Oh lovely lemon!
You make my mouth pucker so
That I may kiss you
— a haiku by me
I love lemony stuff…lemon drops coated in that gnarly sugar that tears up the roof of your mouth, lemon verbena perfume—the well-loved scent of Laura and Miss Beadle on Little House On The Prairie—lemonade, and any kind of lemon baked goods: bars, cookies, cakes, muffins. Hold me!
One of the first things my husband and I did when we moved into our new house last year was plant a dwarf lemon tree in a nice big pot on the deck. I tended this diminutive tree, watering her and fertilizing her and telling her of all the fancy things I would make with her bright yellow bounty, and, magically, little green babies grew into beautiful, fragrant, sunshine-colored goodness.
Now I needed to make the perfect dessert. I didn’t want to squander my beauties—I had to use their powers for good. Aaron suggested a lemon pound cake and I remembered the perfect recipe from Ina Garten in her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Parties! I like my lemon confections to be really lemony and tart, and this cake is definitely in yo face with citrus zing. There are three levels of lemon here: lemon zest and juice in the batter, lemon syrup that is poured on top of the warm cake, and a lemon glaze. It’s a lemon bomb with the most puckery lemon flavor of any dessert I’ve made.
If you love lemon, or just want to ensure you don’t get scurvy, make this cake!
Makes two 8 inch loaves
(I used a bundt pan this time, but I love the idea of 2 loaves. One to share and one to eat all by yourself when no one’s looking)
½ lb. unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (from 6-8 large lemons)
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 ½ Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8½ x 4¼ x 2½ inch loaf pans and line with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and 2 cups of sugar in a mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). With the mixer on medium, add eggs, one at a time, and then the lemon zest.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl combine lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide batter between the two loaf pans, smooth the tops and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour—until a cake tester comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the syrup by combining ½ cup sugar with ½ cup lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves.
When the cakes are done, cool for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack set over a tray and spoon the syrup over the top of each cake. Let cool completely.
For the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and watch with incredible satisfaction while your family and friends freak out.