Somewhere in my youth I picked up the ability to look at a baking recipe and determine whether it was What I Wanted or not. I don’t know how I do this, but I’ve innumerable times gone looking for a recipe for this or that thing and gone through five or ten or more recipes for it before I found one that looked right. Sometimes I haven’t found one that looked right, so I’ve ended up taking the one or two that were closest and making the right thing out of them.
So it is with a bit of irritation that I have been for some years on a quest to find the Perfect Lemon Cake. My wonderful Meta Givens cookbook has one failure, and that’s in this regard: its lemon cake recipe is a yellow cake recipe to which you add lemon, and it’s just not right. So I’ve searched the net looking for the Perfect Lemon Cake recipe, and have largely come up dry: I’ve tried a few, haven’t been happy with them, have found far more which are box cake recipes, and I don’t make box cakes. (There’s nothing wrong with them. I just happen to like baking from scratch, and I honestly don’t think it’s significantly more difficult to make a cake from scratch than from a box, so I don’t make box cakes.)
A year or so ago I was at New Sagaya, a local grocery store. New Sagaya posts various recipes on pads around the store, and I happened on a lemon cake recipe this particular time. I read it, and I thought “…!”, for it looked right. I took a copy and brought it home and made it. It was, in fact, extremely good.
I made it again yesterday. Having done this, I am now certain I’ve found, if not the *Perfect* Lemon Cake recipe, at least an extremely excellent one, and until it is supplanted by a better one, I declare it the Perfect Lemon Cake Recipe.
The Perfect Lemon Cake recipe is as follows:
Cream 2 sticks soft butter with 2 2/3 c sugar, 4 whole eggs and the rind of 6 lemons. Add 1 c sour cream. Sift 3 c flour with 2 tsp baking powder & add to mix. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice and mix well. Pour into 3 well-greased 8″ pans & bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees, or until done. Glaze with 2c powdered sugar mixed with 1/3c lemon juice.
A couple of notes: you can make this cake in 2 8″ pans, but it tends to overflow a bit. I really recommend going with 3. The recipe calls for it being baked in a 10″ springform, but there’s too much batter. It’ll explode all over your oven.
Also, if you don’t have fresh lemons on hand, 8tsp of dried lemon peel works perfectly well in place of the zest of 6 lemons.
This posting is largely for my agent, the incomparable Jennifer Jackson, who is a foodie and who has a food blog called The Spice Must Flow. I have absolutely no idea if she’s in need of an excellent lemon cake recipe, but regardless, I am thinking of her as I post this. :)