Lemon is a favorite flavor of mine and really reminds me of Spring. I was putting together an Easter goodie basket for my parents when I realized, I really didn’t have a good Lemon Cake recipe. I remember eating it as a kid but I don’t remember either grandmother ever making it. Research time!
I usually head to the Food Network website first, looking at the 5 star recipes and reading the comments. You can learn a lot in the comments section. If I read through a recipe and something doesn’t feel right, I can usually scan through the comments and get some tweak ideas. I found a great Lemon Cake recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. The recipe is for two (8 inch) loaves but I decided to use mini-loaf pans. The recipe is pretty straight forward. Plan ahead to have room temperature butter, eggs, and buttermilk. I did not have buttermilk in the fridge so I made my own. You can use one scant cup of whole milk, 2% milk or heavy cream then add one tablespoon of either lemon juice or white vinegar. I used whole milk but what the hell was a scant cup? Turns out, it’s one cup but measured just below the line. Since I was using so much lemon in the recipe, I mixed in white vinegar then let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. It’s not as thick at regular buttermilk and their will be little bits in it, but I didn’t notice any difference in the final cake. I was also short a couple of lemons so instead of 1/3 cup of zest, I only added 1/6th of a cup, or 2 1/2 tablespoons. I was a little concerned the cake wouldn’t have enough of that nice lemon bite. Since I was using the mini-loaf pans, I was careful not to over bake them. Even a sugary glaze can’t fix dry cake. I removed them immediately from the pans and let them cool completely on a rack.
I mixed up the glaze, a combination of confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice, then drizzled it with a large spoon back and forth across the cakes. I like sugary glazes…frosting, icing…. so I was generous with the application. I waited about 15 minutes before putting them in gift bags. The glaze will firm up and not smear or rub off.
They were a hit! The feedback was good in that the cakes had a good balance of flavors even with less lemon zest. They were moist, too. This is now a new favorite of mine. Check out Ina’s amazing recipe and give it a try!