Monday was my friend Olga’s birthday – she just turned 21! – and I volunteered to bring the dessert to her potluck dinner. I asked her what kind of dessert she would like, and she told me, “Lemon cake, please!”
So I did some research. I love lemon cake, but I hate when it is just a vanilla cake with a lemon glaze. I wanted an actual lemon cake. I recalled having a lemon cake at a friend’s house a few years ago, that she had made with sour cream, and decided to give that a try.
This was the result:
The cake is very simple to make. The only ingredients in the batter are: flour, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, butter, eggs, sour cream and baking powder.
But first, don’t forget to butter and flour your bundt pan. I completely forgot that I didn’t have a bundt pan – it got “misplaced” somehow – and I had to run over to my next-door neighbor, Wendy’s, house and borrow her’s. Make sure to thoroughly butter and flour this pan. I thought I had, and my entire cake stuck to the pan. Sigh.
Sift together two cups of flour and two teaspoons of baking powder, with the teensiest pinch of salt, and set it aside.
In another bowl, cream together two sticks of butter (one cup) and two cups of sugar. [Note: my regular mixing bowls were dirty, so I used this huge bright blue party bowl.....don't ask.]
Add in three eggs. Yes, you can only see two in this picture…but that is just because I added the last one after taking this picture.
Blend the eggs in thoroughly…
…until completely combined. Beating eggs, butter and sugar reminds me how much I miss my family’s KitchenAid mixer. This lovely handheld device (which, to be fair, is better than nothing) managed to spray butter all over my kitchen counter, floor, and myself.
Grate the zest from one medium-sized lemon, and…
…add it to the wet mixture.
Take one cup of sour cream and add the juice of one half a lemon.
Next, alternately add the wet ingredients (sour cream mixture) and the dry ingredients (flour mixture).
South cream. Please ignore the wonky photography on this post…I don’t know what I was thinking. Sigh.
Mix them together as you go.
Once all of the ingredients have been added, pour the batter into the cake pan and spread throughout the bottom of the pan evenly.
By the way. By the wayyyy. This batter is so ohemgee delicious. I ate so much batter…I wasn’t even hungry for cake. It is very lemon-y, and the slight tang from the sour cream prevents it from being too sweet. Luckily, there are many options for beater-licking, here.
Put the cake in the oven for between 50 and 60 minutes at 325°. Once the top is golden brown, you can test it with a cake tester, and when that comes out cleanly you are good to go!
Now. Let me show you what happens when I turned the cake out:
Erm…so. Why did this happen? I have a few theories.
(1) My little oven is so small that the cake pan had to rest on the very bottom shelf, right next to the burner. This is why the bottom of the cake is so much darker than the top. Perhaps this helped fuse the cake to the bottom of the cake pan.
(2) I didn’t let the cake rest long enough before turning it upside down. I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to let it sit for 15 minutes!
(3) Not enough butter/flour in the pan.
Luckily, I am not easily bothered by minor details like a cake that comes apart into four pieces. I figured I would just make some frosting, slap some in between the pieces the way you would a gingerbread house, like mortar, and cover the whole thing with frosting.
To make the frosting, you just combine melted butter, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and powdered (confectioner’s) sugar. How thin or stiff you want the frosting will affect the amount of butter and sugar you used.
Once this was mixed together, I stuck it in the microwave and nuked it for about 20 seconds. This melted the frosting to the point where you could pour it – where it would then stiffen up once it cooled on the cake! Exactly what I needed.
I patted some frosting into the wedges between the various pieces of cake, and ten poured the frosting on top.
I decided it needed something fresh and fruity on top, juts to balance the richness of the lemon cake, so I chopped up a box of strawberries, sugared them, and filled them center hole in the cake with them.
I have to say, I’m quite proud of this cake. I haven’t made a cake in years, I think!
It tasted fabulous, as well. It was strongly lemon-y – none of that weak, vanilla-like cake in this recipe! I like it because even a bite of the cake that doesn’t have frosting on it will taste like lemon, not just the bites from along the outer crust of the cake.
I brought it to Olga’s birthday dinner (that’s me slicing the cake, and Olga in the background, reading to dig in!)
The strawberry juice absorbed into the very edges of the cake….oh my goodness it was simply divine.
We brought the leftovers into our office the next day, where I confess I enjoyed a slice for breakfast and a slice as an afternoon snack. Then I had to run extra stairs to make up for it! But it was totally, completely, utterly worth it.