I make this recipe every Christmas, but since I only make it annually, I always forget that I screw it up every single year. It’s a Barefoot Contessa recipe and I find that Ina Garten over-complicates most things, so I have modified the recipe slightly and revised the instructions to be idiot-proof for my own benefit.
Advisory: Even if you don’t have blood sugar issues, you are going to want to have insulin on-hand just to read this recipe!
2 regular loaves or 6 mini loaves
45 minutes -to 1 hour
- 2 sticks of butter at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup grated lemon zest tossed with one teaspoon flour (6 to 8 large lemons)
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup plus 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
- ½ vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise (optional, but worth the investment)
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
let’s make it!
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Grease and flour 2 loaf pans or 6 mini loaf pans.
- Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest (be sure zest gets evenly distributed)
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, milk and vanilla extract.
- Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Divide the batter evenly between the pans (I use an ice cream scoop to portion evenly). Smooth the tops and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean.
- While cakes are baking, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice and vanilla bean in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
- When the cakes have cooled for 10 minutes, poke holes in them with a skewer. *Remove from the pans and set them to a rack set over a sheet pan (I don’t remove cakes from the mini loaf pans if I’m gifting them). Slowly spoon the syrup on top of cakes, aiming for as little waste as possible.
- Allow the cakes to cool completely.
- 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. These lemon cakes freeze beautifully. (guilty pleasure: eating a hunk of cake FROZEN. Yumm!)
CLICK ON THUMBNAILS BELOW TO VIEW LARGER IMAGES
PRO TIP: The lemon rinds can be turned into an organic, Lemoncello Cleaner very simply with only a 2 liter bottle and 1 cup of brown sugar!