Buttermilk Lemon Bread

A stack of glazed Buttermilk Lemon Bread slices

My Buttermilk Lemon Bread is a tangy lemon loaf that practically sings with fresh lemony flavor, and I’m spilling all the secrets to this perfect citrusy pound cake right here!

A stack of Buttermilk Lemon Bread slices

This lemon cake has a lovely classic soft texture (just look at that crumb!) and a tangy flavor (can you say buttermilk and fresh lemon?)  I crave lemon from time to time, and a great lemon loaf can’t be beat. Baking up this easy bread at home means you get a true, natural lemon flavor that you just won’t get from commercial products, and if you’re lemon-obsessed like I am, a classic lemon loaf like this is the holy grail of lemon recipes.

Secret #1 Buttermilk makes this cake impossibly tender

You can always count on me to make little improvements to any recipe, and this one is no exception. I swapped out regular milk for thick tangy buttermilk, the cultured kind you can find in your regular supermarket. It’s been fermented, like yogurt, and is low fat and super healthy. I love the stuff, it makes such a difference in so many recipes. Buttermilk is acidic, and actually tenderizes cakes, but also adds lots of flavor.

Fresh out? Here’s how to make your own buttermilk

  • Add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to a cup of whole milk. Let sit for 15 minutes before using. While this doesn’t result in the thick cultured style buttermilk you find at the supermarket, it works in a pinch.

A stack of glazed Buttermilk Lemon Bread slices

Secret # 2  I use cake flour

Cake flour is an easy switch that results in a more tender bread. Cake flour is a lower protein flour, which means it forms less gluten than regular flour in baked recipes. When I have it in the pantry I tend to use it a lot, because I prefer a delicate tender crumb in my baked goods.

Fresh out? Here’s how to make your own cake flour

  • To make a cup of cake flour, measure out a cup of all purpose flour, then remove 2 tablespoons. Add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and sift to combine. Now you can use it just like you would use regular flour. If you’d like to make it in bulk, remove and replace 1/2 cup flour with cornstarch for every 4 cups of flour.

Buttermilk Lemon Bread, sliced

Secret # 3  I make my easy lemon sugar to amp up the lemon factor

This is a secret I just love, I’ve used it in my Scottish Lemon Sugar Shortbread and my Lemon Sugar Crumb Cake. Instead of grating lemon zest to add to the batter, I process the lemon peels with granulated sugar in my food processor. The result is a moist, fragrant, and insanely lemony sugar with the essence of fresh citrus infused into every crystal.

Making lemon sugar in a food processor for Buttermilk Lemon Bread

Here’s how to make lemon sugar

  • I remove the zest of a lemon with a vegetable peeler. I love my serrated peeler,  it allows me to easily peel off just the yellow, but none of the bitter white, zest. Add that to the cup of sugar listed in the recipe, and give it a good whiz! The result is a pale yellow, insanely fragrant lemon sugar ready to use.

Glazing a Buttermilk Lemon Bread

Secret #4  I use Meyer Lemons

Since Meyer lemons are in season I used them, and their delicate flavor makes this cake super special. You can especially tell the difference in the glaze, which is made simply with powdered sugar and fresh Meyer lemon juice.

Meyer Lemons, sliced

What’s the difference between Meyer lemons and regular lemons?

I’m so glad you asked! I love lemons and I love talking about them almost as much as I love cooking with them.

  • Meyer lemons are a very old natural hybrid citrus, so old and mysterious that no one really knows for sure how they came about, but it’s thought that they resulted from a cross between 2 of the original citrus fruits (a citron and a mandarin/pomelo hybrid) in China.
  • Meyers are plump, thinner skinned, and more of a warm orange=y yellow than regular lemons.
  • Their flavor is much sweeter, less acidic, with a definite hint of orange, and a little bit floral.
  • While regular lemons are always in the supermarket, you’re more likely to find Meyer lemons from December up until spring.
  • Use Meyer lemons exactly the same way you use regular lemons.

