When the kids were little, I used to make them specially decorated cakes: a pick-up truck cake with candy in the back (as if the cake and ice cream weren’t enough), a dinosaur cake, a cake that looked like a pumpkin (two Bundt cakes on top of each other, covered with orange frosting, with a bit of stem coming out the top), a soccer field cake, etc. As the children got older, the decorations decreased–but not the cake requests.
Of all the cake options available, this Triple Lemon Cake is the most requested (with the Mexican Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze offering stiff competition). It has triple the tang because lemon appears in the batter, syrup, and glaze. If I could find a fourth way to get more lemon into the cake, I would. But it is really nice just the way it is, and is a good cake for spring/summer.
Triple Lemon Cake
1/2 lb. butter, at room temperature
2 c. sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk (a good substitute: put 1 tbsp. vinegar in a measuring cup, then add milk to make 1 c.)
2 tbsp. tightly packed grated lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (the 4 lemons should provide enough juice for the batter, syrup, and glaze)
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
½ c. butter, melted
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. Carefully and very thoroughly grease and flour a Bundt pan.
3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending well each time.
4. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg mixture, stir to combine, add about 1/2 of the buttermilk, stir, and repeat, ending with last bit of flour mixture and ensuring it is well incorporated. Gently stir in the lemon zest and juice. Note: The batter will be thick.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan, smoothing the top as evenly as possible. Cook for an hour in the middle of the oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Sometimes, it may take longer than an hour to cook.
6. Toward the end of the baking time, prepare the syrup: melt the butter and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat, then stir in the confectioner’s sugar. Bring to a quick boil just before using.
7. When the cake is done, remove from oven. Poke holes in the cake with a long skewer, then pour the hot syrup over the cake. Let the cake sit for about 20-30 minutes.
8. Put a large plate (or platter) upside down on top of the cake pan and invert the pan and plate together so the cake drops neatly onto the plate. Actually, I have rarely had the cake drop neatly onto the plate; I just always hope it will. It usually requires a lot of jiggling and careful loosening of the sides. And even then, the cake doesn’t always come out of the pan cleanly. So, grease and flour the Bundt pan heavily beforehand, and use a liberal amount of glaze on the cake afterward, to cover up any less-than-perfect parts (as I did for the cake in the phot0).
9. Glaze the cake: the amount of glaze is entirely up to you; I start off with about 2-3 c. of confectioner’s sugar, then add a few drops of lemon juice at a time until the glaze is a good consistency (and then if it looks like I don’t have enough glaze or if it is too thin, I add more sugar and keep going). Sometimes, I drizzle a thicker glaze on the cake first (also good for filling in rough spots), then add a slightly thinner one for contrast.