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I haven’t made anything sweet in a while and it was starting to feel strange.  And I’ve been intrigued by Ina Garten’s lemon cake for quite some time.  I saw her make it on her show a few months ago, and then I saw it again in one of her cookbooks recently; it reminded me that I’d wanted to make it some day.  It looked easy and classic, and I’m always up for anything lemon.

Lemon Cake (recipe adapted from Ina Garten)

For the cake:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • Lemon zest from 3-4 large lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher/sea salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.

Cream the butter and 1 cup of 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, one at a time, and the lemon zest.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  In another bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.

Pour into the greased loaf pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is baking and filling your house with lemony goodness, combine 1/4 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.  When the cake is done, let it cool for 10 minutes.  Remove it from the pan and set it on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over the top and bottom.  The top will get all nice and shiny.  Then allow it 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 top of the cake and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

The glaze really puts this cake over the top.

Oh man, is it good.  It’s tart and sweet, light and airy, and it has such a great zing whenever you get a bite with lemon zest in it.

This would be so great for a shower or party or tea with a friend.  Or you know, just a regular ‘ol weekday.