Every year, like clockwork I spend January going on an absolute citrus binge. It starts innocently enough with a box of Spanish clementines purchased for the awesome price of $6.99 during the first week of January and then it usually manifests into something akin to me lugging 18 pounds of grapefruits, blood oranges, and Meyer lemons, from Whole Foods onto the subway because I just can't resist (I will never be known for my excellent willpower).
The only logical thing to do when you are starring at bowls and fridge drawers filled with Meyer lemons is make a lemon cake since we might as well use as much lemon as possible. This cake does just that since its a combination of lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon syrup, lemon glaze, and if you want to take things to a whole other level then there is also candied lemon (go big or go home) . You would think eating a slice would make your mouth pucker like nothing else but really, it's surprisingly mellow due to the addition of buttermilk which lends a brilliant level of tang and moistness to the cake. I suggest serving with a cup of afternoon tea in an attempt to chase away the (bitterly) cold winter blues.
Recipe from Ina Garten
The only change I made her was to halve it (because I really don't need 2 cakes lying around especially with a wedding coming up) and baking it in a cake pan instead of a loaf pan since I think it makes for a prettier presentation. The candied lemon recipe can be found here. They aren't necessary but who can resist something so beautiful. Not to mention candying lemons is super easy. This cake allows Meyer lemons to shine so if you can get your hands on them this is the place to use them but regular lemons work just as well.
For the cake
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
2 large or extra-large eggs, at room temperature
5 – 6 tablespoons grated lemon zest (3 to 4 large lemons)
1 ½ cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the glaze
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans or one 9 inch round cake pan. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.
Cream the butter and 1 cup granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (if a loaf) or about 30 – 35 minutes (if using a cake pan), until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine ¼ cup granulated sugar with ¼ cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and set it on a rack set over a tray, parchment, or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.