If there is one cake that I will never get tired of, it is a lemon cake. Acidity and sweetness make lemon cakes always bright and not too cloying or heavy. For that reason I thought I might bring it to Fiesta Friday (which now has it’s own home!) hosted by Angie, and cohosted by Tracy of Scratch It Cook and Nancy of Feasting with Friends!
So yes, please meet my favourite cake. Not the most creative or even, I must admit, the most well-tested and delicious, but a cake that is easy to pull together and not particularly offensive. (I would say a “crowd-pleaser” remember, this is pretentious writing so none of that here.)
I’ve had this particular lemon cake recipe for a while, and it’s been tweaked a bit along the way. I’ve also included lavender in this version, but that can easily be eliminated.
The cake base itself is quite standard and consequently, very versatile. I’ve made a nice orange black tea cake, and you may see a grapefruit cake next.
This cake has a lovely consistent rise. I love how it cracks so beautifully on the top.
The sugar can really build up in this cake, so I’ve reduced it here and there. Glaze #1 (soaking “syrup”) now is only lemon juice and no sugar. I quite like it this way; it’s a bit tart and it is only achingly sweet where you have glaze #2 (icing sugar glaze). On it’s own it may not be sweet enough (well, for my tastes anyways), so if you’re disregarding glaze #2, I suggest you increase the sugar in the cake to 3/4 or 1 cup.
Speaking of glaze #2…as I’ve waxed on about previously, the icing sugar glaze is a matter very important to me. I prefer to make a glaze that doesn’t appear opaque and white, but a bit translucent and thin enough to easily spread. It sets as a thin, crisp layer that surrounds the whole cake. I also make an excessive amount of glaze. Depending on your preferences, I’m quite certain half the amount would suffice. (And finally, if you have some lavender water on hand, it does decrease the acidity of the glaze, but it does wonders for the aroma.)
Cake base adapted from Chatelaine, October 2008, though I’m not quite sure how we got a hold of the recipe. Double glaze inspiration taken from smitten kitchen. In total you’ll end up using the zest of two lemons, and the juice of 1 lemon.
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
generous pinch salt
1 tsp dried lavender flowers
1/2 c butter
2/3 c sugar
zest of 2 lemons
2/3 c milk
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter a loaf pan and line with a parchment sling.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Crumble the dried lavender with your fingers and whisk in as well.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (assuming you can sufficiently motivate yourself).Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.
Mixing with a wooden spoon, add 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time, alternating with the milk.
Mix until fully combined, beating batter only until it is just smooth. Scrape into the loaf pan and bake for 40-60 minutes, or until an inserted skewer is removed with only a few moist crumbs clinging.
1/4 c lemon juice, or around half a lemon
While still hot and in the pan squeeze the juice of half a lemon over top.
Once the juice is absorbed, run a knife along the sides of the pan not covered by the parchment sling, and lift out the cake. Let cool completely.
1 cup icing sugar
sufficient lemon juice to reach the desired consistency (say, 3-5 tbsp)
1 small capful lavender water (if you have it on hand)
Whisk together the icing sugar, lemon juice, and lavender water. I aim for quite a runny glaze that will dry a little bit translucent, but not so thin that it soaks into the cake–it should dry as a thin layer.
Ensure the cake has cooled. Place it on a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet.
Pour the glaze, in increments, over the top of the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the glaze that has dripped down the sides of the cake. Aim to cover the cake completely , including all the sides and corners. Quite a bit of the glaze will drip onto the baking sheet (above makes a generous amount), but try to catch what you can and spread it on all the cake’s surfaces.
Sprinkle with dried lavender flowers or long curls lemon zest.
Let glaze set completely.