lemon bundt cake
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love lemon. I know that some people think that you’re either a chocolate kind of person or a lemon kind of person and I think that’s ridiculous because I don’t think I could survive with one and not the other. OK, that might be mildly overstated. But I just really feel like both chocolate cakes and lemon cakes have their time and place. This heat wave currently hitting the East Coast would be the time and place for lemon.
Growing up, one of my favorite cakes was a lemon bundt cake that my mom made that’s drenched in a lemony glaze. The bottom of the cake was always the best part because all that lemon syrup welled up down there, creating the most delicious, gooey bites of lemony goodness. Unfortunately, that cake calls for both lemon cake mix and lemon jello mix and the thought of using either kind of makes me cringe a little bit now (sorry, Mom!). To each their own, but personally, I’d be much happier making a cake from scratch.
This particular cake is a triple whammy of lemon, delivering all the lemon that I crave (because I really, really like my lemon) in three different forms: the cake itself, a lemon syrup, and the lemon glaze. You know those yellow mesh bags of lemons they sell at the store so people making lemonade don’t have to juggle a bunch of lemons into their cart? Well, go on and grab one of those ’cause you’re gonna want around 7-8 lemons for this recipe and trust me, you’re gonna want to make this cake.
I had read in reviews that a lot of people making this cake had trouble making sure that the cake absorbed all of the syrup and I was determined that I wouldn’t waste even the tiniest drop of it. I poked the cake all over with a toothpick (an ice pick also works well) and stood there painstaking dribbling tiny amounts on the cake with my pastry brush, watching each drop absorb into the cake. I was concentrating so hard that I had completely lost track of all time by the time I finished (about 25 minutes later) and I couldn’t get my hand to stop shaking from having held the pot in my hand for so long (it was still shaking several minutes later when I sat on the couch and reached for my iced tea). I finally tipped the pan over, my hand wobbling uncontrollably all the while, to get every last drop. I was feeling much less patient the next time I made the cake and did it in much less time, and it still turned out fine, but I think I lost some of the syrup.
This cake is even better the next day, with a stronger lemon flavor. It’s fresh and bright and a wonderful replacement for chocolate cake on a hot summer day.
So, are you a lemon kind of person, a chocolate kind of person, both, or something else?
Lemon Bundt Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten via Smitten Kitchen
This cake packs more of a lemony wallop the second day. If you’d rather make loaves, you can divide the batter between two 5×9 inch pans. That way you can give one to a friend and keep one all to yourself.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 4 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
- 3/4 cup plus 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Heat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour your bundt pan.
- Cream the butter and 2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mixing at medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, and lemon zest.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves.
- When the cake is done, let it cool 10 minutes and then invert it onto a rack set over a tray or baking sheet. Poke it full of holes with a toothpick and spoon the lemon syrup over the cake. Let the cake cool completely.
- For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and remaining 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a whisk until smooth. Pour over top of the cake, and allow glaze to drizzle down the sides.