It’s been hot in New York. Like a sweltering, 95 degrees, 100% humidity hot. Like you can’t walk outside for more than 5 minutes without losing all motivation to do any of the things you were going to do, and instead decide to go back home and pass out in the AC. So when the weather forces you to stay inside on a lazy Saturday afternoon and you’re staring out the window, dreaming you were lying on a beach and escaping from the misery that is NYC in the summer, what else is there to do than bake up something delicious to pass the time, right?
I know, you were thinking the exact same thing! Truth is, the last thing I’d want to do in this heat is hang out in a hot kitchen, but I owed a co-worker a “we missed you cake,” and figured I might as well take advantage of the extra time I had from can canceling all my plans to be outdoors. Plus it was cool in my apartment, and baking was an easy excuse to stay indoors. I searched the pantry and refrigerator for any ingredients I could potentially throw into this cake, to avoid having to go back outside for a run to the store. Luckily, I had a tub of cream cheese and a few big lemons in the fridge. The correct answer was so obvious, lemon cake was to made!
I love anything with lemon. It adds a freshness that no other ingredient can really compete with. To me, lemons scream summer, from refreshing lemonade to pasta with lemon, to scrumptious, lemony baked goods. So with the AC blasting, I got started on my Saturday afternoon project. I was able to resist digging in while it waited in the refrigerator until Monday when it could be brought to the office. Though the icing melted just a tad on my walk to work, my coworker(s) still seemed to be very pleased.
Notes: Lemon cake is a classic, search the web and you’ll find thousands of recipes with every type of icing and every type of filling you can imagine. Since I had cream cheese, it made it easy to decide on a lemon-cream cheese frosting. But this cake would be just as good with a lemon buttercream or even simple lemon glaze made with just powdered sugar and lemon juice. The original recipe called for this cake to be a single layer cake, but I decided to cut it in half and add raspberry preserves to the center. I can imagine it would be just as good kept as a single layer because it is so moist.
Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Joy of Baking, serves 10-12
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup raspberry preserves
- 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups confectioner sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbs lemon juice
Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch spring form pan and coat with flour so it won’t stick. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with a hand-held mixer. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed and batter is light and fluffy. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder salt and lemon zest. Add the flour, alternating with the lemon juice, in two additions, mixing well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly on top. Tap the pan against your counter a couple times to release any air bubbles in the batter. Bake for 30-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center is free of batter. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Slowly add the confectioner sugar and beat until combined. Add the zest and lemon juice and beat until icing is fluffy and has peaks.
When the cake is completely cool, cut the cake through it’s center with a serrated knife. Place the bottom layer, cut side facing up on a serving plate. Spread the raspberry jam so it covers the entire bottom layer. Place the 2nd layer on top, cut side up. Trim the top layer, if needed, so cake looks level. Take a small amount of icing and spread evenly over the cake with a very thin layer. Place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes so that it makes it easier to spread the rest of the icing. (This is called the crumb coat – keeps crumbs from getting into your icing). Spread the remaining icing over the cake. It’s helpful to take large spoonfuls on top, and then spread over the sides with an offset spatula. Serve the cake at room temperature, but store in the fridge. This will keep for up to 3 days.
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