For a coworkers birthday instead of making the usual chocolate cake I made a Lemon Cake since the recipient doesn't like chocolate. I know. Crazy. Actually it was kind of nice to not make the same old chocolate cake again. I've made it about 10 times in the past couple months. It's a good one and a definite crowd pleaser but it was getting a bit tired of making so many appearances, and so was I. I don't think I've ever even posted that cake. Reminder that I must do that. It's the best chocolate cake recipe I've ever had that isn't insanely rich and puts you into a food coma. It's especially delicious in cupcake form. But what isn't better miniature? So with chocolate out of the picture I kind of floundered a bit. So many options. What to make? What's the opposite of chocolate? Fruit? Someone suggested lemon and I was sold. I wanted to redeem my last lemon cake which was admittedly very dry (it happens....). I also added poppy seeds which I don't think it needs. Better to be smooth and sugary and lemony. No crunchy bits. Anyway, I scoured the internet (taste-spotting) and found one that looked particularly good and the blogger who made it said it was the best she had ever tried so I figured why not see if I agree? It's an Ina Garten recipe which gives it some credentials (recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-cake-recipe/index.html) . I'm not sure I trust her so much with desserts let alone cakes but I was willing to give this a shot especially since the recipe had you pour a warm lemon simple syrup over the cooling cake. That's a good enough reason for me. Dry-cake problem solved.
The recipe was the usual. Nothing fancy. Had you alternate buttermilk and flour mixtures which I think always makes for a good cake. Why? I have no idea. The batter was incredibly mousse-y for a lemon cake so that was a good start. I baked it in a bunt pan which I love doing because it's instantly fancy and much easier than making layered cakes. After you remove it from the oven and let it cool for a bit upside down (cake part up) you pour a simple syrup made with lemon juice over the cake. The recipe was a bit confusing at this point so I just slowly poured it over the cake and let it sit in the pan while it cooled. I thought this will either end up wonderfully by having the syrup soak in all over the cake or this could end horribly with the cake turning into a mush and slopping all over the place, simple syrup flying as I try to turn the cake over and out of the pan. It ended up like the former which was a relief. It seemed also the the syrup mainly absorbed at the bottom of the cake and didn't really do much at the top even though it soaked in. Strange.
Once the cake it cooled all the way you pour on a lemon juice icing. Which is just powdered sugar and lemon juice. Amazingly good. So simple. To get it looking like you spent hours carefully spooning it back and forth to create the little streams of frosting down the sides? Spend about 2 seconds and pour the frosting just on the top of the cake and let it do it's own streaming. Trust me. It looks great and requires no stress or time.
If you're looking for a good lemon cake this is definitely one to make. Enjoy!
Photos by Collin Monda