Welcome spring with this zesty lemon loaf cake that’s similar to pound cake with its buttery taste and texture. This classy cake will make you want to skip dinner and go straight to dessert!
I love cake and I love knowing even more that there’s a cake for every holiday or season. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate and mint, Christmas is all about candy canes and peppermint everything or gingerbread, whereas in spring and summer we celebrate all the gorgeous fresh berries and fruit that are bountiful.
This year I decided to prepare in advance for Easter and planned to bake a simple lemon cake to welcome the first day of spring in a few days time. This cake is fresh, zingy and will transport your taste buds straight into the new season. You may have figured out my love for anything lemon from my previous recipe for lemon herb rice? Since I shared a savoury recipe showcasing lemon it was now time for something sweet.
Back last summer I shared a buttermilk lemon cake that was slightly different from the one I’m sharing today because that recipe had buttermilk added the batter to keep it moist and the cake was drizzled with a simple lemon sugar icing. This time I thought it would be a nice change to bake the cake in a loaf tin as you traditionally do when you’re making pound cake. This cake is made in the same way but instead of a lemon sugar icing it just has a lemon glaze soaked into the cake whilst it’s still warm and fresh from the oven.
Another thing I kept the same as I did when I made my lemon buttermilk cake is that I made my own homemade lemon sugar. Using your fingertips you’ll rub the sugar and zest together until fragrant. Doing this enables the natural oils in the lemon to be released and your cake will have a stronger and more intense lemon flavour. This is a step I will always go to the extra effort to do as you can definitely taste the difference.
My family love serving this beautiful cake with Greek yoghurt and fresh raspberries. Eating cake with yoghurt takes my sister and I back to our childhood as this is something we would always do with leftover birthday cake for breakfast. Cake for breakfast is the absolute best!
If you prefer you can serve the cake with ice cream, pouring or whipped cream instead and top with berries or fruit of your choice. You could also try warming a slice of cake in the microwave, when it’s warm it gets all extra buttery and gooey.
230g (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
250g (1 and 1/4 cups) caster or granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest – approx. 4 lemons
4 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
210g (1 and 1/2 cups) plain/all-purpose or cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g (1/2 cup) caster or granulated sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 180°C / 160 Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with parchment paper and set aside. Toss the sugar and lemon zest into a large mixing bowl. Using your fingertips rub the sugar and zest together for a minute or two until the sugar smells fragrant. Add the softened butter and beat until creamy and smooth.
- Next add the eggs one at a time and mix well in between each addition. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix through. Don’t be concerned at this point if the mixture looks curdled and like it’s going wrong, once you add the dry ingredients it’ll resemble more of a cake batter.
- Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) on top of the wet mixture and then gently fold through until you have a smooth batter. Be careful not to mix the batter too much.
- Spread the cake batter evenly into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for 15 minutes. Now reduce the oven temperature to 170°C / 150 Fan / 325°F / Gas Mark 3. Carry on baking the cake for a further 35-45 minutes (turning around halfway through) or until a cake tester when inserted into the centre of the cake comes out completely clean without any uncooked batter remaining. After a total of 60 minutes baking mine took a further 15 minutes to finishing fully baking so my cake was in the oven for a total of 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes – much longer than the original recipe suggested).
- Once the cake is completely baked through remove it from the oven and set the tin over a wire rack. Meanwhile make the lemon glaze by combining the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring this mixture up to the boil and then once it’s boiling turn the heat down to low and allow it to simmer for about 2-3 minutes until thick and syrupy.
- Allow the cake to sit for 10 minutes then remove it from the tin. Using a toothpick poke holes all over the top and sides of the cake and brush the lemon glaze over all the cake. Leave the cake to cool to room temperature before serving. The cake will store at room temperature wrapped in clingfilm/plastic wrap or in an airtight container for up to 3 days – it may last for longer but in my house cake only seems to last more than a few days!
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
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