So we've been over this. I'm not a real big sweet junky. I enjoy sweets, to be sure, but I generally don't seek them out and as fun as it is I save baking them for special occasions. So when we were graced with an abundance of fresh lemons, the missus decided that instead of making lemonade, we would make cake. Lemon cake. Proving that I am not the only one in our family capable of constructing a tasty dish, she put together this little loaf cake with very little help from me. I did help zest the lemons, but for the most part I just tried to stay out of her way, very important in a tiny kitchen.
She used a recipe from the wonderful little cookbook Baking With Julia, but added a couple of steps to give the cake a little extra lemony kick. Even for one of Julia Child's recipes, it's a pretty simple and straightforward cake, and good enough that even a picky, non-sweettooth like me would enjoy at least a couple of pieces. At least.
Lemon Loaf Cake
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Grated zest of 3 large lemons
Fresh squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/4 powdered sugar
Fresh juice of 1 - 1 1/2 lemons
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter (or spray) a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, dusting with flour and shaking out the excess.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and salt for a minute, until foamy and smoothly blended; whisk in the grated zest and lemon juice.
Whisk the flour into the eggs lightly, (the recipe calls for sifting the flour before whisking into the eggs. We did not, and it didn't seem to make a big difference.) There is no need to beat the mixture, so mix lightly while adding flour a little at a time until it is all incorporated. Whisk the heavy cream into the mixture. Then switch to a rubber spatula, gently and quickly folding in the melted butter.
Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the center of the cake crowns and cracks and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
While the cake is in the oven, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl until they reach the desired consistency for a glaze. Add more juice or sugar respectively as needed to thicken or lighten.
Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Remove the cake from the pan, and rest on a wire rack. After it has cooled slightly, (the cake should still be warm), pour the lemon glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to soak in and coat the top of the cake. Allow the cake to continue to cool.
Cut into slices to serve. Serve warm, or let it "ripen" for a day before serving. Your choice.
We both really enjoyed this little cake. It was just sweet enough, with a nice little lemony tang to highlight the sweetness. It's a dense, spongy cake, but surprisingly light. And since we didn't have anyone to share it with, the two of us got to eat the whole thing. Jealous?