Thursday, February 05, 2009

Relaxing with Lemon Cake

Some people put their feet up in from of the TV when they need to relax, others go for a walk or have a warm bath, but not me, I head for the kitchen.

Last week was a particularly busy one around here and to cap it off, I babysat for a friend on Friday afternoon. I had a four-year-old, a three-year-old, a two-year-old and little Mateo, bouncing around the place and my, it was busy! My nerves were a little shot by the time Danny got home from work and so after dinner he graciously bathed both boys and put them to bed while I headed to the kitchen. I was in need of some baking therapy and I had the perfect recipe to try: Lemon-Drenched Lemon Cake from Joy the Baker.

Joy is no stranger to turning to the kitchen after a rough day and she always knows the best remedy for finding your mojo again. I bet she'd make a great girlfriend; she would be the one with a listening ear and a plate of cookies at the end of a long week.

The lemon cake was the ideal way to relax and wrap up the busy week. It is a recipe simple enough to follow with half a brain, as I had that evening, and so fun to put together. My favorite part was rubbing the lemon zest and the sugar together; my hands have never smelled so good!

Danny joined me in the kitchen and did all my dishes. What a sweetie.

Light and tender, tart and moist, you need not ever look for another lemon loaf again.

Lemon Drenched Lemon Cakes

For the Cakes:

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

2 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 plump, moist vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved, or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

6 large eggs, preferably at room temperature

2/3 cups heavy cream

zest of two lemons, finely grated

1 stick, plus 7 Tablespoons (15 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the syrup:

1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

juice of two lemons

Making the cakes:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8 1/2-4 1/2-inch loaf pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Even if the pans are nonstick, it’s a good idea to butter and flour them. Place the pans on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular sheets stacked one on top of the other.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and the lemon zest in a large bowl, working with your fingers, rub them together until the sugar is moist and thoroughly imbued with the fragrance of lemon. Add the vanilla bean seeds and work them into the sugar. If you are using vanilla extract, add it later, after you have added the eggs.

Add the eggs and whisk them into the sugar, beating until they are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the extract (if using), then whisk in the cream. Continuing with the whisk, or switching to a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 additions; the batter will be smooth and thick. Finish by folding in the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions. Pour the batter into the pans, smoothing with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.

As soon as the cake goes into the oven, make the syrup.
After about 30 minutes in the oven, check the cakes for color- if they are browning too quickly, cover them lightly with foil tents.

Making the syrup:
Stir the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts, then bring to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

When the cakes test done, transfer them to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding them and turning them right side up on the rack. Place the rack over a baking sheet lined with wax paper and, using a thin skewer, cake tester or thin-bladed sharp knife, poke holes all over the cakes. Brush the cakes all over with the syrup, working slowly so that the cakes sop it up. Leave the cakes on the rack to cool to room temperature.


M. Housman said...

I love relaxing. I love lemon cake. Maybe I should try them together.

Ingrid said...

Aww, that was thoughtful of him. Not sure about your Danny but when my Honey does something like that it reminds why I'm sooo crazy about him! Usually he's just drving me crazy! LOL!

Culinarywannabe said...

Ummm, I can just smell the lemons! I bet I could eat that whole cake!

Helene said...

I'm the same. Even sometimes I start baking at 8 p.m. This is so relaxing like you said. Beautiful cake.

Roving Lemon said...

This is what happens when, as Nigella Lawson says, you believe the kitchen "is not the place to escape from, but the place to escape to." I'll be bookmarking this for when it cools off enough here to allow baking!

Mélanie said...

This looks really like comfort food... it makes me wish I could have a slice right now!
Oh, and I love Joy the baker's blog too!

CookiePie said...

Danny sounds like such a sweetheart! There's nothing like zoning out in the kitchen after a crazy day -- and the best part? You end up with something soooo yummy, like your gorgeous lemon cakes :)

Cookie baker Lynn said...

That does look like the perfect antidote to a stressful day. Your husband is a gem! You really should make him some granola. :-)

LyB said...

Soon as I saw the post title, I ran to the kitchen to check if those lemons I bought last weekend hadn't died on me... and they're still good! Yay! Lemon Cake is getting baked in my kitchen today! Love those pics, Aimée. :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

It's only recently that I've come to appreciate the loveliness of lemon cake, especially in the midst of winter when our flavors are less vigorous. Lemon cake or cupcakes is a perfect ending to almost any meal, and makes a great tea-time snack when friends drop in.

Aimée said...

Hi M. Housman- Add a cup of tea in the mix and you are all set!

Hi Ingrid- Yes, he drives my nuts plenty of the time! :)

Hi Culinarywannabe- I almost did!

Hi Helene- Thanks!

Hi Roving Lemon- Awesome quote!

Hi Melanie- Thanks for stopping by UtHC! Joy has a lot of fans that's for sure.

Hi CookiePie- He appreciates eating stuff like cake, so he doesn't mind doing dishes!

Hi Lynn- Who's side are you on? :) I know I know, granola.

Hi Lyb- Great! I'm happy to inspire.

Hi Lydia- Mmm, cupcakes

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

Nothing is better than lemon cake!! Apart from maybe lemon and almond cake!! I've made this too and it's so so good!! Perfect at the end of a long day!

Abby said...

It's beautiful, and I love the smell of lemon. And how nice of him to do the dishes! (That's my least favorite part. Ha.)

Kevin said...

That lemon cake looks really good!

Ingrid said...

Love the new header! Especially the fat mouse!

Talita said...

So simple and delicious! Lemon have a flavor so yummy in a cake!

sexy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Katie ~ Simple Organic said...

Aimee, I am thinking of making this for a baby shower brucnh. Would it be good to make ahead and freeze? If so, would I add the syrup before freezing or after thawing?

Thanks! :)


Aimée said...

Katie- this would freeze well. Go ahead and add the syrup as per the recipe, but allow it a long long time (several hours)to absorb before freezing. Wrap the loaves tightly in plastic wrap and they should be good!

msquoted said...

Could you add poppyseeds to this recipe?

Aimée said...

Hi msquoted - Absolutely!Try about 1/4 cup. I like where you're headed...Happy baking!

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