Starbucks’ Lemon Loaf Cake – the True Copycat Recipe

Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake - the True Copycat Recipe, fluffy, yet dense, yet moist with a delicious lemony glaze |click for recipe...| by Let the Baking Begin Blog. com
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I am so excited to share this recipe with you, you have no idea! Whenever I go to Starbucks, I just have to have their Lemon Loaf Cake. It has a very pronounced lemony flavor, super moist, fluffy yet dense, almost bread pudding-like consistency and a delicious white glaze.

Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake - the True Copycat Recipe, fluffy, yet dense, yet moist with a delicious lemony glaze |click for recipe...| by Let the Baking Begin Blog. com
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I have been trying to figure out what it’s made of for a looong time. I actually went online, searched for recipes and looked closely at their pictures to see if the texture resembles that of the Starbucks original Lemon Loaf Cake. I have tried at least 3 recipes that looked like they were going to be a close replica, all to just be disappointed in the end.

Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake - the True Copycat Recipe, fluffy, yet dense, yet moist with a delicious lemony glaze |click for recipe...| by Let the Baking Begin Blog. com
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One major flaw all  those recipes shared was that they were not moist inside. I figured that may be, the cake just needs to be soaked with something really. So I tried to soak the cake with lemon syrup. It only made the outside somewhat moist. I tried to use a special syringe to insert the syrup all the way into the middle, but that produced spots of moistness and still nothing like so sought after Starbucks Lemon Cake.
Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake - the True Copycat Recipe, fluffy, yet dense, yet moist with a delicious lemony glaze |click for recipe...| by Let the Baking Begin Blog. comStarbucks Lemon Loaf Cake - the True Copycat Recipe, fluffy, yet dense, yet moist with a delicious lemony glaze |click for recipe...| by Let the Baking Begin Blog. com
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Another thing that all those other cake had a problem achieving, was that very lemony flavor, without the sourness that comes with it. The addition of the lemon did not produce the correct flavor profile. I was really frustrated as there usually is not a recipe I am not able to reproduce, at least close to the original. I have seen a recipe that used Yellow Cake Mix and pudding all along but closed the page as soon as I saw that it used a store-bought Mix. I just don’t like using something that comes from a box if I am going to go through the trouble of making it at home. But, when all of those other recipes did not work, I decided that I had nothing to loose, so I was going to try it.
Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake - the True Copycat Recipe, fluffy, yet dense, yet moist with a delicious lemony glaze |click for recipe...| by Let the Baking Begin Blog. com
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I can not tell you how happy I am that I did! While I would rather use all natural ingredients that do not include a box of a store bought mix, I am able to get past that fact ONLY because this recipe produces an amazing, exact copy of the Starbucks Lemon Cake Loaf! The lemony-ness in this cake comes from the artificial lemon flavoring in the Lemon Pudding, but you can use plain Pudding and add 2-3 teaspoons of lemon emulsion & 2-3 drops of the lemon oil to achieve the same taste. I made my own version of what I think the glaze should look and taste like, but the rest of the recipe comes from Picky-Palate.com, this recipe is truly a God-sent.

Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake - the True Copycat Recipe, fluffy, yet dense, yet moist with a delicious lemony glaze |click for recipe...| by Let the Baking Begin Blog. com
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Without further ado, here it is -

Starbuck’s Lemon Loaf Cake – the True Copycat Recipe

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Two 9x5 loaves

Starbuck’s Lemon Loaf Cake – the True Copycat Recipe

Ingredients

    Cake
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 5.1 ounce instant or cook and serve Lemon pudding mix (can be replaced with instant vanilla pudding & 2 tsp lemon emulsion)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2-3 lemons)
  • Lemon Topping
  • 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon emulsion/extract

Instructions

    Make Lemon Loaf
  1. Turn oven to 350F. Line 2 loaf pans with foil & spray with non stick spray, or butter and flour the pans. Set aside.
  2. Combine all the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.
  3. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl, add about 1 cup of wet ingredients, beat with a mixer !on low speed! for about 15 seconds, then add the rest of the ingredients and beat on low speed for another 15-20 seconds. DO NOT over beat, or your cake will deflate.
  4. Divide batter evenly between two loaf pans.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden in color or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and let rest in the pan for 5 minutes, before removing and allowing to cool on a cooling rack.
  7. Make Icing
  8. Beat butter, powdered sugar, lemon juice & lemon emulsion until smooth and supple.
  9. Spread evenly on top of both cakes.
  10. Allow the glaze to harden up before slicing.
  11. This recipe can be used to make a cake, cupcakes or even small individual squares like I did using a brownie square pan (see link to picture below the post).

Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake - the True Copycat Recipe, fluffy, yet dense, yet moist with a delicious lemony glaze |click for recipe...| by Let the Baking Begin Blog. com
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UPD: Changed the instructions a bit to prevent cake deflating. Please read the recipe carefully.

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Comments

  1. says

    I made this and the cake fell. I will try using a more shallow container next time, like the brownie pan. It tasted great otherwise.

    • says

      If you follow to the original source of the recipe, some other people commented on there and said that they had the same problem. The original author reccommends to bake it a little longer next time. Mine deflated just a little once out of the oven, but not to a point where I can say that it sunk. So try to bake it a little longer next time? Thanks for your feedback!

    • Christine says

      Mine both fell like I have never seen!!!!! Yikes …. Cooked 50 minutes … will have to cook longer next time !!!! Plus used a 3.4 oz pudding and it was not a lemoney as I would have liked … Will add more lemon next time too!!!! But was SUPER moist!!! Definite re-try!!!!!

      • says

        When you do try again, please read my updated instructions to prevent deflating. I have revised the recipe and instructions a little bit to help with deflating. I looked at the original gal’s post and she shows a large box of the instant pudding, but says that she uses the little one, so I attempted using the large box and it came out fine. Also I read the instructions on the cake mix and it says not to mix it for more than 30 seconds, and I think this is the main culprit for everyone whose cake deflated.
        So try using the large cake box mix and do not overbeat, or do not beat (on low speed) for more than 30 seconds. Hope this helps.

        • says

          Oh and add lemon emulsion if you want more lemony flavor. Adding more lemon juice will not give you the lemony-ness you’re looking for as most of it will evaporate when baking.

  2. Donna says

    I posted a comment earlier, but it didn’t show up, so I’m trying again. I tried the recipe this morning and it turned out perfectly except for the glaze. I used 1/2 of 1 stick of butter. It says to beat until it is smooth. It never got smooth. It was very powdery, as though there was no butter or not enough. I continued following the recipe and the glaze separated, and never “set” like it should have. The flavor was wonderful but the appearance was not good. Any thoughts of what could have gone wrong? I definitely want to make it again but want it to look better.

    • says

      Hi Donna!
      I am glad that you liked the taste of this cake! As far as the glaze, I think your butter might’ve not been soft enough yet… Room temperature butter is soft enough when pushing with your finger on it, allows your finger to go to the bottom without resistance, is this how soft your butter was? Did you use as much lemon juice as the recipe calls for? Did you use the powdered sugar or may be you confused it with granulated sugar? If you give me a little more info, I might be able to help find the cause of the mishap :)

    • Brittany says

      I’ve made this cake 4-5 times and my husband just gobbles it up. I do have one problem though. Using the exact same ingredients for the icing two times at my house and twice at my moms, the icing is grainy and runny at my house and thick and perfect at my moms… Could it be the bowl I’m mixing it in? The mixer? The weather? It’s driving me crazy!!! Help!

      • says

        Hi Brittany, happy to hear that you like the cake! I think the only thing that I can think of is difference in humidity. Next time add half of the lemon juice and continue adding more until it’s perfect consistency and stop adding when you see the first sign of it going runny. That should do it :)

    • says

      It is a powdered ingredient that you just add dry to the cake mix. Follow to the original poster’s blog and you will find a picture of it there :) hope this helps :)

    • says

      It’s a little different, but can be substituted. Although, do not put the same amount of lemon extract as you would, lemon emulsion. Lemon extract is much more highly concentrated than lemon emulsion. Start with a couple of drops of lemon extract and just go by taste and smell.

  3. nicole says

    I haven’t made this yet but will soon.. this looks so good. I just wanted to say that another way to get more lemon flavor is to add the zest from the lemon. I can’t wait to try. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Maggie says

    I made this vegan by substituting soymilk, Ener-G egg replacer, Tofutti “Better Than Sour Cream,” and making sure that the cake and pudding mixes did not contain dairy or eggs. It turned out sooooooooooooo well. I brought it to my Dad for his birthday and he loved it!!!

