Lemon buttermilk sheet cake

The zest and juice of fresh lemons gives this easy sheet cake a delicious flavor.

The Pastry Chef's Baking
The zest and juice of fresh lemons gives this easy sheet cake a delicious flavor.

Got buttermilk? Got lemons? Then you’ll find it really easy to make this lemon buttermilk sheet cake. I still had lemons from my sporadic lemon harvest and I also had buttermilk from when I made banana bread to bring to my relatives in Winnipeg. And you can’t go wrong with a sheet cake if you want to put together something quick and easy.

What “dresses up” this simple sheet cake is the lemon sugar on top. Which is basically lemon zest rubbed into granulated sugar. You reserve 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top and put the rest into the batter itself. I recommend increasing the amount of zest (if you like lemon, you can rarely have too much zest) and capturing a good portion of that zest into the reserved 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top. Otherwise you’re just going to have sugar on top of icing when you really want lemony sugar and sugared lemon zest instead.

This has a really nice crumb, light and cakey. It wasn’t as lemony as I would’ve liked though. Most of the lemon flavor came from the icing since I used lemon juice to whisk into the powdered sugar. That argues again for using more lemon zest in the batter. But otherwise, this is a nice picnic cake to help feed a crowd. When I have a lot of people to cover in dessert, while chocolate is typically the most requested flavor, lemon often comes in a very close second.

Lemon buttermilk sheet cake
From Jay's Baking Me Crazy

2-1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 3 lemons
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

For the Glaze:
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray,

2. In a large bowl, combine cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, mix lemon zest and sugar together until moist and fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer 1/4 cup of mixture to a small bowl and set aside,

4. In a liquid measuring cup, combine buttermilk, lemon juice and vanilla.

5. Add butter to remaining sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

6. Beat in eggs and yolk, one at a time, until combined.

7. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, mixing until just combined after each addition. Do not overmix.

8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Do not overbake. Let cake cool for 10 minutes.

9. Meanwhile, prepare glaze by combining ingredients together and whisking until smooth. Pour over warm cake and sprinkle with reserved lemon sugar.

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