Easter is so late this year. Usually it has come and gone by now, just like the tulips and the hellebore and daffodils. It has thrown me a bit off, actually. This dissonance between my idea of Easter in the garden, and, this year, the reality of Easter in the garden. My idea of blossoms usually cut for my Easter table, and the actual blooms I will snip to adorn the Easter spread. I am so rigid sometimes.
Still, one thing generally stays the same each year...something tart and lemony for dessert. Last year I served this delicious (too delicious, I must warn you) Lemon Cake from the Barefoot Contessa's Parties! cookbook. It's a little bit time consuming, but worth the effort. Also, the recipe makes two loaves. You'll have plenty left over to have a slice with your afternoon tea later in the week. Sheer citrusy delight.
1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 extra large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6-8 large lemons)
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
For the Glaze
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 1/2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice (though I usually use more for a thinner glaze)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour, and line the bottom of two 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pans with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 40-45 minutes to one hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
When the cakes are done, let them cool for ten minutes, then invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
Check in later this week to see what lemony confection I'll bake this year. With a little help from my friend here, I'm sure.