I love lemon desserts, especially lemon cakes, so when we went to the seaside over the weekend and I found our lemon tree overflowing with ripe, fragrant fruit, I couldn’t resist the temptation. Fortunately I stumbled upon the definitive lemon-cake-to-end-all-lemon-cakes recipe by one of my all-time my favorite cookbook authors, Rose Levy Beranbaum. This cake is even more delicious than it looks. Bursting with flavor and surprisingly moist, it boasts a triple dose of lemon: the bright-yellow batter is enlivened by a healthy dose of zest, the finished cake is brushed with a tangy lemon syrup, then drizzled with a sweet lemon glaze. Be sure to use organic, unwaxed lemons, preferably freshly picked from the tree!
Love lemon desserts? Here are some of my favorites from the archives:
- Fluffy Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes
- Ricotta cake with lemon and blackberries
- Lemon Curd
- Glazed lemon cookies
- Lemon and Basil Tart in a Pine Nut Crust
Triple Lemon Bundt Cake
adapted from Rose’s Baking Basics
- 2 sticks plus 3 tablespoons (270 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 8 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 5 to 6 organic, unwaxed lemons)
- 1 cup (240 g) full-fat sour cream
- 2½ teaspoons (12.5 ml) pure vanilla extract (or the seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
- 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (350 g) cake flour (sifted into the cup and leveled off)
- 1½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar (preferably superfine)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350ºF/175ºC. Butter and flour a 14-cup bundt pan, or coat with baking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with ¼ cup (60 g) of the sour cream and the vanilla. Mix until smooth.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the room-temperature butter and the remaining ¾ cup (180 g) sour cream. Mix on low speed until the flour mixture is moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 and a half minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and texture. Scrape down the sides. On low speed, gradually add the yolk mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minute, or until a wire cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed. Shortly before the cake is finished baking, make the lemon syrup (recipe below).
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a rack, poke the cake all over with a wooden skewer, and brush it with about one-third of the syrup. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup. Cool completely and then cover with plastic wrap. At least 1 hour before serving, apply the lemon glaze (recipe below).
- 95 grams or 6 tablespoons (89 ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained (about 2 lemons)
- 113 grams or ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Makes 2 2/3 cups (200 grams)
In a small pan over medium heat, stir the lemon juice and sugar until dissolved. Cover and set it aside.
- 115 grams or 1 cup (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) powdered sugar
- 21 grams or 4 teaspoons (20 ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained (1 lemon)
- 5 grams or 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Makes 7 tablespoons (100 ml)
Into a small bowl, sift the powdered sugar. Add the lemon juice and stir until all the sugar is moistened. Stir in the butter. Whisk the glaze until completely smooth. If necessary, add more lemon juice by the drop to thin the glaze. If the glaze is too thin, whisk in more powdered sugar. Cover if not using immediately.
Use a teaspoon to drizzle the glaze onto the cake.
Make ahead: For best flavor and texture, bake and syrup the cake 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container, or covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for 3 days. Cake will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days, or in the freezer for 2 months.