I would like to say it was all Wendy‘s fault because she asked me about lemon cake recipes, but fault also rests with Jen, who sent me a wee lemon cake over Christmas. So, these fabulous women are to blame, and I could do nothing more than make a lemon cake. Right? Right.
I asked Jen for the recipe she used, but given that I went a week (a week!) without sugar, I was determined to also cut sugar from this, wanting more lemon and less sweet. She used the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, and I started there, too.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/3 cup poppy seeds (optional)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tsp. lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Combine your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) and set aside!
If you are using the poppy seeds, toss them with 1 tablespoon of flour and set them aside, too. Why flour? Flour will coat the seed and keep the seeds from sinking through the batter, ensuring equal poppy seed distribution. I didn’t use them this time because I wanted solid lemon.
CI says to use your food processor for the batter, but I did not do this thing. I had Very Poor Results when I did a chocolate ganache in my processor, so now I just stick with my KitchenAid. In your mixer or processor, put your sugar. I reduced this amount by 1/4 cup (using only one cup). Add your lemon zest, and let those whirl around until you have gorgeous lemon sugar. Add vanilla, lemon juice, eggs, and then slowly, the melted butter.
CI recommends that you transfer this mixture to another bowl before adding your flour mix, but I did not; maybe flour will not get on well with your food processor, so beware. I added my flour in three portions, mixing until all was fully blended. If you are adding the poppy seeds, they go in at this point; fold them in gently.
Put your batter in your prepped pan. I put mine on a sheet pan too, because I had no idea how this would bake and I envisioned rivers of cake flowing into the bottom of the oven. I’m happy to say that didn’t happen.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 325 and bake for another 35 minutes. I was astonished this actually baked in this amount of time at this altitude — I really didn’t think it would. And though the cake sank in the middle, it was completely cooked.
Allow to cool for ten minutes.
You can also glaze your cake, because sure, mmm glaze. CI suggests 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice. I used 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Put these in a small saucepan and bring to a boil; your sugar will melt, and please always remember that boiling sugar is super hot. It’s beautiful, but please don’t get splattered.
After it boils, reduce the heat and let the syrup thicken — just a couple minutes ought to do it.
When your cake comes out of the pan (after its ten minutes), prick your cake with a toothpick all over. You can either pour your syrup over with great abandon, or you can be an artiste and brush it on. Either way, your cake is going to gobble the syrup up.
Allow the cake to cool entirely, or you know…eat a slice while it’s warm if you can’t resist. And what’s resisting? Well, resisting is futile, of course.