I went home to cut myself a slice and...it was kinda disappointing. Dry-ish, not lemony, and lacking glaze (maybe this makes it healthier). Since then I've been craving a lemon cake. When I saw Ina's recipe in Barefoot Contessa at Home, I knew I had to try it out ASAP.
|the final product|
It's a pretty simple cake (coming from someone who only makes Duncan Hines yellow cake). And though it didn't call for that many ingredients or steps, I still made a giant mess out of my kitchen.
In 2 separate bowls, combine the dry ingredients, then the wet. Then mix the dry into wet slowly.
Ina recommends (it's in the video clip but not in the recipe) using room temperature eggs rather than cold eggs. She said it makes the cake lighter. I can't attest to that since I used cold eggs. I also used 4 large eggs instead of 3 extra large ones.
There is no lemon juice in the cake batter itself. Just zest! The recipe calls for 2 tsp which is approximately what you'd get out of 1 larger lemon that you can't fit your hand around. I really like lemon flavor so next time I'd be more zestful about my lemon next time.
Here's the "healthy" part. Instead of butter, the recipe uses vegetable oil. Looks weird at first but after some combining, looks like your box cake batter :)
Pour batter into a greased, parchment lined loaf pan. Bake for 50-ish minutes or until your toothpick/knife comes out clean.
While baking, I prepped the main flavor component: the lemon syrup. The easiest part of this was cooking the lemon juice with the sugar. The hard part (similar to my fruity shenanigans with peeling peach) was juicing the lemons!! I asked the hubs to buy me a few lemons and he must have some special skill to pick out the ones with the thickest skins and no juice.
Then I decided to try a common trick (on Food Network). I microwaved my lemon which supposedly makes it easier to juice. Yay! It worked. EXCEPT...the sucker was then super hot so then I still couldn't really squeeze it. Behold the lemon massacre of 2010:
What is a girl to do? Damn lemons.
I squeezed the lemons anyway and put it on the stove with the sugar. Heat until clear then turn it off and set aside. No problem. I strained the rogue seeds out later.
After the cake cools for 10 minutes, pour the syrup on top. This will give the cake moisture and a more concentrated lemon flavor. Even with the syrup, the cake is not too sweet. It helps if you poke holes with a fork in the cake top so the syrup can sink in.
The recipe also includes a glaze made from confectioners sugar and lemon juice. I made it but did not like how it tasted. Maybe my confectioners sugar has gone bad? Either way it was way oversweet and had a funky flavor so I left it out. This meant less pretty pictures.
The cake was definitely better than the strangely disappointing Bouley loaf. I noticed the texture was still a touch grainy or dry but I'm not sure if it's because I overmixed the batter or because there was no butter or what. It was still tasty and I didn't feel guilty eating it for breakfast...or feeding a couple crumbs to this guy:
Cook Time: 50 min
Clean Time: 15 min (during Cook Time of course)
Total Time Between You & Lemon Cake: 1hr 10 min