This lemon cake is a rich, moist yellow cake infused with the invigorating flavor of lemon, frosted with a luscious, lemony butter frosting. If you like the flavor of lemon, then this cake is for you!
I love baking with lemons at this time of the year because the smell is so cheerful and uplifting. If I am feeling worn out from all the holiday running around, a whiff of the scent of lemon wakes me up and pulls me into the present moment. Grating the lemon peel and squeezing the juice is pleasant work because it smells so good!
This is the cake my daughter requests every year for her birthday. The recipe is adapted from one I found in my reliable Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, tenth ring-bound edition. I have been making it for years, and though it tastes just as good as a single layer cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan, it looks so pretty as a double layer cake like in the photos here.
I am always amazed that such basic ingredients can create such a delicious and beautiful treat. Flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and in this case lemons–that’s all it takes to make something special. Baking is an act of creation, generosity, and creativity, and with it you can give something special and memorable to someone. Cake does not last long, and it is definitely not a necessity, but the making of it and the sharing of it will live on for a long time in memories. Sometimes we need to let the people we see every day know they are special. Everybody needs an extra hug or some encouraging words from time to time–or a lemon cake!
I hope you all have a great weekend, and take the time to breathe and enjoy this special time of year. We have fresh snow today, making it look like the trees are all decorated with this lemon frosting! Drive safely and stay warm! I look forward to sharing this cake with Angie and the other bloggers at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Sandhya @ Indfused.
Lovely Lemon Cake
for the cake:
- 3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of finely shredded or grated lemon peel
- 1 and 1/2 cups of milk
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
for the frosting:
- 1/3 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
- 1/4 to 1/3 cups of fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
- 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (or you can use vanilla extract if you prefer)
for the cake:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 9 x 1 and 1/2 inch round baking pans.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and lemon zest. Add the milk, butter, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed (carefully, so you don’t spread flour all over your kitchen!) until combined into a batter. Then beat on high speed for two minutes. Add the eggs and beat on high for two more minutes. Pour the batter into your two prepared baking pans, distributing the batter evenly. Bake in your 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the pans. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.
for the frosting:
While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting. In a medium or large bowl, beat the butter until soft and fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating carefully to combine. Slowly beat in the 1/4 cup of lemon juice and the almond extract (or vanilla extract if you prefer). Gradually and slowly beat in the remaining powdered sugar. Beat in more lemon juice, a little by little, if needed, until you reach the consistency you want for your frosting. Once you reach your desired moisture balance, beat the frosting till it is smooth and fluffy.
Place the first layer of cake on a large plate and spread the top evenly with frosting. Place the second layer on top of the first and then frost the top and sides with frosting, spreading and distributing it as evenly as possible. Be as fancy or as basic as you want to be with the frosting spreading and design. Carefully transfer the cake to a cake stand or leave it on the plate. Slice and serve. Enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, tenth ring-bound edition.