We used to get lemon cakes from Boulangerie Premiere Moisson in Montreal. They came in clear plastic boxes with golden cardboard on the bottom (I remember it being so high-class), snugly packed but unable to mask the smell of lemon and sugar. We always bought one before we left and waited until we got home before opening it.
What I remember most about them is the extravagant coating of sugary glaze that became smeared onto the box’s top and side. The glaze would begin hard and crisp, but inevitably soften such that the whole top of the cake became a butter and sugary mush.
I have a lot of sugary memories associated with Montreal actually. Another one is a bit more arbitrary as it’s only personally Montreal-specific, but I also fondly recall my uncle picking up dozens of glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts, enough for everyone to eat a few too many.
Anyways, two glazes is what I love about this Ina Garten recipe found via Smitten Kitchen. Firstly the cake is soaked with a syrup, ensuring it is moist, before being coated with a powdered sugar glaze. It’s the closest cake I’ve had to my (blurry) memories of Premiere Moisson.
The only place it lacked, for me at least, was in lift–I didn’t get the distinct bump and crack down the middle of the cake, a feature (I think) I remember due to the glaze that smeared the top of the box. That being said, in a rich cake such as this, it can be more difficult.
Lemon pound cake
slightly adapted from the adaptation by Smitten Kitchen
1 stick butter
2/3 c sugar
2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
zest of 2-3 lemons
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c buttermilk or thinned yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a loaf pan, lining the bottom and two sides with a sling of parchment paper; butter and flour this paper as well.
Cream the butter and sugar together, beat in eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs clinging.
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 c lemon juice
Close to the end of the baking time, heat lemon juice and sugar over low heat until sugar dissolves. Once cake is removed, prick lightly with a skewer and pour or brush the lemon syrup over the cake.
Allow the cake to cool partially before using the parchment sling to remove it from the pan (loosen the non-parchment sides with a knife if needed) and set on a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
1 c icing sugar
3 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
Whisk together icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth to form the second glaze.
Once the cake has cooled completely, pour part of the glaze (perhaps around a quarter at a time) overtop. Use an offset spatula to guide the glaze down one side of the cake and to completely coat each face-focus on one face of the cake at a time, pour part of the glaze close to the edge and gently guiding it down.
Finish by pouring any remainder glaze over the top of the cake and allowing it to spread on it’s own.
Let glaze set completely before eating.