April 1, 2011

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Maida Heatter 

My daughter has been asking me if there was such a thing as lemon cake.  She's four, so its a reasonable question.  I told her there was, and she, of course, wanted to make one.  I have always made Maida Heatter's Best Damn Lemon Cake as it's my personal favorite.  The title of the recipe says it all.  It's a pound cake of sorts, laced with ground almonds and glazed with sweetened lemon juice.  Since Maida Heatter is the Goddess of all things dessert, I thumbed through her other recipes.  The East 62nd Street Lemon Cake, a hostess and socialite fav, and Lemon Buttermilk Cake #2 were other worthy options.  I have made the East 62nd Street Lemon Cake many times and its delicious, but have never tried the buttermilk recipe.  Buttermilk not only offers additional tang to the flavor of the cake, but makes cake very moist.  It seemed to be a fitting choice for the old fashioned cake I was aiming to make.  As I had expected, the cake did not disappoint. 

She titles this recipe Lemon Buttermilk Cake #2 as she claims her original published recipe was struck by "demons"!  She said she received letters and calls complaining that something was wrong with her recipe, that it sank and was pudding like, and she could not figure out why.  This recipe, #2, is the reworked and rewritten version of the cake that she assures works just perfectly.  It did for me.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake #2 

Adapted from Maida Heatter's Cakes (Cader Books; 1997) by Maida Heatter

2-3 lemons, zest of
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

You will need a 9 inch tube pan.  I used a savarin mold.  The cake tends to stick, so I would not recommend using a bundt pan or something with a design.  If you do use such a pan, generously butter it and coat it with dry bread crumbs.  If you use a tube pan or savarin pan, line the bottom of it with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit, then butter and dust with crumbs or flour.  You must butter and dust the pan, even if it is nonstick.

Prepare the lemon zest and juice and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is soft.  Add the sugar and beat until well incorporated.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition.

On low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk, in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula to blend.

Remove from the mixer and stir in the lemon zest and juice. 

Turn into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean and dry. 

While the cake is in the oven, prepare the glaze so the sugar is completely dissolved by the time the cake comes out of the oven.

Remove from the oven and let stand in the pan for about 5 minutes.  Cover it with a rack and carefully invert it to un mold the cake. Put the rack onto a piece of foil.  Remove the parchment from the top of the cake.

Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze all over the top, sides, and center of the hot cake.  Let stand until completely cool.

Maida HeatterMaida HeatterMaida Heatter

Categories: Cakes & Pies, Desserts, From The Garden

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