Vegan pound cake with lemon icing made utterly delicious and moist without oil. This whole food, plant-based cake recipe is gluten free and refined sugar free.
If you enjoy almond flour dessert recipes like my whole food plant-based molasses cookies and almond flour mug cake, I think you'll really love this lemony, sweet and tangy, tender and rich lemon cake.
Unlike a traditional pound cake, this recipe has no eggs, no butter (no dairy at all), and no vegan butter or coconut oil--so it's completely oil free and healthy.
What I love about this lemon loaf cake
I love that this easy pound cake recipe is so delicious, you can serve it to anyone with confidence.
It's not going to taste like it's made with healthy, gluten free ingredients, which let's face it, when it comes to baked goods, doesn't always taste that great.
And I love how the cake is only slightly sweet, while the thick, lemony glaze brings on the WFPB compliant sugary goodness. (Of course, you can always limit the sweetener or make substitutions for a less sweet dessert, if you prefer.)
Is this a low fat cake? No, it's not. It gets a decent amount of healthy fat from the almond flour, which is why it's a little rich and decadent, even without butter or oil.
Each serving has about 2 ½ tablespoons of almonds, so if you're okay with that in your diet from time to time, I say go for it and make this amazing cake.
I think you're gonna feel like this is the best vegan pound cake you've ever tried--that's not full of bad-for-you ingredients.
Finally, I love this recipe because I'm crazy for lemons! (Maybe you are, too?)
From my lemony lentil turnip soup and lemony corn chowder, to my chop salad with lemon aquafaba dressing, and even my super popular spinach-basil oil free pesto, I can't seem to get enough of the stuff!
- lemon juice + lemon zest - you'll need abut 5 lemons for the cake + icing.
- applesauce - unsweetened
- almond butter - unsweetened, natural style
- maple syrup
- plain, unsweetened plant milk
For the Icing
- lemon juice + lemon zest
- vanilla extract
- date sugarg-or sub your granulated sweetener of choice (see notes).
- corn starch
Follow these photos and instructions to help make it great, every time. Please also see the full recipe card at the bottom of this page.
Step 1. Add the wet ingredients to a bowl and whisk.
Step 2. Add the dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk until lump free.
Step 3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients bowl and whisk until lump free.
Step 4. Pour the cake batter into a loaf pan.
Step 5. Bake the cake, then cool completely.
Step 6. Make powdered sugar in a blender (or food processor).
Step 7. Whisk the powdered sugar and other icing ingredients in a bowl.
Step 8. Drizzle the icing over the cooled pound cake.
Silicone bakeware. It's perfectly fine to line your regular pan with parchment paper, but for easy, oil free baking, I highly recommend flexible (but not too flimsy!) silicone bakeware as shown in the photos above.
Your cake will be perfectly formed and will pop right out.
Don't scoop your flour with the measuring cup. Use a spoon or scoop to spoon it into the measuring cup instead, then use the flat side of a knife to scrape the excess off the top.
You don't want to pack your flour, and almond flour is very easy to compress. Some recipes recommend weighing your ingredients, but I didn't find that to be necessary to get a good result with this recipe.
Don't overwork your batter. Eliminate lumps in the dry and wet ingredients before mixing them together.
Then, whisk to completely combine the dry into the wet (add the dry a little at a time), but don't over stir, or the batter can become tough.
Don't be tempted to ice the cake until fully cooled. This is a fairly delicate icing, and while it firms up nicely when it sets, it will be quite runny.
A warm cake will make it too runny, and all of your icing will end up on the plate.
Adjust the sweetness to your liking. This cake is not very sweet, but the icing is. I like the contrast and the overall result.
But, if you want a less (or more) sweet cake, you can add a touch more sweetener to your cake, or a little less to your icing.
Just taste and adjust as desired. But note, if you add more liquid sweetener to the cake (maple syrup, for example) reduce the plant milk by the same amount so that it cooks properly.
Zest. When zesting your lemon, only grate the dark yellow part of the skin, not the white (pith), which has a bitter flavor.
Substitutions and variations
Check out these ideas for ingredient substitutions, and creative ways to adapt this recipe to your liking. I haven't tried all of these myself, but please give them a try if you don't have everything you need on hand or just like to experiment.
- Lemons. We actually used Meyer lemons straight off the tree in our backyard while developing this recipe. (We went through A LOT of lemons!) They have a slightly milder flavor, and are quite juicy with a thin skin. But regular lemons work perfectly well.
