One of the best things about Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake recipe is that it makes two loaves, so you can bring one loaf to a friend’s house and keep one loaf for yourself...
joy of joys!
As your friends bite into the moist, mouth-puckering sweetness, they will never know that you have one more untouched lemon cake sitting at home on your counter. They will only find out about your little lemon cake secret if you just can’t take the guilt and you burst out smiling, your mouth filled with lemon cake, and exclaim, “I made two loaves and only brought one, ha ha ha!"
Your friends will also never know why this cake is so delectably lemony, unless of course you tell them the jaw-dropping secret: after the cakes have been baked and removed from the loaf pans, you turn them over and pour a sweet lemon syrup into them. The cake soaks up the syrup and stays moist and lemony for all times.
Isn't that fascinating? I daresay that the cake-baking aspect of my life will never again be the same, now that I have been exposed to this mind-blowing cake-moistening process. When I saw the Barefoot Contessa do this on TV, I was speechless for at least three minutes until I rose and exclaimed, "I must have some lemon cake!"
Lemon Cake, adapted from Ina Garten
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
½ cup lemon juice
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans. (I sometimes use smaller loaf pans for cute little lemon cakes loaves. Make sure to shorten the baking time if you use the baby loaf pans.)
Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small bowl. Microwave for one minute and stire until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them down UPSIDE-DOWN on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely. Make sure when you turn them right-side up that you don’t let the top of the cake stick to the rack, or the tops of your cakes will not be as pretty as you want them to be.
Slices say, "Lest you become overwhelmed with the steps, persevere! Don't skip the syrup or the glaze! The extra steps are worth it!"For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
Watching the glaze dribble down the sides is one of the best parts. Let us please be reminded to not take it for granted that life allows you wonderful moments such as watching glaze drip down the sides of cakes.