Bay Leaf Pound Cake

Bay Leaf Pound Cake Recipe

An impromptu road trip happened over the weekend. We hopped in the car and decided to drive south to Los Angeles. It felt great. I packed a small weekend bag, a single pair of shoes, a hot thermos of White Peony Bai Mudan, and a small cake. I think we've talked about this before, but I like the combination of road trips and cake. Tiny, tasty, unfussy, resilient cakes. The sort of cakes you can slice from with a pocket knife while taking in those little moments that make traveling by car instead of plane worth it. Like when you're looking at the sunrise illuminating the painterly palm-lined hills west of the interstate, or stretching in the bright sun at a rest stop. For me, the definition of a special occasion. This time I made the Bay Leaf Pound Cake from David Lebovitz's new book.

Bay Leaf Pound Cake RecipeBay Leaf Pound Cake RecipeBay Leaf Pound Cake Recipe

This is a moist-crumbed, beautifully perfumed pound cake. The bay is a lovely back note against a punch of fragrant orange. This is a cake that perfumes the entire house, and those of you who bake it will likely agree, the name of the cake in French captures its spirit better than in English - Gâteau Week-End Parfumé au Laurier Nappage à l'Orange :)

Bay Leaf Pound Cake Recipe

The only thing better would have been having David in my kitchen to bake it with me. xo -h


Bay Leaf Pound Cake

You can make this pound cake with whole wheat pastry flour as well. Just be extra mindful not to over bake. Also, as David suggests, substituting rose geranium or another (edible) scented leaf is a fine idea, just make sure the leaves are unsprayed. You can bake this in a 9-inch pan, or equivalent, I like to experiment with different pan shapes.

6 tablespoons / 3 ounces / 85 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon butter, for piping

10 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 2/3 cups / 230g all-purpose flour
1 cup / 200 g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup / 125 g sour cream
finely grated zest of one orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Orange Glaze:
1 cup / 140 g powdered sugar
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange liquor, such as Grand Mariner or Cointreau (optional)

Melt 6 tablespoons (85g) of butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add 3 of the bay leaves. Let steep for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan (or equivalent). Dust with flour and tap out any excess. If possible, line the bottom with parchment paper (if the shape of your pan makes it impossible to line with parchment, skip the paper). If you have a flat-bottomed pan, dab one side of the remaining 7 bay leaves with a little bit of butter and place the leaves, evenly spaced, on the bottom of the prepared pan, buttered side down. Alternately, if your pan doesn't have a flat bottom, you can wait, and place the remaining bay leaves atop the batter just before placing in the oven (as shown above).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, orange zest, and vanilla until combined. If needed, barely rewarm the butter to liquify it and pluck out the bay leaves. Whisk the butter into the egg mixture.

With a spatula, gently stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture, just until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, being careful not to disturb the leaves (alternately, top the cake with any remaining leaves). Put the remaining 1 tablespoon of softened butter into a plastic bag, snip off a corner, then draw a straight line of the butter down the center of the cake (alternately, a circle if your pan is round). Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It's better to slightly under bake, than over bake this cake.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and then tip out onto a cooling rack, remove leaves, and let cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange liquor (if using). Stir until smooth, then spread the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides and harden.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Slightly adapted from David Lebovitz's beautiful new book, My Paris Kitchen.

Prep time: 60 min - Cook time: 50 min

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Your Comments

March 11, 2014

yuuuum another delicious and fragrant orange cake! bookmarked to try.
I made one this weekend (clementines, almond and cardamom), and you're right, it smells amazing!


totally making it tonight


I am very curious to see how this loaf will turn out in my kitchen. The flavours of bay and orange is unique to me and would be a welcomed change to the traditional. Did you use the dry leaf here?

Either way your cake looks divine!


March 11, 2014

Looks really yummy. I am gonna try it. Will let you know how it goes.


March 11, 2014

I never think of using bay in a dessert- I always just throw the leaves in soup and forget about their existence otherwise. Now I'm very curious.


I'm totally intrigued. But I have to ask... do you eat the bay leaves? Remove them before glazing?

HS: Hi Brandon - remove them before eating :)


March 11, 2014

I would be interested to know how you packed the lovely cake in the car for traveling.

HS: Hi Nina - i just wrap it in a large piece of butcher paper!


March 11, 2014

Love the idea of a fragrant cake. Love the smell of oranges. Will certainly try it. Would it be okay to use lavender and oranges


I love they way you described this cake as perfuming the whole house. I absolutely adore fragrant cakes like this. That description alone is enough incentive for me to make it as soon as possible.


Oh, this cake is stunning! I am heading South to Orange County next week with the girls and their horses, leaving before dawn, and I think watching the sun come up in the Central Valley with a slice of this cake, and a thermos of tea, will make for a special journey. Many thanks!