More Meyer lemon recipes to try ~


Reader Rave ~

“Wow this bread was moist, fragrant and delish! The buttermilk does wonders in breads, going to make sure I always use it in my breads. Thank you for the lemon sugar tip too.” ~ Yvonne


A stack of Buttermilk Lemon Bread slices
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3.78 from 184 votes

Buttermilk Lemon Bread

My Buttermilk Lemon Bread is a tangy lemon loaf that practically sings with fresh lemony flavor, and I'm spilling all the secrets to this perfect citrusy pound cake right here!
Course Breakfast, quick bread
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Calories 346.87kcal
Author Sue Moran

Ingredients

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour use all purpose flour if you like
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • lemon juice to thin start with 1 tablespoon and add more as necessary

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F Lightly butter a 9x5 loaf pan and line it with parchment paper with long ends so you can lift the bread out later for glazing and slicing.
  • Remove the peel from the lemon with a vegetable peeler. A serrated peeler works best for this. You want to remove just the yellow part of the peel, with little of the bitter white part.
  • Put the sugar and lemon peelings in a food processor and process until the peels are completely incorporated into the sugar.
  • Put the lemon sugar and butter into a stand mixer and cream until light and fluffy ~ a full 5 minutes.
  • Beat in each of the eggs, one by one, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the mixer, alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Finish mixing by hand, to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed, but don't over beat.
  • Turn the batter into the prepared pan, spread out evenly, and bake on the center rack for 50-55 minutes, or until fully risen and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine.)
  • Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove, using the parchment paper handles, and let fully cool on a rack.
  • Meanwhile whisk together the sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick glaze. Spread the glaze over the cooled bread.

Cook's notes

The success of any cake or quick bread is in the details. Make sure your oven is accurate. Make sure you measure correctly. Use the fluff/scoop/level method for measuring flour: fluff up the flour first to loosen it, then scoop it with your cup measure, then lightly level if off with the flat side of a knife or your finger.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Nutrition

Calories: 346.87kcal
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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67 Comments

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  • Reply
    Cindy Kummet
    March 3, 2021 at 6:00 am

    5 stars
    I made this bread Sunday and it was probably the easiest and best lemon bread I have ever made!

  • Reply
    lilian
    February 28, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    thank you looks delicious
    just I need to know how much butter in gr or oz – or how much a stick is. please.
    lilian from Denmark..

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 28, 2021 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Lilian, a stick of butter is 113 grams.

  • Reply
    MariadelPilar
    February 28, 2021 at 10:35 am

    5 stars
    Buttermilk lemon bread it is Wonderful I have been doing for 2 years my family and friends loved ?.
    Thank you Susan for your Amazing recipes .

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 28, 2021 at 11:39 am

      Thanks for your support!

  • Reply
    Steven
    February 28, 2021 at 9:19 am

    4 stars
    Hi Sue,
    It would be great if you would include weights (grams) for those of us that like to weigh our ingredients rather than scooping and eyeballing. I feel sometimes being exact on ingredient amounts will lead to success.
    Thank you

  • Reply
    Paige
    January 14, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    This is an amazing recipe so delicious! About how long do you think it can be stored?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      January 14, 2021 at 1:30 pm

      Quick breads usually last a couple of days.

  • Reply
    Catherine
    December 9, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    This looks heavenly, but I’m wondering… Is it possible to make this in a bread machine?

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 9, 2020 at 1:25 pm

      No, this is a quick bread, or a sweet bread, and it won’t work in a bread machine, I’m afraid.

  • Reply
    Leo
    December 6, 2020 at 9:06 am

    5 stars
    I m going to attempt this using Limes, I’ll try lemons next time and I’ll keep you posted

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 6, 2020 at 9:19 am

      Please do!

  • Reply
    Donna
    August 20, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    This looks delicious!! What are the nutritional values for this, not just the calories? How would you substitute almond flour? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 28, 2021 at 6:01 am

      You could use some almond flour in place of the wheat, but it wouldn’t work to replace all of the flour. If you’re looking for gluten free, you might try a good gluten free baking mix. I’ll try and add the rest of the nutritional info for you.

  • Reply
    Margaret
    August 20, 2020 at 11:18 am

    5 stars
    Beautiful tender cake with big hints of lemon. Turned out perfect and I learned to make lemon sugar. It is well worth the effort. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Hali
    August 11, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Would this recipe work in the mini loaf pans? Any idea baking time?

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 11, 2020 at 9:37 am

      The general rule is to reduce the baking time by about 1/4, so in this case you might start checking them at 35 minutes. Mini loaves can vary in size, so I would check them even earlier.

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