Lemon Cake

March 4, 2010

A few days ago, my friend Jenny generously offered up her old TV to Will and me. Before this generous gift, Will and I were the owners of a 14 inch tv with a pink tint over the screen. And built in VCR! When I drove my car around to her truck to make the pickup after work one morning, my mouth about hit the ground when I saw a BIG MOTHER OF A TV. It is awesome, and also hilarious because it makes everything else in our apartment look tiny. My aunt said we might need to move to a new apartment, “you know, for the three of you.”

In thanks for the TV, I asked Jenny what the components of her ideal dessert would be, and what she described sounded a lot like an Ina Garten recipe for lemon cake that I’d been wanting to try for a while. I knew when I tasted the batter it was going to be really spectacular. 

And it was. And yes I did use 7 LEMONS to make this cake. I actually had to take breaks from zesting. To be honest, this recipe was kind of a pain to make. But it was well worth it. Completely worth it. Unbelieveably worth it, actually. The cake kind of tastes like a lemon bar, but is more lemony and less sweet. It’s nice and chewy on the outside and very moist in the inside, I think from the lemon syrup shower it gets after baking. I usually shy away from glazes because I think they make baked goods too sweet, but this one was perfect. I only modified the recipe slightly: I increased the lemon juice in the glaze by just a bit, to make it tarter. And instead of making two loaves, I made one loaf for Jenny, and cupcakes for Will and my friends. My cupcakes looked a little awkward  (I accidentally underfilled the cups), but they tasted excellent. Anyway, this was a roaring success. If you like lemons, just do it. But be prepared to zest your heart out.

One funny thing about this recipe is that it managed to draw attention to every item I feel my kitchen is truly lacking in at the moment: a strainer, a sifter, a whisk, a juicer, and a standing mixer. I don’t really need or have room for a standing mixer, actually, but 5 minutes with the handheld electric mixer is about 4 minutes too long for my biceps. I guess a better solution would be to do more pushups. Or not.

LEMON CAKE (adapted from Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake)


For the cake and lemon syrup

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 extra large eggs (room temperature)

1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6-8 lemons)

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 (8.5in x 4.25in x 2.5in) loaf pans or line cupcake tins with 20-24 muffin cups. Cream butter and 2 cups of the granulated sugar until light and fluffy with an electric mixer (about 5 minutes).

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a different bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. If using loaf pans, divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick or fork comes out clean*. If using cupcake tins, divide batter evenly among 20-24 cupcake tins, and bake for 15-25 minutes, until a toothpick or fork comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, sift confectioner’s sugar. Then combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

*If you live at high altitude, bake for 30 minutes at 350, then bump the oven temperature up to 375 for the remainder of the cooking time.


One Response to “Lemon Cake”

  1. […] LEMON CAKE Labor intensive? Absolutely. The best cake I’ve ever eaten. Hands down. Even if you are […]

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