Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lemon Cake

We all know the saying, “when life gives you lemons…”  There are some days, or in my particular case, some people, when lemonade just isn’t enough.  Right now I am dealing with a real sourpuss.  Nothing is easy with her.  Her knee jerk answer to any question is “no.”  Seriously?  Give me a good, rational explanation and I will leave it alone.  I have been working through one modest request and have been shot down twice.  Instead of taking another rejection over email, I decided to pick up the phone.  Lo and behold, it worked!  My charming personality must have won her over or perhaps it is harder to refuse when faced with the request “directly” vs. the “anonymity” of email. 

As my mom taught me, "kill 'em with kindness."  If that doesn’t work then I can always resort to bribery.  I am not above it.  So the next time life gives you lemons, make a lemon cake (or pour yourself a tall glass of wine and let your husband deal with the kids for a night)!

For other lemon treats, check out the recipes for:
This recipe comes from Barefoot Contessa’s Parties! cookbook.  It and the other lemon pound cake recipes that I reviewed were more involved than I imagined or maybe I just started baking too late at night.  This recipe yields 2 cakes so at least after all of your work there’s a cake for you and one for a friend.  The cake has a nice, mild lemon flavor like a tea cake but not super lemon-y like the lemon squares mentioned above, the cupcakes at Sprinkles or the lemon cake at Starbucks.  If you have a tangy lemon cake recipe, please email it to me.  I would love to try it! 

For the cake
Lemon Cake
  1. ½ lb (or 2 sticks) of unsalted butter at room temperature
  2. 2 C sugar
  3. 4 extra large eggs at room temperature
  4. 1/3 C lemon zest (~6-8 large lemons) – (or 1/3 cup lemon peel)
  5. 3 C all-purpose flour
  6. ½ t baking powder
  7. ½ t baking soda
  8. 1 t kosher salt
  9. ¼ C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  10. ¾ C buttermilk at room temperature
  11. 1 t vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease, flour and line the bottom of two 81/2 x 4 ½ x 2 ½-inch loaf pans with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  With the mixer on medium speed, add eggs one at a time and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  In another bowl, combine lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla.  To the batter, alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures – start by adding part of the flour, then part of the buttermilk, then flour, etc. until complete.  The last addition should be the remainder of the flour mixture.  Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, smooth the tops and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (mine took 55-60 minutes) before a cake tester came out clean. 

For the lemon syrup:
  1. ½ C sugar
  2. ½ C lemon juice
Combine these 2 ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.  When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes, flip them onto a rack set over a tray and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes (the syrup tastes like a lemon drop).  Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze:
  1. 2 C confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  2. 3 ½ T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a bowl mixing with wire whisk until smooth.  Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.  My glaze seemed thinner than the picture so I reglazed twice more with what slid off into the pan. 

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