Of all of the cakes I make, this is the most often requested. It has been the birthday cake of choice for many a birthday here. This is the kind of cake that I wish Starbuck’s sold with their coffee, but instead they sell something that looks like lemon cake but tastes like fake lemons. This cake has a pound cake kind of texture with a tart lemony icing. It tastes like real lemons.
I’ve included lots of process pictures because the key is the right amount of mixing at the right times. I can’t describe that in a recipe. I’m hoping the pictures will tell the story.
You will need:
- 2 Sticks Butter softened (1/2 pound or 1 cup)
- 2 C sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 C buttermilk
- 1 Eureka type lemon to make:
- 2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest – use a rasp
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch tube pan.
Cream butter and sugar and the grated lemon zest until light and fluffy. This here means you need to have the butter at room temperature. If the butter is too cool, it’ll be hard, and you’ll be beating until it warms up to room temperature which will drive everyone in the house crazy because you’ll be running the beater a long time.
Then, beat in eggs, one at a time, beating in between to incorporate into the batter. See here the eggs are in.
Then turn up the volume and beat the mixture within an inch of it’s life. This is the same stuff… beat up. The color is lighter, and the volume of it has increased.
Stir flour, baking soda and salt together – sift if there are lumps, otherwise I do not bother. Dump the dry ingredients into the egg mixture.
Combine the lemon juice with the buttermilk in the measuring cup. Now turn on the mixer ….slowly, slowly…. and let the beater thing go around maybe 3-4 times while you pour in the buttermilk mixture.
See how barely mixed this is? That’s what you want. Use your spatula and fold the mixture two more times to make sure you incorporate stuff from the bottom and sides that the mixing blade missed. It should all still look barely mixed and a bit curdly.
Pour and scrape the batter into the tube pan. Smooth the top of the batter if you have large crags and uneveness but otherwise leave it alone!
Set in the middle of the preheated oven and bake for about 1 hour (start checking with a skewer at about 55 minutes) Tester should come out clean.
Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Put a cooling rack over the top of the cake, hold your breath, invert cake from the pan onto the rack.
If bits are stuck to the top of the pan, curse, and then gently nudge the bits off and patch the cake together. No one will ever notice or care (That’s what my family tells me so that’s what I tell myself)Put the rack on a plate or cookie sheet, and pour the icing on while the cake is still warm. You might want to take the “run off” icing and pour it over the cake again to thoroughly cover the whole cake. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the cake carefully to your lovely cake plate. If you want to put sprinkles on the cake for an extra festive look, now’s the time. I then pour the extra icing into the center hole in the cake for icing junkies to arm wrestle over.
2 Cups powdered sugar
4 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 Tablespoons tightly packed lemon zest
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice
Cream sugar and butter and zest thoroughly. Mix in enough lemon juice to get to an icing the consistency of gravy, or latex paint, or something drippy and pourable but not watery.