Remember a few months ago when I was drowning in lemons? I wish I would have had this recipe on hand back then. Not that having too many lemons is a bad problem to have, but finding a variety ways to use the juice and zest of 60+ huge lemons can be difficult. I made lemonade, lemon curd, lemon cake, lemon everything without even putting a dent in my stash before the hubs and I were completely lemoned out (if such a thing is possible). Long story short, I still have a substantial amount of lemon juice and zest in my freezer and only a few days in which to use it before we move to Chicago. This cake is particularly good for using up a lot of lemon in one shot, thanks to the surprising amount of juice needed for the batter and the soaking syrup; even better, though, is that it tastes so good, you'll want to double the recipe and give some away as a gift. Make it a day in advance so the soaking syrup has time to thoroughly moisten the cake, and so the initially strong lemon flavor can mellow into a pleasant balance of tang and sweetness. I'd also like to try skipping the final glaze and serving the cake with this instead, but this cake is perfect as is.
Lemon Buttermilk Cake (Adapted from Ina Garten) Ingredients
* 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature * 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided * 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature * 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons) * 3 cups flour * 1/2 teaspoon baking powder * 1/2 teaspoon baking soda * 1 teaspoon kosher salt * 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided * 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature * 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.
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. 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 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 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 cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray 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.