I have several recipes for loaf cakes on my French blog. They will soon arrive here! All of them have different textures, and I think there’s something for everyone. But the other day, at friends, I tasted a lemon loaf–a revelation! It was the lemon loaf I had dreamed of and aspired to achieve. I was determined to recreate its perfect consistency: it holds together even when sliced thinly and remains moist even when exposed to air. I also wanted the cake not to rise too much and retain a geometrically regular shape, as this one does in its rectangular mold, without forming a large bump as it rises.
I had been wondering for ages how to achieve this texture, and I already had some ideas. And when I tasted the cake that evening, I resolved to reproduce it. And so we have this The Ultimate Lemon Cake Recipe.
My first attempts were not very successful, even if they tasted good. I decided not to beat the ingredients together: I don’t beat the sugar with the eggs, nor with the butter, as many recipe books instruct. I played around with the proportions to get just the right balance between the sweetness of the batter and the sourness of the lemon. And the miracle came about. I managed to make exactly what I was seeking to bake.
To finish, you have to brush it with lemon glaze and dry it rapidly in the oven.
I’m proud to bring you THE lemon cake I love, and I hope you’ll love it just as much.
For more sweet recipes in my first book, From Baklava to Tarte Tatin, click here.
The Ultimate Lemon Cake Recipe
- 1 stick / 120 g butter
- 1 cup / 200 g sugar (this is just the quantity that makes that recipe work and balances the sourness of the lemon)
- Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed or organic lemon
- 3/4 cup / 175 g eggs, lightly beaten – about 3 extra-large (US) or 3 large (UK) eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 150 g flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
For the glaze
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons / 25 ml teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 cup / 130 g confectioners’ sugar
For this Ultimate Lemon Cake Recipe, preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C). Butter a 6 x 3-inch / 16 x 8 cm loaf pan, or spray it with non-stick baking spray. Wipe off the excess with a paper towel. I prefer spray!
Melt the butter in the microwave oven or over a hot water bath. It should be entirely melted, not partially, as in the photo.
Pour the sugar into a bowl with the butter and add the lemon zest.
As I said earlier, it’s essential not to beat the butter and sugar together until pale and thick. If you do so, the cake will shrink when it’s baked.
Quickly combine the melted butter with the sugar.
Briefly beat in the eggs until just combined.
Add the flour and baking powder. Stop beating when combined.
Stir in the lemon juice.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. If you use a larger pan, just make sure that the batter comes no higher than ¾ way up.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. The cake should be a light golden colour and not too well risen. Test for doneness with a cake tester or knife tip, which should come out dry. Turn out onto a cake rack.
Immediately wrap the cake in plastic wrap so that it retains all of its moisture. It will be not only moist but firm too.
Allow to cool completely, still wrapped. When it has cooled to room temperature, prepare the glaze. Combine the lemon juice with the confectioners’ sugar. If your oven has cooled completely, heat it to 200°F / 100°C.
Peel the plastic wrap off the cake and set it back on the cooling rack with a plate underneath to catch the glaze that drips off.
Using a knife or spatula, smooth over the glaze. It should finely cover the sides completely–we don’t want a thick layer.
Return the cake, still on the rack, to the oven and leave for 8 minutes to dry the glaze. If you touch the cake now, the glaze must feel silky smooth and be very dry.
Allow to cool again and serve in thin slices.