Bay Leaf Pound Cake Recipe

An incredibly moist and fragrant bay leaf pound cake from David Lebovitz's new cookbook. A perfect road trip cake.

Bay Leaf Pound Cake

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

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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 minutes - Cook time: 50 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Just exquisite.


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

Kim @ Cook with 2 Chicks

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! :)

Lisa @ Simple Pairings

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!


What a beautiful cake!

Marie @ Little Kitchie

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


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

herkkusuun lauasella

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


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


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


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!

Kristin | The Dinner Concierge

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.

Jennifer @ Delicious Everyday

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 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!


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 :)

Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

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.


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


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!


totally making it tonight

Faina of

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!


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