Although lemons generally ripen in winter, lemon desserts always remind me of summer. Our weather is heating up and we're finally kicking winter to the curb. Last year, my lemon tree produced zero lemons. It started out promisingly enough, had a lot of blossoms and even started growing uber-tiny lemons barely beyond blossom stage.
Then the bugs, the soil, the wind or something said "Psych!" and killed off any growth except new leaves. Now my lemon tree is in its second year and this time, it looks like at least a few lemons might survive to ripen. I count at least three that are on their way to a healthy size and although they look more like limes right now since they're still green, I'm hopeful they'll morph into ripe lemons at some point.
In the meantime, my mom's lemon tree in her backyard, older and more prolific, supplies me with the lemons I need for baking. As a matter of fact, I'm going to have to search for more and more lemon recipes because she's got a ton. Fortunately, lemon cake is usually a sure bet and once again, I hit Baking Style for a recipe.
Now I've rhapsodized about Lisa Yockelson's brownie recipes but I should also mention her pound-cake-type recipes are also bomb. Rarely have they not turned out. In fact I can't remember when one of her pound cake recipes has ever failed me. And this doesn't either. If you like lemon and have fresh lemons to use, make this cake. It has the perfect pound cake texture and brushing it with the lemon-sugar wash ensures great lemon flavor and moistness. You can make it more summery by serving it with fresh berries as well but it also holds its own perfectly plain. Let picnic cake season begin.
Lemon Cake with Lemony Sugar Wash
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel
2-1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
1 cup unsifted bleached cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2-1/2 cups superfine sugar
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the lemon peel, lemon extract, and lemon juice in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.Lightly spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and coat with flour, tapping out the excess. (This makes a lot of batter so if your Bundt pan can't hold it all, put the excess batter in small ramekins and bake those as well.)
Sift the flours, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper and set aside.
Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on moderate speed for 4 minutes. Add the granulated sugar in 4 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat for 45 seconds. Beat in the whole eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 20 seconds after each addition to combine. Add the egg yolks and beat for 30 seconds longer. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Blend in the lemon peel and extract mixture. On low speed, alternately add the sifted mixture in 3 additions with the heavy cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl thoroughly with a rubber spatula after each addition. Beat the batter on moderately high speed for 1 minute.
Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan. Smooth the top.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until risen, set, and a toothpick inserted into the cake withdraws clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen with a narrow spatula and invert onto a serving plate. Spoon the lemony sugar wash all over the cake, including the sides, giving time for the liquid to absorb before you spoon more over the cake. Cool completely.
Lemony Sugar Wash
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Spoon over warm cake.
Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: Lemon Shortbread Cookies