Monday, January 16, 2012

The Lemon Cake from Heaven

    I have a confession. I took this cake to my church community group last night. We each enjoyed our share with some coffee after dinner. I fought to remain content with my appropriate helping and proudly resisted a second slice. The end of the night came, it was time to go home, and there were a few servings left. I divvied up all but one last (large) slice, gave what remained to others, and made my way to the car with the good intention of freezing said slice for another night. A noble idea, right? Well, what happened next wasn't a pretty sight. As a matter of fact, I'm certain it might have been mildly horrifying if one were to witness. Before a moment passed (while driving, mind you), I was possessed by something terrible and forced to violently lap up every last crumb of that slice as if I had not tasted food in a month. What's worse, once the crumbs were gone, I sat idly in my driveway (my puppy glancing, confused, from the dining room window) savagely scraping from the plate what remained of the lemony frosting goodness. And so it was gone…the whole slice in a matter of moments. And such was the untimely end of last night's lemon cake. And a low, low moment for me. 
     This cake is ridiculous, definitely in my top three. Best on day two or three, the moist crumb of the cake soaks up the tart syrup and joins divinely with the sweet glaze to produce a little bit of lemony heaven. Ugh, so good. Especially in this season when most fruits aren't at their prime, lemons save the day in the dessert realm (ok, I'm a little biased…see exhibit A…and B…and C.). If you at all like anything lemon, please make this. Just beware of the side-effects.

borrowed from smittenkitchen who adopted it from Ina Garten's original version
yields 1 bundt cake

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
the zest of 8 large lemons (about 1/3 cup)
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup plus 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 5 lemons' worth)
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

1. Prep ingredients (make sure butter, eggs, buttermilk are at room temperature, and go ahead and zest and juice your lemons).
2. Heat oven to 350F. Grease well and flour bundt pan.
3. Cream butter and 2 cups of the sugar in large bowl with electric mixer for about 5 minutes or until light yellow and fluffy.
4. At medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, then add zest.
5. In medium bowl sift and mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
6. In small bowl, combine buttermilk, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and vanilla.
7. **Stirring as minimally as possible,* add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to butter-sugar mixture, starting and ending with the flour mix. Pour into pan, smooth top, and bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 
8. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice in small saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. When cake is done, remove from oven and spoon half of the syrup on top while still in pan. Then invert onto a rack positioned over a baking tray and spoon remaining syrup over the top side of cake. Let cool completely.
9. For glaze, combine confectioner's sugar with remaining 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice and spoon onto very top of cake so it runs down the sides. Serve (and remember to leave some for a couple days later when it tastes even better! also freezes well).


  1. YUM! can't wait to make this cake! Wondering if this is in your top three... what are your top two?

  2. Oh, my dear, dear Lane. If you consider eating one slice of lemon cake in your car a low, low moment, well then, you are a much better person than I.

  3. jan- i have to leave one slot for a cake yet-to-try, as there's always another likely to top the list. and then a dense, rich, chocolate cake covered and filled with more chocolate is almost always my number one. :)

    rachel- not the case. i ate that slice like a ravenous cave person. it wasn't pretty.