March 11, 2014

I, too, love simple cakes paired with trips! But honestly, I love simple cakes alongside anything at all. This one looks amazing, and I've been wanting to make something with fresh bay leaves - I didn't even consider a cake! I will surely be trying it out in my kitchen. And I'm glad, too, that you had such a lovely getaway! xo


March 11, 2014

Thank you! I'm going to bake this lovely cake this weekend.


March 11, 2014

Oh, I am very excited to try this with some fresh kaffir lime leaves! ;) thanks


herkkusuun lauasella
March 12, 2014

what a wonderful idea, using bay in a cake. this once again goes to my to-do-list.


March 12, 2014

Wow, really interested to taste this cake with the bay as never really thought to use it in a sweet recipe. Will give it a go. FoodNerd x


Marie @ Little Kitchie
March 12, 2014

What a beautiful cake!


March 12, 2014

What a wonderful idea for using bay leaf - I have seen it in ice cream and custards but never in a cake. Now I am curious what other treasures David's new book contains!

And yes to roadtrips and cake - as soon as the plans for a new trip start to take shape I immediately think of what snacks to make and pack!


Lisa @ Simple Pairings
March 12, 2014

Looks lovely, Heidi. I am really intrigued by an herb-infused cake! I imagine it's fantastic, especially alongside a strong orange flavor. I just love coming to your blog and look forward to your posts. Always so calm and beautiful. Cheers! :)


I love your road trip style! Also, I cannot wait to buy David's new book. What a tasty sneak peek :)


Love the combination of bay leaves and orange zest. In a pound cake!


March 12, 2014

Just exquisite.


March 12, 2014

Did you get an advanced copy of his book....its not going to be released in English before April 8......FYI going to attend a cooking class with David in Austin in that's something I am totally excited about.

HS: I did Karin! You'll love it. And, no doubt, you'll have a great time with David. :)


March 12, 2014

Heidi I love your baked goods. This one is sure to please my unusual taste buds. Pinning.


March 12, 2014

Yum. What do you think of using basil?


March 12, 2014


This looks beautiful and I'd love to make it....only with lactose intolerance sour cream is a nono for me. Any suggestions for a substitute for that?


March 12, 2014

Yum. What do you think of using basil? And lemon/limoncello instead of orange in the frosting. I'm not a fan of orange. I'd live to bake this cake today for my friends birthday.


meg @ joy of cooking
March 12, 2014

Wow. This looks beautiful. I love desserts flavored with typically savory ingredients. Thanks so much for sharing. I have all of David's other books, and it looks like I'll soon be buying another.


March 12, 2014

Why do you specify *aluminum-free* baking powder?


Alice Dishes
March 12, 2014

Looks so delish and can't wait to have that scent wafting through the house!


March 12, 2014

Sounds heavenly, Heidi. I used to bake a similar cake using a layer of rose geranium leaves, plus a couple leaves crumbled into the batter. Makes the house smell amazing.


Scrumptious Scran
March 12, 2014

I would never have thought of incorporating the flavour of bay leaves - which I adore - in a cake, so must give this a try. I would imagine the orange really compliments the bay, too? Thanks for posing the recipe, and accompanying it with such lovely photographs.


March 12, 2014

I have never in my 26 yrs of small life imagined a cake with bay leaf. What an idea! And oh i love that mould


March 12, 2014

A beautiful smelling cake- yes, I feel that I can smell the bay leaves from here. I quite fancy those moulds too!


March 12, 2014

I like the way you think, Heidi. I was wondering what to make so your timing is perfect: this will be packed for our road trip - thank you. Love the atmosphere of your photos. And that is a most voluptuous squash!


March 12, 2014

Your kitchen always looks so clean and "uninterupted". I wonder where you keep all these lovely pans you use. My kitchen walls are hung full of the things that I use. I would love to be uncluttered, but I can't seem to manage it. Good for you!


I imagine that pound cake is incredibly aromatic. I've never heard of using bay leaves in a cake before. I'll have to show this recipe to my fiance as she is much more the cake baker than I am. It looks so delicious though.


Maureen in Oakland
March 12, 2014

Who wouldn't love to have David L. baking along in her/his Kitchen? I am going to make this today, but use California Bay. I imagine it will need less of the leaves since they are so strong. I will report back!

Ooh and to make it totally California, I will top it with my Huckleberries in bay syrup...


March 12, 2014

This looks wonderful (and I definitely trust David when it comes to baking).

I'm tempted to do something like this with kaffir lime leaves.


March 12, 2014

Hi Heidi!
I just baked a pumpkin-sage cake and an apple-rosmary cake, but I wouldn't thought about bay leaves!
Just one question: why piping butter on the cake before baking it?
Many thanks and... I just love this recipe and I'm going to make it asap!


March 12, 2014

I am curious why you pipe a line of butter on the top of the cake.


March 12, 2014

Reminds me of a cake I used to get at a small place in North Beach. They had an amazing Bundt like cheese cake - not creamy, very dense and crumbly, lemony and cheese (cornbreadish in texture). Can't find a recipe for anything like it. This will do find in the meantime.


