The weather here in Tennessee is erratic- one day hot and muggy, another day rainy and stormy, then a chilly day, and more than likely a week later it’s mild and lovely. It’s hard to keep up. At my home, we check the weather channel & step outside to determine what to wear…and then dress in layers, just in case. We are in the cold months in Tennessee, but in this region, it can be frigid or mild, depending on the day.
I would argue that lemon goes well in every season- sunny and bright for a summer treat as well as in-season as a winter citrus fruit.
I have made a few versions of lemon poundcake, because there is nothing like a moist, tangy lemon cake! This recipe is inspired by Ina Garten and JoAnna Gaines.(Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a conversation, meal, cooking lesson with these two women together?) I have made it for a few events, and it’s just so tasty that it’s worth zesting and squeezing a bunch of lemons. I pared it down from Ina’s even-larger number of lemons, but it’s still a commitment!
But with a good podcast or audio book, I don’t mind at all. This summer, when making this cake, I was listening to the very helpful, powerful and profound book, What Happened to You? by Dr. Bruce Perry, Child Psychiatrist and leading expert on trauma and healing of children along with his friend and champion, Oprah Winfrey. The question “what happened to you?” is the more useful and cogent question, rather than “what is wrong with you?”. The book informs the reader (or listener) about Adverse Childhood Experiences, how trauma is processed neurologically and how we can work though this in a healing journey. The book on audio is especially wonderful, as the text is written in an interview style (it’s like an 8 1/2 hour podcast) and is read by the authors. I bought the print book along the way, because I kept wanting to annotate and share sections with people, which, of course, is tricky when listening to an audio book.
Returning to the cake… it is filled with all the things I love in a cake: buttermilk, butter, sugar and loads of fresh fruit juice and zest! You make a sugared lemon syrup to pour over when it’s hot and flipped out of the pan, and then drizzled with a thicker, more opaque glaze as well.
Inspired by Ina Garten and Joanna Gaines
2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter at room temperature
2 ½ cups granulated sugar (divided)
4 large eggs at room temperature (if you need to speed this process, place eggs in a bowl of warm water before cracking open)
Grated zest of 3 lemons
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt (less if using salted butter)
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (divided)
¾ cup buttermilk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350
Grease, flour and line the bottom of two loaf pans (8 ½ X 4 ¼ X 2 ½ inch) OR grease and flour a Bundt pan.
Cream butter and 2 cups of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, combine the ¼ cup lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour & buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans (if using loaf pans rather than Bundt). Smooth the batter. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until cake tester comes out clean.
Combine ½ cup granulated sugar and ½ cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. When the cake(s) are done, let them cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack and set over a tray, and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cake(s) drizzling down the sides.
I love that you can make a recipe like this in 1 bundt cake or 2 loaves, in case you want to make one and share one!