Our 2017 Recipe of the Year is a lovely golden lemon cake, extra-moist and nicely tangy due to its fresh lemon juice glaze. Baking this cake in a Bundt pan turns it from everyday to special-occasion, perfect for everything from birthday parties to an elegant dinner. Our thanks to Maida Heatter, grande dame of delicious desserts, for the inspiration behind this recipe.
45 mins to 1 hr
1 hr 20 mins
one Bundt cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Beat together the butter, sugar, and salt, first until combined, then until fluffy and lightened in color. For a visual of what this should look like, see our video, how to cream butter and sugar.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl once all the eggs have been added, and beat briefly to re-combine any residue.
- Measure the flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Whisk the baking powder into the flour. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three parts alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour. The batter may look slightly curdled when you add the milk. That’s OK; it’ll smooth out as you add the flour. Mix until everything is well combined; the batter will look a bit rough, but shouldn’t have any large lumps. Stir in the grated lemon rind or lemon oil.
- Thoroughly grease a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, leveling it and smoothing the top with a spatula.
- Bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. A pan with a dark interior will bake cake more quickly; start checking at 40 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, make the glaze by stirring together the lemon juice and sugar. Microwave or heat over a burner briefly, stirring to dissolve the sugar. You don’t want to cook the lemon juice, so microwave just until very warm, but not uncomfortably hot — less than 1 minute should do it. Set the glaze aside.
- Remove the cake from the oven, and carefully run a knife between cake and pan all around the edge. Place the pan upside down on a cooling rack. If the cake drops out of the pan onto the rack, remove the pan. If the cake doesn’t drop onto the rack, let it rest for 5 minutes, then carefully lift the pan off the cake. If the cake still feels like it’s sticking, give it another 5 minutes upside down, then very gently shake the pan back and forth to loosen and remove it.
- Brush the glaze all over the hot cake, both top and sides. Let it sink in, then brush on more glaze, continuing until all the glaze is used up.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before icing and serving.
- To ice the cake, mix the sugar and salt, then mix in 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, adding just enough additional juice to create a thick glaze, one that’s just barely pourable. Drizzle it artfully over the completely cool cake.
- Store the cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.
Tips from our Bakers
Want to make this recipe into 20 standard-size cupcakes? Line 20 wells of a couple of muffin pans with papers; grease the papers. Scoop the batter into the wells, using a slightly heaping 1/4 cup for each. Bake the cupcakes in a preheated 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Put the glaze in a small bowl, and dip the top of each cake into the glaze repeatedly, until the glaze is used up. Add icing if desired.
Bundt pans that have an intricate design, or older pans that aren’t non-stick, need to be carefully greased in order to ensure your cake comes out of the pan intact. Melted vegetable shortening applied with a pastry brush is your best bet for a “challenging” pan.
For stronger lemon flavor, use the grated rind of 2 lemons + 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil.
Want to make this cake gluten-free? Substitute our gluten-free Measure for Measure Flour, 1:1, for the all-purpose flour in the recipe. Bake the cake for 60 minutes.
For cake that’s slightly more tender, with a slightly finer crumb, substitute our unbleached cake flour for the all-purpose flour in the recipe.