March 12, 2014

A gluten and dairy free version??? Love the concept! also the basil idea sounds great, basil and lemon?


March 12, 2014

J'aime ce gateau, c'est simple et delicieux!


diary of a tomato
March 12, 2014

And everyone should have a decorative pan to bake such a delectable cake in!


March 12, 2014

Heidi - I adore the way you make the common, uncommonly fabulous! I'm not sure which I love more: your recipes, your photos or your stories. I wish you would do a piece on the kitchen tools you CAN'T live without! If for anything else, just to see how you arrange and photograph them! Love and gratitude for your talents!


March 12, 2014

mmmm I am going to bake this tonight!


March 12, 2014

Love the sound of Bay and Orange together Heidi and will certainly give it a go, but I am also intrigued and wonder why you draw a line on top of the batter with a Tbs of melted butter?


Hope Anderson
March 12, 2014

Let's give credit where credit is due: to Lindsey Shere, the first pastry chef at Chez Panisse. Her Rose Geranium Poundcake recipe can be found in Chez Panisse Desserts. I've been making it for over 30 years; it's absolutely wonderful.


This is so unique---I totally love it!


Robin K
March 13, 2014

Made this last night and it was quite easy! I subbed in grapefruit zest and juice for orange and had to use just a regular loaf pan (lacking such lovely specimens as Heidi has...) - and though I thought baking time would decrease, it was on the money at 47 minutes. Gorgeous browning on the crust, too. Thinking about using rosemary like this sometime...


March 13, 2014

I have a bunch of Bay from the cabin I've been drying. Looks like this might be the perfect recipe to use it in!


March 13, 2014

What kind of squash is that in the background of your last picture? What are you/ did you use it for?

HS: Hi Natalie - it's a triamble squash. Right not I'm just enjoying hanging out with it, but at some point it'll get roasted!


Sophie James
March 13, 2014

Feel I've been waiting a very long time to make this cake. I love the idea of infusing the bay leaves in the butter. And your use of a pen knife - practical and pragmatic and wonderful. Sophie


March 14, 2014

Thank you for sharing this recipe. I read it, had to make it. Now there is one piece left, a yummy mid morning snack. Can hardly wait to get my own copy of David's new book.


March 15, 2014

making this sweet thing right now...using a 9 inch loaf pan..though there didnot seem to be enough volume/batter to make a loaf cake...will see in about 20 minutes!


March 15, 2014

I made babycakes of this with a sprig of sage instead of bay - it's what I had, and I love it with orange. The sage was subtle, and the cakes were fantastic!
I wasn't sure why the extra butter was needed so I skipped it, but I think it would have added moisture and flavor.
I'm also seeing David in Austin. Really looking forward to it!


March 16, 2014

I have never see such wonderful cake combination before, love the photo, the cake and the moulds too!


Kerensa Jayn
March 16, 2014

Baked this for our day trip to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park yesterday, perfect addition to a perfect day! Had been looking for something worthy of the beautiful fresh bay leaves I discovered in the market recently. This was it! I am enjoying the last of it as I write this, and will be making it again soon. Thank you for sharing this and the many other wonderful recipes that I always enjoy. +Kerensa


March 16, 2014

I just made this cake and it was delicious - ate three slices before even considering glaze. So buttery and amazing. Thanks Heidi!


I did not make this cake but I made your Birthday Cake with the almond paste and buttermilk glaze for a baby shower this weekend. Loved the crumb and almond flavor and could not get over how simple and quick it was to make!

HS: I love that cake too!


March 17, 2014

I made this for a dinner party for friends & every one loved it! I thought however it would have rose a bit more. I baked it the minimum time & maybe could have gone less. Regardless it was delicious!!
I will definitely bake it again.


March 18, 2014

Looks lovely, where did you get that wonderful cake dish?

HS: Thanks Deborah, I pick them up at yard sales, or antique shops, or when I travel....


Anne B
March 18, 2014

I am also curious why you pipe butter. What did you see/taste in the final product (if anything) regarding that step?


March 18, 2014

I love the idea of combining bay leaf and orange! It looks gorgeous, must give it a try soon.


Mary OH
March 19, 2014

I made this cake as the alternative dessert to Grasshopper Pie for St. Patrick's Day dinner at my parent's home. I used fresh bay leaves from my two bushes (will never go back to dried!) and doubled the recipe for a bundt pan. The aromas that filled my home as this cake was baking and my car on the drive to my parents' home were phenomenal! This cake was a total delight to the senses--sight, smell, & taste! Definitely a keeper!


aida mollenkamp
March 19, 2014

What a delicious addition to your road trip! Hope you had a nice time here in SoCal!


Angel Reyes
March 19, 2014

This looks absolutely gorgeous. I really believe the scent from the bay leaf/orange combo will drive me crazy while waiting. The anticipation seems almost painful!