As my husband was preparing to go to work for a semi-overnight 12-hour shift on New Year’s Eve, I had a huge dilemma to solve: should I bake cookies, or a cake? I know, it’s a tough life I lead. But hey, if I was going to spend New Year’s Eve alone at home (ok, with the cats), damned if I wasn’t going to have a baking project to be the third wheel on my date with a bottle of champagne. That’s right Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noirs, I’m looking at you. *wink*
Often when I bake sweets I like to get my husband’s input to avoid making things that he doesn’t really like. This helps prevent me “having to” eat the “whole thing” all by “myself.” Back in Minnesota, I could much more easily drop extra cupcakes and cookies off guerrilla-style at a friend’s place, but here, I’m on my own. The problem this time is that when I asked him, “Cake or cookies?” he said, “Cookies.” However, he then semi-jokingly amended it to, “Healthy, non-fat, sugar-free cookies!” I am actually fairly confident that I could find something close to those criteria, but if I made them, he wouldn’t eat them.
So I made cake. Lemon pound cake in a bundt pan which my in-laws ever-so-kindly transported for me. Using the lemons they also brought us!
Nobody wants healthy cookies.
My criteria: lemony, contains only 2 sticks of butter since that’s all I took out to soften, and uses fewer than 6 eggs which is all I had left. I didn’t think that third point would be such an issue (seriously, Lady Bird Johnson, 8 egg yolks and only 1 teaspoon of lemon zest?)! It all worked out because, of course, Deb at Smitten Kitchen had posted just such a recipe for my enjoyment. Thanks, Deb! I trust her in all matters pound cake. And rightly-so; this cake was great. It had the right amount of lemon balanced with the sugar so it wasn’t overly sweet nor overly tart. It was dense without being heavy, and the syrup added the right amount of moisture. It would be a perfect slice to accompany an afternoon cup of tea.
First, we’ll need to zest about 6 large lemons. My Microplane and I had a lovely time and my kitchen smelled like a lemon Jolly Rancher, which isn’t all bad. We need 1/3 cup of zest for this bad boy. Once that’s done, take your naked lemons and juice them. It will come in handy later, I promise.
Cream together the butter and sugar. It needs to be fluffy, so just crank up the mixer and let it do its thing nearby while you’re zesting or juicing. It should take about 5 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350F while you’re at it.
Add the eggs, one at a time. This will take your pale yellow fluff to a rich yellow color. The zest helps, too. Sift together the dry ingredients and stir together the liquids separately. Starting with the dry ingredients, alternate dry and wet and add them to the butter-sugar-egg-zest bowl.
You can split this into two loaf pans, but what fun is that? Grease and flour a bundt pan instead. Pour the batter in and smooth the top. Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Mine took 50-55 minutes.
After 40 minutes or so, mix up 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of lemon juice in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. We want this mixture to be still-warm when the cake comes out of the oven. This is also a good time to have another glass of champagne.
When the cake is done, let it rest a minute, then invert it onto a wire rack set over a tray. Use a toothpick (or skewer or cake tester) to poke holes in the top of the cake, then drizzle the lemon syrup over the top. A lot of syrup will run off, so pour slowly, then rescue the spillage from the tray and pour it over the cake again until mostly absorbed. You can also use a pastry brush to dab it on if desired.
Immediately before serving, mix the glaze: powdered sugar and a little more lemon juice. I didn’t measure the juice, but just added it until the consistency was right. I also only used about 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar instead of the recommended 2 cups. Drizzle the glaze on top and let it run down the sides of the cake.
I’m not a good drizzler, so I just poured it in a ring and encouraged the glaze to run down the crevices. My glaze was perhaps more like icing and less like glaze, but it was still good.
Put it on the cake plate your mom oh-so-kindly got you for Christmas because it makes it extra fancy. It’s a better presentation, and you’ll impress the guests you’ll need to invite over to prevent you from eating this whole cake yourself.
Lemon Bundt Cake
Makes 1 bundt cake or 2 loaves
Adapted from â€˜Barefoot Contessa Parties!â€™ via Smitten Kitchen
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
~3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1.) Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour cake pan(s). If using loaf pans, line the bottom with parchment paper.
2.) Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing at medium speed after each addition. Mix in lemon zest being careful to break up any clumps.
3.) In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl or large liquid measuring cup, combine the lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter, sugar, and eggs. Then add about 1/2 the liquid, another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the liquid,a nd the rest of the flour, mixing after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
4.) About 10 minutes before the cake should come out of the oven, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
5.) When cake is done, let rest for a few minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack set over a tray. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke holes in the top of the cake. Slowly pour or spoon warm lemon syrup over the top of the cake. Let cake cool completely.
6.) Glaze cake the day of serving. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl and add lemon juice until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over cake, allowing it to run down the sides.