Otis Lee’s Detroit Famous Poundcake

For 34 years, Otis Lee drew crowds to Mr. Fofo’s Deli, his Midtown Detroit restaurant, with sky-high corned beef sandwiches and lemon-glazed poundcake. Mr. Lee, who died in April 2020 from coronavirus complications, passed the poundcake recipe along to his son, Keith Lee, who shared it with The Times. This moist and flavorful recipe isn’t complicated, but it does require a few more steps than your average poundcake. It truly shines when the lemon glaze is poured over the warm, unmolded cake right out of the oven. (Do so on a platter, not on a rack. You want the extra icing to pool at the base of the cake, Keith Lee said.) Double the glaze if desired. (Watch the video of Keith Lee making his father's cake here.) —CC Allen
Course: Dessert



  • 1 ½ cups/340 grams unsalted butter 3 sticks, softened at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 3 cups/385 grams cake flour plus more for the pan
  • 8 ounces/225 grams cream cheese softened
  • 3 ⅓ cups plus 1 tablespoon/680 grams granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt


  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese softened
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • Lemon juice to taste


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch/12-cup Bundt pan.
  • Make the cake: In a large bowl, combine softened butter, cream cheese and granulated sugar. Using a hand mixer, beat on high speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Rinse the beaters and in a separate large bowl, add eggs and beat until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (The fluffier the eggs, the fluffier the cake.) Add the beaten eggs, vanilla and lemon extracts to the butter and cream cheese mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • In another large bowl, add cake flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt; whisk to combine. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. (Do not open the oven door before 20 minutes have passed, as the temperature shift can flatten the cake.)
  • While the cake bakes, make the glaze: In a small saucepan over low heat, combine cream cheese, butter and confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, and add lemon juice to taste and to adjust consistency. (Icing should be thin enough to drizzle, but still retain some body.)
  • When the cake is done, remove from the oven, and unmold immediately to a plate or serving platter. Pour the glaze over the top. (Doing this when the cake is warm helps the glaze soak in.) Serve warm or at room temperature. To store, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for several months.