NOT A HAPPY FAMILY: Shari Lapena’s Lemon Pound Cake

“A dinner scene kicks off the Not a Happy Family as the family gathers for Easter at the Merton mansion. I love skewering conventions of all kinds, such as Easter dinner, or any celebratory family feast which should be a time of joy and togetherness, but of course, often isn’t. There’s a lot of tension in this family at the best of times, but this is a particularly uneasy occasion. While they should be enjoying the turkey, stuffing, scalloped potatoes, and salads that their housekeeper, Irena, has prepared, Fred Merton is drinking too much Chardonnay, and things quickly turn dark. He drops little bombs, upsetting each of his children. As a result, no one stays for dessert, and by the end of that awful dinner, the stage is set. Someone brutally murders Fred and Sheila later that night. Since everyone at the Easter dinner departed before Irena’s dessert is served I suggest that book clubs enjoy a favorite cake of mine and Irena’s —lemon pound cake.


8-10 servings

Prep Time

20 mins

Cook Time

90 mins

NOT A HAPPY FAMILY: Shari Lapena’s Lemon Pound Cake


  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups plus 2 tsp sugar, divided
  • 5 eggs
  • 5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Gradually mix in 1½ cups sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
  3. Mix in 2 Tbsp lemon juice and vanilla. Stir in flour, and fold in chips, if using. Turn batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around insides of pan. Turn cake out onto a cooling rack. Place a rack over a sheet pan covered with foil. Place cake on rack.
  5. Drizzle glaze over warm cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.