I love this cake. It’s like summer on a plate. It’s light and lemony and luscious, with just the right combination of tart and sweet. It features a pleasantly lemony cake with a tart lemon/sugar glaze all topped off with a sweet lemon and icing sugar icing.
The recipe comes from Ina Garten, who has a couple of lemon cake recipes. This is the one that uses butter and buttermilk (as opposed to the other one that uses oil and yogurt).
This recipe makes two 8×4-inch loaves or you could easily bake it up in a bundt pan for a pretty, special occasion cake. The recipe could also be halved to make just one loaf, although it freezes very well so if you’d like an extra to freeze, you might just as well make the two and freeze the other one for later.
I’m not usually one to suggest organic produce, but I do for this recipe. I feel much better myself using organic lemons when I will be putting a lot of the zest into the bowl and I’ve found that they aren’t that much more expensive anymore.
Lemon Loaf Cake
Summary: This is a classic lemon loaf and my go-to recipe when I want something lemon-y.
- For the cake:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated white sugar (can increase up to 2 1/2 cups if you like it sweet)
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons – organic, if they are available)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For the lemon sugar syrup:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- For the icing:
- 2 cups confectioners’ (icing) sugar
- 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans generously and I recommend lining the bottom of the pans with parchment to make getting the loaves out a little easier (Alternately, bake this batter in a bundt pan).
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time. Add the lemon zest.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the 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 prepared loaf pans, smoothing the top of the batter.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely in the pan.
- For the lemon sugar glaze, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and makes a syrup. When the cakes are cooled, remove to a rack set over a tray, and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the syrup to soak in before icing.
- For the icing, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. (Will be thin). Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 45 min | Total time: 1 hour
Number of servings (yield): 12
Adapted from an Ina Garten recipe