- Almond flour. I can't recommend a replacement at this time, as changing the flour would drastically change the recipe since almond flour doesn't behave exactly like other flours, and can't be swapped easily.
- Oat flour. I believe this could be swapped with another flour like whole wheat flour, etc. But I haven't tried it.
- Almond butter. You can use another neutral tasting nut or seed butter, but I would not recommend peanut butter as the flavor is too strong and would overpower the delicate lemon flavor of the cake.
We used erythritol because we wanted a healthy, but white, granulated sugar.You can use other sweeteners, but note, darker colored sweeteners like date sugar and date paste are less sweet and will make the cake and/or icing slightly brown. We tried it both ways, and it was still very good! Note: this recipe was originally made with erythritol, which has since come into question as an acceptable WFPB sweetener. Please use date sugar or another granulated sweetener of your choice.
- Orange cake. Replace some of the lemon juice (about ¼) with orange juice and all of the lemon zest with orange zest. I have not tried this yet, but I plan to, and believe it would work well and be delicious.
- Lemon poppy seed cake. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of poppy seeds to the cake batter before pouring it into the loaf pan.
- Lemon blueberry cake. Add ½ cup of blueberries to the cake batter before pouring it into the loaf pan.
- Yogurt or sour cream pound cake. I haven't tried this, but I believe you could replace about 1 tablespoon of the applesauce and all of the plant milk with ¼ cup of plant-based yogurt or sour cream. I'd recommend making the recipe according to the directions first, then making sure the batter has the same consistency/moisture when trying this substitution. Please let me know if you try it!
What to serve with this healthy pound cake
I love a slice of this lemon loaf cake with a cup of herbal tea, like chamomile. It's not a large cake, so a single slice is perfect for afternoon tea.
A slice of this cake would also be lovely with a big spoonful of fresh berries on top. In addition to being so very good for you, berries aren't too sweet and would complement the lemon flavor really well.
While you could add traditional desert toppings like whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, to me, there's already plenty of richness and sweetness going on with the cake alone.
Because vegan baking does not use animal products like butter or eggs, the flavor and texture can be more dense or oily than traditional recipes. However, this recipe produces a moist, light cake with no animal products (dairy or eggs) and no oil.
Not really, since traditional pound cake has a pound each of butter, eggs, milk and flour. So no vegan cake is actually a pound cake. But it will remind you of a delicious, lemony pound cake, hence the name.
Yes, it can be! Vegan recipes that rely on vegan butter made with oil or coconut oil are processed and high in saturated fats. Refined sugars are also unhealthy for you. But unless you're on a strict low fat diet, this whole food plant-based, oil free cake is perfectly healthy.
Store this recipe in the refrigerator or on the counter in an airtight container for 3-4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months, but I recommend freezing only the cake, but making the glaze fresh when you serve it.
Happy, whole food plant-based cooking, y'all!
More whole food, plant-based desserts
Vegan Pound Cake with Lemon Icing
For the Cake
- 4 tablespoon lemon juice + 4 tablespoon lemon zest about 4 lemons. You'll need about 5 lemons for the cake + icing - see notes.
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ cup natural style unsweetened almond butter
- ½ cup maple syrup or sub date syrup, see notes.
- 2 tablespoon plain unsweetened plant milk
For the Icing
- 3 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 ½ teaspoon lemon zest about 1 lemon - see notes.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup date sugar or sub another granulated sugar - see notes.
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
To Make the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and make sure 1 rack is in the center of the oven with enough room above for a loaf pan.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or use a silcone pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the wet ingredients (lemon zest + lemon juice, applesauce, almond butter, maple syrup, and plant milk). Whisk to combine until smooth.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients (almond flour + oat flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt). Whisk together until fully combined and lump free.
- Add the dry ingredients about ⅓ at a time to the wet ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Whisk well until everything is fully combined and lump free.
- Spoon the batter into the loaf pan, spreading it out evenly.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool complete before icing, about 1 hour.
To Make the Icing
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the vanilla extract and lemon juice.
- Make powdered sugar. Place the date sugar and corn starch in a blender, and process a few seconds until it forms a light, powdery sugar. See notes.
- Add the powered sugar a little at a time and stir to combine, making sure to break up any lumps.
- Add the lemon zest and whisk together.
- Remove the cooled cake from the loaf pan, and place on a tray or plate with some room around the edges.
- Slowly pour the icing evenly over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.
- Allow the icing to fully set before serving (about 15 minutes). Place the cake in the fridge if you want the icing to set faster.