um-up!  Then add salt, baking soda and sour cream, beating until well blended.  Add flour in 3 lots, pulsing each time at first, beating until just blended.  I always use a large spatula and spoon batter over, like folding, to make sure all butter and sugar mixture in incorporated into the whole. Stir in the zest.
  • Bake at 325** in 14 inch pan that has been sprayed with Baker’s Joy or has been greased and floured.  Bake about 40 minutes or until you can smell it, then watch carefully for cake shrinking from sides.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack until you can comfortably handle pan, then remove from pan.
  • Wrap in saran wrap, then foil.
  • Best baked one day ahead.   This cake stores very well in refrigerator, and is a good keeper in the freezer. It is wonderful as is, or toasted and buttered, or embellished with frosting of your choice. Unfrosted and wrapped securely, loaf pan shape fits nicely into shoebox for mailing.
**Baking at 325 degrees helps cake rise evenly.


Lemon Syrup
In a saucepan heat 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice until sugar melts, remove from heat.  When cake comes out of the oven, prick hole with wooden skewer about 1/2 inch apart, brush on half of lemon syrup.  Wait 15 minutes, turn out and BRUSH on remainder of syrup. This amount will do for the 14 inch cake, 2 loaf pans or one each tube or bundt pan.


Lemon Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar mixed carefully with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Use back of spoon against bowl to remove any little clumps. Pour onto cake, spreading from center to edges. Let dry.


Cream Cheese Lemon Frosting.
Cream 8 oz cream cheese and 4 oz butter in mixer, adding 4 cups sifted powdered sugar (about 1 pound) with lemon juice and vanilla, beat until smooth.  If you are planning to use pastry tube decoration, sifting is especially important.  You may have frosting leftover, and it freezes well.


A brief word about my baking career: In my 20s I baked 73 recipes from THE BEST OF THE BAKE OFF, giving me a foundation in all kinds of cakes (and cookies, pies, breads.) When my 40s rolled around and I was temporarily jobless, wondering what to do, opportunity! My sons worked for a popular SF eatery called Nosheria. They demanded, “Mother, make some cakes!” I finally gave in, but not before I fashioned a pink cotton outfit to wear for my cake interview.   Nervously I watched the owners taste the cakes. They turned and asked, ”How soon can you deliver?” The Cake Lady was born.


Now, for a little trip to Morocco for a delicious Tagine:

Moroccan Vegetarian Tagine with Lemon 3 Ways

This is a dish we served March 21 at St Cyprian’s Community Church, as part of an event, Lemon Lessons. This program was made possible by the San Francisco Foundation, in partnership with Cyprian’s.

As the Lovely Lemon approaches the end of a late-Winter flush here in San Francisco, we secured an abundance of local lemons to make some hearty and nutritious food with help from Cyprian’s and neighbors.

The following recipe makes use of 2 fresh lemon parts: lemon juice and lemon zest, while also taking advantage of the flavors associated with a fermented form of lemons- preserved lemons. Our recipe for preserved lemons is simple and straightforward. All you really need is: lemons, a jar and salt. There are many variations on making preserved lemons. We like the method used by Hank Shaw, in his beautiful blog here.

Tagine is adapted from Ray Lee’s Recipe on

Active Time: 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Makes 6-8 servings



  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (soak beans 8 hours or overnight. Then cook chickpeas in salted water until soft). Or substitute canned chickpeas if you’re making this dish in a pinch.
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, medium dice
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, large dice
  • 1 1/4 cup green olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 preserved lemons, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried currants


  • 3 cups dry Israeli couscous
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • zest of 1 lemon

Lemon Yogurt

  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

For the tagine:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add onion, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in cumin and cinnamon stick, and toast until aromatic, about 1 minute; add ginger and garlic, and cook until just softened, about 1 minute more.
  2. Add carrots, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice, vegetable broth, and saffron and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, covered, until vegetables are almost completely cooked but still raw in the center, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower, olives, chickpeas, preserved lemon, and currants and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes more. Taste tagine and adjust seasoning if necessary.

For Couscous:

  1. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add Israeli couscous and stir consistently to lightly coat.
  3. Saute dried couscous in oil until heated through and lightly toasted.
  4. Add 4 cups water to couscous and bring to a boil. You can also add broth of your choice or a little of the broth from the tagine. This will add a nice flavoring and texture to the couscous.
  5. When water has been absorbed, add zest of lemon and stir.

To Serve:

Add half cup couscous to bowl. Ladle tagine over couscous and include broth so that the couscous is submerged in liquid.

Optional: Lemon yogurt makes a tangy accompaniment to this hearty dish. Start with plain greek yogurt and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Drizzle to balance out the spices of the tagine and offer extra as a condiment to taste.


Finally, a little strawberry lemonade to sip while you’re enjoying your lemon treats!

Sparkling Mint Lemonade 

Makes 10 eight ounce servings.


7 cups chilled soda water or your favorite sparkling mineral water

1 ½ cups fresh lemon juice

1 ¾ cups chilled Mint Simple Syrup

Zest of 1 scrubbed lemon

Strawberries, muddled with sugar and cooked in a saucepan until soft


  1. Pour lemon juice into a pitcher or punch bowl
  2. Add mint simple syrup. Stir briskly with a whisk to dissolve
  3. Add muddled strawberries.
  4. Add soda water. Garnish with half the lemon zest
  5. Serve immediately over ice


Mint Simple Syrup

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

Zest of 1 scrubbed lemon*

Handful of torn fresh mint leaves (any mint will work)


  1. Boil water. Add 2 cups sugar. Stir to prevent sticking. Turn down heat to a simmer Continue to simmer until mixture turns golden brown and coats the back of a spoon Turn off heat
  2. Add mint and half lemon zest. Let sit until mixture comes to room temperature
  3. Strain out mint leaves and zest. Chill.
  4. Syrup will keep in fridge for up to 1 month in a tight container


*lemon zest freezes well and can be kept for several months in the freezer