A few years ago, my parents bought a Meyer lemon tree while on a weekend trip to the coast. It was a young tree, and a dwarf citrus tree at that, so I knew it would be a long time before they got a healthy yield off of it. The culinary world is always raving about Meyer lemons and how amazing they are in deserts because of their light, more-sweet-less-tart flavor. So, naturally, I was excited for that thing to start dropping fruit. It’s been a long time coming…

Last year, it did pretty well and I remember making some very good lemon bars from what we got. This year the tree did amazingly well and has been spitting out lemons like crazy. Jackpot! My parents have been passing them onto me… a lot. When I surveyed the overflowing basket of them on the counter earlier this week, I knew I needed to find a way to use them up before they went bad, and knowing that Ryan doesn’t like lemons very much, I knew it had to be something I could share with work and family and something that would use a LOT of lemon, without being overwhelming.

I thumbed through a few cookbooks in my mountains of cookbooks and found this recipe from one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Ina Garten, otherwise known as The Barefoot Contessa. Her recipes are always easy, practical and pretty decadent and this one appealed because I could make multiple loaves of cake and give them away or if worse came to worst, I could freeze them for later. I didn’t have to do that this time around.

They were met with rave reviews at my work, Ryan’s work and my parent’s house. Even Ryan, the lemon hater, said it was good. Now, that’s a baker’s best accomplishment right there! I finally got around to tasting it myself at my parent’s the other night and I have to say, it’s pretty good.

I know some people who have lemons if you need them… LOTS of them. 🙂

Lemon Cake
Recipe by: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties! Cookbook

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

(I also added a tablespoon of Limoncello liqueur, which was fantastic)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans (I used 3 smaller disposable loaf pans). You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup 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 pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

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. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely. (I recommend keeping the cakes in the pans for the syrup-pouring portion, to allow it to really soak in and not drip off the sides).

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.


One thought on “Food Blog: Lemon Cake

  1. Louisa says:

    Man, I want a meyer lemon tree. You can’t have citrus shipped into Florida. Damn canker. I miss you. 🙂 Oh yeah, and I love Ina! She’s my favorite too!

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