Wednesday, December 19, 2012

lemon pound cake

This lemon cake has been months in the making. It's a recipe I've used before, adapted from the Smitten Kitchen recipe (in turn taken from Ina Garten) and it may be one of the best pound cakes I've ever had. It's a dense crumb with just the right hint of moistness to the whole thing and has a more intense lemony taste than almost any lemon cake I've ever had, barring those filled with lemon curd.

As it happens, lemon pound cake is actually Bunny's favourite, so I'd been fielding requests for this cake for ages. I'd tried to sneak in lemon cupcakes, but apparently they did not count. So the other week when his birthday rolled around I dragged my tired bum home from work and whipped out the KitchenAid, because clearly this was the only cake that would do. While it doesn't scream "birthday" it does scream "Bunny" and the fact is he's not a huge fan of layer cakes and frosting of any sort.

My alterations on this recipe are fairly simple, and the result of two factors I'm a little embarrassed about. First there's the change from buttermilk to regular milk combined with lemon juice which is sheerly a matter of my being unwilling to buy buttermilk. (I mean it's not even a byproduct of making butter anymore, it's all cultured. I just can't get behind that.) Second there's the fact that every time I've made this recipe I have misread the directions involving sugar, which has necessitated both a change in how I've listed the ingredients, and an adjustment of some amounts. Even with the extra sugar in my version, this recipe is by no means sweet.

The caveat mentioned in the Smitten Kitchen introduction still stands, however. The lemon syrup simply does not absorb easily, and it is necessary. Dribbling the syrup over the cake was one of the most labour intensive parts of this recipe as I had to keep it to a barely-there trickle to allow it to absorb.

If you're more fancy than me, you might make a lemon glaze to drizzle over top, or serve this with some sweet jam (I think raspberry would be lovely). If you're feeding a Bunny though, you'll leave this right as is. It's pretty darn amazing that way.

Intense Lemon Pound Cake

For the cake:
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • zest of 6-8 large lemons (as it happened, I only had four lemons on hand this time and the cake still turned out beautifully, but I do like the more intense lemon of the 6-8)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the syrup:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Grease two loaf pans and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, add the lemon juice to the milk and set aside. The combination together is remarkably like "buttermilk" as sold nowadays. When you're ready to use the milk mixture it may be a little bit, uh, chunky, but don't worry too much about that. As long as the milk was fresh to begin with you are golden.
  3. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes in the mixer.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon zest, and mix until the yellow bits are evenly distributed. If you're using a mixer you will want to stop and scrape down the bowl once or twice at this point.
  5. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. Add about 1/4 of your flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mix and stir to incorporate. Next add 1/3 of the milk and lemon juice mixture, stirring to incorporate. Continue alternating the flour and the milk mixes until everything is combined.
  7. Divide batter evenly among cake pans and bake for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the top comes out clean.
  8. While cakes are baking, combine the sugar and lemon juice for the syrup in a small saucepan. Over low heat let the sugar dissolve into the juice. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, remove from the heat.
  9. When cakes are done, let cool for about 5 minutes.
  10. Slowly drizzle the lemon syrup over the cakes. You'll want to have either a very slow drizzle to allow things to absorb. If any extra syrup pools in the corners don't worry too much; it will absorb into the sides of the cake.
  11. Eat, enjoy. (Possibly after a disgustingly large "dirty burger" or pulled pork sandwich)

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