    • says

      I am not sure how they’re (white and yellow cake mixes) different in texture (once cooked) so I am not sure if white cake mix would produce the same thing. But I am sure it’s not going to be bad, since both are cake. Let me know if you do try it :)

  5. Tammy Moser says

    I made this cake and went and bought a piece of lemon loaf cake from Starbucks and this recipe tastes delicious but nothing like Starbucks. Their cake is definitely a pound cake while this recipe is a layered cake recipe. Delicious lemon flavor, very moist, and light in texture.

    • says

      Hi Tammy, which Lemon Cake from Starbucks did you try? Some of the Starbucks’ stores changed their lemon cake from the sliced ‘pound cake’ type to the little square cakes, individually portioned. Their individually portioned ones are nothing like the ones they used to have (Loaf pan kind), and which this cake is a replica of.
      I actually went and bought the Starbucks lemon loaf as well, and to me they tasted pretty much the same, from texture, to moisture-ness, to the pore structure and even the glaze, but that doesn’t meant that we all have the same tastes :) I hope you still liked the cake you made at home :)

  6. M Dease says

    Sorry, but the crumb on this copy-cat recipe is nowhere near Starbuck’s Lemon Pound Cake. That is one of the things that make this cake so wonderful. Keep trying.

  7. says

    I’m preparing to make this for my honey this afternoon. that cake is the only reason he stops at starbucks… and he never shares! lol. let u know how much he loves me after he has some.

  8. Suzy says

    Wow this is so good! My new favorite cake recipe! I made this in a round 9″ cake pan and baked it for about an hour. I followed the recipe except I didn’t use any real lemon juice, only lemon emulsion, and made a simple glaze with powdered sugar and lemon emulsion.

  9. melissa tilley says

    I made this for my husband for a work meeting a few months ago. They continue to ask for it weekly.
    Did you change the recipe to make two loafs? I used this recipe to make one loaf…maybe that was a different recipe from a different site?
    Anyhow, wonderful recipe!!!!

    • says

      Hi Melissa,
      Thank you!
      I didn’t change the recipe, but if you used this recipe then you would either have to have a bigger pan to fit it, or you indeed did use another recipe :)

  10. Carrie says

    I followed the cake recipe instructions and did not change anything except for adding lemon zest. Like others, this cake did not rise in the middle like a “loaf” typically would. However, I think that since it’s made with a cake mix as the base, the end result tends to resemble what a cake mix cake looks like, a little flat. Flavor was yummy though. The texture of the cake was moist and porous. The Starbucks cake is more dense, like a pound cake. I think this recipe would be a great cake to make in round pans and then add a lemon or raspberry filling to it, then frost it.

    • says

      Hi Carrie,
      Thanks for taking the time to give us your feedback. I think the main benefit of this recipe is the moistness that you get, which I have not been able to replicate with other recipes. As to this recipe being good in a cake, you’re right, I actually made a which you can check out following the link.

      Once again thanks and hope you’re having a great day!

  11. Ada says

    I’m not a baker, but I tried making this recipe last night. It was delicious, I would even say better than Starbucks, at least my husband thinks so. I followed all instructions and I didn’t have any deflating issues and I didn’t use the lemon emulsion/extract for the frosting and it still tasted amazing, I did add a bit more lemon juice to make up for the extract. Thank you very much for sharing, this will definetly be a repeat!

    • says

      I’m glad that at least some people are getting the same results as I have :)) I tried to be as thorough as possible in the instructions, but unfortunately some still don’t get the desired results.
      Thanks for your feedback!
      By the way, adding lemon juice in place of the extract does not do the same thing. Lemon juice ads acidity without the flavor, which disappears once baked. If you do not have the lemon emulsion it’s better to use a tad more of the lemon zest.

  12. Tammy says

    I love lemon and came across your recipe. And i must say it’s the nicest moistest i’ve had in a long time, very good. The only thing i did different was use a lemon cake mix. So Thank you for sharing! I will definately be baking these again.

  13. Natalia says

    Hi Marina,
    Just found your version of Lemon Cake and cannot wait to try it! :-) What a fabulous job you did with cake as well as with pictures. Thanks a lot for sharing it. I am wondering what is the weight of the yellow cake mix? And should I still use pudding mix if I am going to bake with Lemon Drizzle Cake Mix from Home Cook? Thanks in advance for your reply.

