Recipe: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
I bought a whole bag of lemons with so many recipes in my head. I guess you can say that lemons have always been a staple in our grocery list. I even just drink lemon water to help my circulation (it also has a ton of other benefits - helps in weight loss, digestion, helps in making your skin bright, and of course, a good natural source of Vitamin C). I'm sure you know by now that I loooove lemon recipes. I've made Lemon Sugar Cookies (recipe here) and Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes (recipe here). I still plan to make lemon scones and a lemon pound cake (since Starbucks always robs me of my money when I see lemon poppy seed slices on display in their pastry selection). So I was ecstatic to make this recipe... and also extra happy to have made it for my sister-in-law (Love you, Camille 😘).
With regards to the origin on the Lemon Cake, well... no one really knows for sure. The earliest recording was from England around the 1700's of a lemon pound cake. I guess it's fitting it came from there because they do love their cakes come tea time. But honestly, I actually thought it came from the Mediterranean where lemons naturally grow, like Spain or Italy or even California. In any case, I thank the genius who ever tasted the first lemon and thought, "Hey! This would be good on ANYTHING!"
You'll need the following equipment to make this pocket of sunshine: some mixing bowls, a hand mixer, some spatulas, an offset spatula, a baking sheet (9x13 or 10x16 will do), parchment paper, a whisk, and a cooling wire rack.
Lemon Cake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
2 tbsp lemon zest
2 eggs, large
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
2 to 3 1/2 cups confectioner's/icing sugar (Since this is a cream cheese frosting, it will hold well already especially when the butter hardens, it adds more structure to the frosting. So the sweetness level is up to you. I personally did 3 cups and I wish I had stuck to 2 1/2 cups instead, just to hit my spot-on sugar satisfaction-point level.)
Lemon Cake and Frosting Procedure
1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and lemon juice. Set both bowls aside.
7. In a bowl, using your hand mixer, cream together softened butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add your sugar in 2 or 3 parts (....more because you don't want to let a cloud of sugar envelop you like a coke or meth drug lab).
Crumb coat (a technical baking term to "seal the crumbs in" by smearing a thin layer of frosting on the cake with icing) the sides of the cake as well. Let this set in the refrigerator, chill for 15-20 minutes. Apply and finish off icing the cake, applying a thicker layer of the frosting. Chill for another 10 minutes.
candied lemon slices* (lemon slices coated in sugar, baked in 350℉ and left to caramelize for 20 minutes, then transferred to a wire rack for another 15 minutes).
*Here are some process photos for the candied lemon slices*
**You can definitely make this recipe to make lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting instead. However, for cupcakes, you will really need to use 3 1/2 cups of icing sugar for the frosting for it to hold well when you pipe it. This will probably make around 12-14 cupcakes.
***If you're feeling extra extra, make this into a loaf cake and add 2/3 cup of buttermilk, sour cream, or greek yogurt. Also add some poppy seeds as well (probably 2 tbsp). Use a loaf pan and bake for 40-50 mins at 350℉. You can definitely use the cream cheese frosting to spread a thin layer of frosting on top. If cream cheese isn't your thing, you can make a glaze out of powdered sugar, milk, and some lemon juice and zest. Makes for a great gift and a very welcome companion to afternoon tea.
****Because this is a citrus cake, you can definitely try oranges instead. Please just be very careful with the orange zest because the white rind is very bitter. If you've got other citrus options like key lime or even dalandan or calamansi (native to tropical countries... like the Philippines), give it a go. You'll never know until you try it. If it fails, then.... stick to lemons.
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