Thyme-Cornmeal Pound Cake

A pound cake is the work horse of the Southern baker's cake arsenal. They come together using pantry staples, can be made ahead, frozen, transported to parties, dressed up or down with glazes and fruit compotes and, if they happen to fall in the pan, you can simply cube them and turn them into a beautiful trifle. No wonder we simply can't get enough of pound cakes. Give your favorite pound cake recipe a rest and try this herb-scented cake. This is a delicious and elegant pound cake that will make a lovely dessert offering at any event. Fine ground cornmeal gives this cake a nutty, toasty flavor and keeps the crumb tender. Fresh lavender or rosemary can be swapped for the thyme. As in baking any pound cake, make sure your butter is adequately softened, and thoroughly cream together the butter and sugar. Don't worry if your glaze seems to be as thick as glue - it needs to have that consistency for it to hold the drips down the sides of the cake. Let the cake cool completely before drizzling the glaze over the top or it will slide right off.

Thyme-Cornmeal Pound Cake
Photo: Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall
Active Time:
20 mins
Bake Time:
1 hrs
Cool Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Stand Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 50 mins


  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

  • ½ cup fine yellow cornmeal or Bayou Cora Farms Heirloom Corn Meal

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ cup sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 2 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 lemon), divided

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme, plus thyme sprigs for garnish

  • 2 cups unsifted powdered sugar

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk, as needed


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan with butter, and dust with flour; set aside. Beat granulated sugar and butter with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until light and creamy, 5 to 6 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until just incorporated after each addition.

  2. Stir together flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 additions alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating on low speed until just combined after each addition. Stir in lemon zest, chopped thyme, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan; smooth top.

  3. Bake in preheated oven until cake is golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan; cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

  4. Whisk together powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of the milk, and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl, whisking in an additional 1 tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Spoon glaze over cooled cake. Let stand 20 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

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