Lemon Cake Two Ways

/ Monday, February 23, 2009

This past weekend Carrie & I took a trip uptown to her grandparent's apartment for a dinner quartet. The deal was this, the grandparentals provided the ingredients & we prepared the meal. Seems fair but I think I'm the one who lucked out in this situation: 1. I was able to cook in a beautiful kitchen with ingredients much more splendid than I usually buy (they were from Citrella!) and 2. I spent the night in the company of three delightful individuals. What a lucky lady!

For dinner I crafted a meal of potato crusted red snapper with a rosemary lemon butter sauce, a cheesy cherry tomato bake with baguette and parmesan & then some roasted asparagus. Dessert was the only thing I prepared in my apartment before the dinner party. 

Comme dessert, j'ai fait des gateaux de citron 

For dessert we had lemon cake with sour cream custard & pistachio stuffed peaches. The cake by itself is phenomenal. I had to leave the leftovers at the Stamler's so that I wouldn't scarf them down myself. 

The recipe is Ina Garten's go-to lemon cake. You can find it on the Food Network website, or just check it out below. This lemon cake is one of those recipes that has a 5 star rating from like 150 individuals. If you're a fan on internet recipe surfing...you know that means the cake is damn good. 

When you read Ina's recipe you'll notice she bakes the batter in two loaf pans. I chose to bake one portion of the recipe in a loaf pan and the other dispersed between mini & regular cupcake pans. If you choose to bake this cake in cupcake pans reduce the cooking time to 20 minutes. Either way the cake tastes wonderful so give it a go!

You will adore this cake if you like cake that is...
1. Moist (ew, I hate that word but it's appropriate) 
2. Slightly crispy outside but gives way to a soft interior. 
3. Slightly crumbly. 
4. Laden with a bright citrus flavor. 
5. Not too sweet. 
6. Addictive. 

Ina Garten's Lemon Cake 
  • 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.

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.

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.

Ina knocks out dessert recipes that are consistently delicious. If you're not looking for two cakes you can absolutely cut the ingredients in half to save yourself some time, ingredients & calories (not that we count 'em). Enjoy!

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