Friday, January 15, 2010

Lemon Cake!

Meet Rachel!  Rachel is adorable...  And effortless...  And British!  Rachel can wear hot pink tights and a feather in her hair, and look quirky and fashion forward (her cute accent doesn't hurt).  Rachel is getting married this weekend, and I got to partake in her Hen Night festivities.

I'll get to this perfect lemon cake momentarily, but first, we need to talk about the decor of this party.  I live on a happy little triplex compound, and my neighbor Dorien hosted Rachel's special afternoon.  Dorien informed me that the theme was "a pink 1920's opium den", so I scratched my head and offered to make a lemon cake, figuring that opium poppies would be hard to come by.

But a few days later, I audibly gasped when I entered the shower.  This is what a 1920's pink opium den themed party looks like...

Don't mind me, just futzing with my camera in my gorgeous outdoor living room!

Ok, now back to the sweet stuff.   This cake manages to balance the heft of a pound cake with the brightness of the lemon flavor.  The tasty lemon glaze makes a slice into what I imagine a lemon donut would taste like.  A few bites in, I knew I had found a trusty standby.

Start by creaming some butter and sugar, and when they're fluffy, add a few eggs.

Next measure out 1 cup of buttermilk.  In another bowl, measure your flour, baking powder, and salt.

Now alternate adding the flour and buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture.

When you're finished mixing, your batter will look a little something like this...

(Picture me making that sound that Homer Simpson makes about food.)

Now before you pop this bad boy in the oven, add the zest and juice from a lemon.

I give the batter a little taste at this point, and if it's not lemony enough, add a bit more zest and juice.

Give your bundt pan a buttery rubdown.  My pan is the Williams Sonoma Heritage bundt pan.  It was love at first sight.

 The lemony goodness bakes in about an hour, although you'll want to check it at 45 minutes.  To free it from the bundt pan, put a cooling rack over the top...

And flip! 

Now hold your breath, count to 100, think positive thoughts...

And it comes right out!

For the glaze, whisk together some melted butter, powdered sugar, and lemon juice.  Mine came out too thick, so I thinned it out with a little heavy cream (although whole milk would be fine too).  You want the glaze to be thin enough to spoon over the cake, without having to spread with a knife.  Pour the glaze over the warm cake (it'll absorb a lot of it, making the cake super moist).

Of course, our hero didn't manage to capture the glaze-making process on camera, but you get the idea.

Happy wedding Chris and Rachel!!!  Wishing you a lifetime of sweetness together.

Lemon Cake
From Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

A note about lemons:  I scored the holy grail of lemons by moving into a house with a Meyer lemon tree.  Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons, so if you use these, I'd start with 1 1/2 cups of sugar for the cake, and add a bit more if you taste the batter and it's not sweet enough.

Preheat the oven to 325.

For the cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup cream)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of one lemon

For the glaze:
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

For the cake:
Cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  The mixture should be light.

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt, and incorporate it into the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk.  Begin and end with the flour mixture.  Add the lemon juice and zest. 

Bake in a well-greased bundt pan for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the glaze:
Mix the butter, powdered sugar, cream, and lemon juice.  If you're using Meyer lemons, start with 1 cup of sugar and add until you reach your desired sweetness.  Glaze the cake while it is still warm, so that the glaze absorbs down into the cake.  Decorate with tiny curls of lemon rind (or stick a whole lemon on the cake plate like I did).

1 comment:

  1. Love the shape of the bundt pan! Very architectural. This cake is right up my alley.


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