Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Cake
Yesterday, I went to my "to try" recipe file and pulled out a Lemon Cake recipe by Ina Garten. Master Chow said to put it on the repeat list. It's like a lemon drop; very sweet at first, then you get hit by a tart aftertaste. I'm a citrus fanatic, so I am pleased to find a very lemony cake recipe.
**Update- I forgot to mention that this loaf is very moist, and the crust caramelizes to a chewy consistency, with crunchy little brown edges. Delicious.**
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
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. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired. (Note - I highly recommend you use the parchment paper).
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 before you glaze.
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.
- Make sure the ingredients are at room temperature - the batter will be more uniformly blended if you do so, and the texture of the cake will be good. If you forgot to pull the eggs out in advance, just put them in a bowl of warm water (not hot!) for 10-15 minutes.
- Sift the confectioner's sugar! I forgot to do that and ended up with interesting little white polka dots in the icing. I choose to blame my goof on my canine companions, who were underfoot the entire time, hoping for a goodie.
- Don't be in a hurry to remove the cakes from the pans - let them sit for 10-12 full minutes before you unmold them. I had two different loaf pans - one was "nonstick," and the other one was Pyrex. Even though I buttered and floured both pans, I had a big sticking problem with the Pyrex. Next time, I will use the parchment paper.
- Another strange incident with the Pyrex pan: Even though I tested both cakes for doneness with a bamboo skewer, the cake baked in the Pyrex was slightly undercooked in the middle (exactly where I tested!). This may be due to the vagaries of my particular oven. In any event, follow your own cooking instincts, and take into account the type of pans you are using and the idiosyncrasies of your oven.