I had made her Lemon cake for the first time several years ago, and I am still amazed that I did not post how well the cake had turned out (well it was more my fault - I just didn't realize I hadn't posted it by accident).
What was the occasion for the cake? An office birthday celebration. My co-worker (who looks younger day by day - I'm jealous), is a huge fan of lemons and has her own lemon tree. So I figured that this cake would be perfect for her.
Plus, she also loves the color yellow. Clearly, I made the right choice here.
The cake is simple enough to make and Smitten Kitchen is always my first source. Eggs are combined with butter and sugar, infused with lemon zest and then you add the wet and dry ingredients to get your batter. Once baked, your whole home smells like a lemon. I think I should open up a perfume store and sell cake smells. Think I'd make a fortune?
But what really took this cake to the next level was to reinforce the lemon flavor throughout the cake in the form of a lemon syrup which also kept the cake moist. Bonus!
Want to make it even fancier like the cake you see in the bake shop? We got the solution for that too. A lemon-confectioner's glaze that came together in a snap and just completed the cake.
No one can beat the triple lemon threat and suffice to say, my co-worker was one happy camper!
Ina Garten's Lemon Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 1 loaf cake
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar for the batter and 1/4 cup for the lemon syrup.
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/3-1/2 cup of lemon zest (8 lemons; depends on how strong you want the lemon flavor to be - honestly what's the point of making a lemon cake if you can't taste the lemon)
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (alternatively check out Joyofbaking for an awesome substitution if you don't have it).
1/2 cup of lemon juice - use the zested lemons
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of confectioners' sugar, sifted.
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease with oil spray a 9 by 5 by 3 loaf pan (in inches).
2. Cream the butter and sugar until completely mixed and then incorporate eggs one at a time and then the lemon zest. (The lemon scent will hit you and you will love it.)
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. In another bowl combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the dry and wet ingredients alternatively to the egg mixture and end with the flour. Mix until just incorporated.
4. Add the batter to the loaf pan and bake for about 40-50 minutes until the toothpick or tester comes out clean.
5. In the meantime, we are going to take this cake to the next level with a lemon syrup. Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves
* Extra lemon syrup left over? Not to worry - use it for your tea or any other baked good when you want that extra lemon umph - cupcakes anyone?
6. When the cake is done, let it cool and then pour a little of a the syrup at a time over the cake - it will percolate through the cracks and give the cake a beautiful gloss.
7. But it doesn't end there. We still have our lemon glaze. Add lemon juice - a little at a time - to the confectioner's sugar and make a glaze that is not too runny. Make beautiful streaks just with a fork and voila.
I didn't get a chance to take the final picture since my co-workers devoured the cake, but you can see the cake glisten with the syrup.
You know you want me. Come closer.
Oh, and just so you know, you're welcome for the lemon smells that will probably draw loved ones to your homes or your friendly neighbor who wants to make chit-chat but really just wants a piece of the lemon cake.
P.S. Okay, is it just me, or is Ina a superwoman in disguise? I think she is... By day, she is the chef, but by night, she is the mysterious wonder who saves everyone from disastrous cooking (and by that I mean just me).