I noticed my problem as I was flipping through magazines and cookbooks trying to decide on a dessert for an upcoming barbeque. I knew I wanted something manageable at an outdoor party, a treat that could be eaten with one’s fingers while holding a napkin rather than dirtying a plate and fork. As I flipped pages and placed stickies on the recipes of interest I started to notice a trend - lemon cupcakes with raspberry glaze, lemon cream cheese bars, lemon cooler cookies - lemon, lemon, lemon. Hmmm...
The issue became even more apparent when I opened my drafts folder and came across two more lemon recipes that have graced our kitchen in the last month, Lemon Drenched Lemon Cakes and Lemon Bundt Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup. Clearly, I have a problem. I’ve since decided to go with chocolate for the barbeque...I think.
In my defense, there are some things that you should know about lemon cakes (besides the obvious, which is that they are delicious) - and the first is that there are so many variations that one can make a different lemon cake recipe every week and never get bored. I promise. Take, for example, the Lemon Drenched Lemon Cakes that I found on Joy’s site, which she herself declares are the best pound-type cake she’s ever had. Ever. Who can resist trying that recipe?
And then there’s the Lemon Bundt Cake that Food Network named one of the top 7 Cakes For All Occasions. And they just had to go and drizzle it with a Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup. I dare you to defy that temptation. I certainly gave in and made it over Memorial Day weekend for a cook-out at a friend’s house. It was delicious, even though I made it the day before (as recommended) but didn’t have the proper cake covering apparatus that would have kept it from getting a little dry. Its a good thing there was that syrup to pour all over the top...
Another thing you should know about lemon cakes is that they are very refreshing. This makes them especially tempting when the event for which the cake is planned will take place outdoors, during the hot Virginia summer, after a few rounds of rowdy backyard games. And, they pair nicely with a chilled glass of white wine, always a bonus. That argument alone makes me want to ditch my chocolate cupcake idea for next week's barbeque...what do you think?
So, dear readers, I fear that I lack the proper motivation to get over this little addiction of mine, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. Which means you may be subjected to additional lemon cake recipes in the future, most likely several before the end of the summer. There are worse things, I suppose.
This recipe makes 2 cakes. After reading some comments from Joy's readers I would not recommend trying to bake this cake in any pan other than loaf pans. Also, I used ALL of the syrup. I just kept brushing layer upon layer of syrup over the tops of the cakes, allowing each application to soak in before adding another. And, when there was just a bit left in the bowl, I poured it onto the serving plate and plopped the cakes right on top of it, allowing the bottoms to soak it up and get nice and lemon-y. If you're not a lemon fanatic like me, you might want to only use 1/2 the syrup.
Lemon Drenched Lemon Cakes
Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan via Joy the Baker. Be sure to check out the lovely pictures of this cake on Joy's site, since I was a bit of a slacker and didn't get many...
- 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2-1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2-1/3 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
- 6 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
- 1 stick, plus 7 tbsp unsalted butter (15 tbsp total), melted and cooled
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- juice of two lemons
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9x5-inch loaf pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Even if the pans are nonstick, it’s a good idea to butter and flour them.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Put the sugar and the lemon zest in a large bowl, working with your fingers, rub them together until the sugar is moist and thoroughly imbued with the fragrance of lemon.
- Add the eggs and whisk them into the sugar, beating until they are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the extract, then whisk in the cream. Continuing with the whisk, or switching to a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 additions; the batter will be smooth and thick. Finish by folding in the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions. Pour the batter into the pans, smoothing with a rubber spatula.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. As soon as the cake goes into the oven, make the syrup. After about 30 minutes in the oven, check the cakes for color- if they are browning too quickly, cover them lightly with foil tents.
- Stir the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts, then bring to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and let cool.
- When the cakes test done, transfer them to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding them and turning them right side up on the rack. Place the rack over a baking sheet lined with wax paper and, using a thin skewer, cake tester or thin-bladed sharp knife, poke holes all over the cakes. Brush the cakes all over with the syrup, working slowly so that the cakes sop it up. Leave the cakes on the rack to cool to room temperature.
The recipe recommends that you make this cake the day before you plan to consume it. If you do, be sure to wrap it very well to keep it fresh overnight, or keep it in a cake dome. My gentle tenting over a dinner plate didn't work so well. And don't spoon the glaze over it until you are ready to serve.
Lemon Bundt Cake with Strawberry Sauce
recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com
- 3-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted (I used 1/2 cake flour and 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- zest from one lemon, finely grated
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- about 6oz of fresh or frozen rhubarb, chopped finely
- 1-1/2 cups strawberry jam
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously brush the bundt pan with butter and dust with flour.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk the sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla and set aside.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar together in another bowl, stirring vigorously to lighten the eggs. Gradually whisk in the oil until evenly combined. Add the sour cream mixture and stir together. Add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined but still a bit lumpy. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake the cake until it pulls away from the sides of the pan and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes; then unmold cake onto a rack placed over a baking sheet. Cool. (The cake can be prepared to this point a day ahead.)
- When ready to serve. Combine the rhubarb, jam, lemon juice and salt in a small saucepan and simmer until the rhubarb gets translucent and syrupy, almost jewel like,, about 10 minutes. Add a bit of water, if the glaze gets too thick . Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool slightly. Spoon some of the glaze over the top of the cake, and reserve the rest for serving with sliced cake. Serve with fresh strawberries.