    • says

      Thanks so much Natalia! It says that it’s 18.25 oz package. I am not sure if your brand and type of cake mix will work the same, but do let me know how it goes when you use it :

      Good luck to you!

  14. Marinka B. says

    Hi Marina. I’ve searched for a true copycat recipe for a long time.. and finally found it here!! thank you so much. My husband said it tasted better than starbucks!!! I was skeptical at first cause I only had a lemon cake mix and a small pudding box. but it turned out very moist and flavorful! thank you so much, will def do again!!! blessings to you!

  15. Dee says

    Made this yesterday but used lemon cake by accident. This cake was unbelievable moist and delicious. I’ll try it with the yellow cake mix next time so I can compare.

    • says

      Thanks Dee! Actually using lemon cake gets you a step ahead as you probably don’t even need to use the lemon emulsion that way, because it has the lemon flavor already. Thanks for your feedback, so glad you liked it!

    • says

      It can definitely be baked in a round pan instead of load pans. Unfortunately I don’t know what the time difference is, just bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

      • Sheila B says

        This cake recipe turned out AWESOME! I made some errors and left out a few things but all to my benefit. I used lemon cake mix by accident…win! I bought the wrong size pudding so I added some vanilla pudding mix with the lemon…worked! I didn’t use extract or emulsion just fresh lemon juice…another win! I baked in Bundt pan for 40 minutes…turned out perfect! Thanks for the recipe!

        • says

          That’s wonderful to hear Sheila!

          I think when using lemon cake instead of regular yellow you really don’t even need to use the emulsion because the lemon cake already has lemon flavoring in it.
          So you added the large vanilla pudding?

  16. Brenda says

    Made this last evening and following your instructions as written it was good. But today after setting overnight it was even better! Thank You for a delicious recipe I am sure we will make at get togethers. Both my daughter and granddaughter and I love lemon recipes and this is at the top!

  17. says

    I LOVE this recipe, but I substitute the yellow cake mix for a LEMON cake mix and DOUBLE the lemon juice in the cake recipe to almost 12 tablespoons and use lemon extract for the emulsion. It is PERFECT!

  18. says

    Just made this last night. Nothing like SB… If you are expecting SB you will be dissatisfied with the cake texture and flavor. The icing is too much like buttercream not icing.. It is a great lemon cake but nothing like SB pound cake.

  19. says

    Hi, I wanted to thank you for the Starbucks Lemon Bread recipe. I followed your exact directions and it turned out fantastic. I made it in 2 mini glass bread pans and one large. I gave my daughter a mini loaf to take in to work with her and she said her boss loved it too. I rose up perfect and I did what you said about only beating it for a few seconds. Everyone that wasn’t wild about anything that wasn’t Chocolate loved this. Thanks for a great recipe! Kim

  20. Jacqi says

    The cake turned out wonderfully, although it didn’t rise well…. but it still tasted great. I did have to redo the frosting, because it came out grainy and runny. I spread it on the cakes, and while hopelessly waiting for it to firm up, I read the comments here, including a few who had the same problem. So, I scraped off the glaze, and made more, using a tad more butter and much less lemon juice. (2 tbsp). Turned out perfect! Thanks so much for the recipe. My husband and I love it!

  21. says

    Marina ~~ This recipe is perfect ! I made it this morning after searching high and low all week for a recipe I thought worthy of the real real Starbucks lemon pound cake. It’s bad enough I spend $$ for coffee there several times a week but I will be darned if I will spend $2.40 on top of it for a piece of cake ! It is the moistness and the tartness of the lemon flavor you nailed . I followed the recipe down to the T, and it truly turned out as good or better than the original. THANK YOU for sharing this !

  22. Christine G says

    I am ANXIOUSLY awaiting my loaf to come out of the oven!!! :) Like you, I have tried numerous copycat versions, but have always been disappointed with the “dryness” (“lack of moistness” just seems too weird to write!)… I was so excited to see your explanatory lead up to your sharing of this recipe that I had to run over to our neighbours to get eggs (I only had 3 in my fridge and I was NOT going to jinx it by deviating from the recipe at all!) at 9 PM! Thank goodness it’s summertime! :) 35 minutes til my timer goes… Thinking I’ll be having a decadent Starbucks-worthy moment on my deck for breakfast tomorrow! Thank you for posting!!!

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