There are over 150 recipes in the Martha Stewart Cake book. I’m on recipe number two.
After the recipe for “Basic Pound Cake” comes FIFTEEN MORE VERSIONS OF LOAF CAKE: There’s Chocolate-Ginger Marble, Clementine Vanilla Bean, Pumpkin Sage, and Cornmeal Buttermilk, to name a few. And that only gets me to page 49… of 311 pages of cake recipes.
And I’ve obligated myself to make each and every one of them.
And most of these loaf recipes produce 2 cakes.
My boyfriend, everyone at my office, and all the neighbors up and down my block are going to be fat and happy by December.
Or maybe fat and angry?
Oh well, who cares. It’s not like they’ll be able to hurt me. I’ll be able to outrun them all.
You might think turning a “basic loaf cake” into a “lemon loaf cake” wouldn’t require anything more than tossing some fresh lemon zest into the batter. That’s where Martha would slap you in the face, call you a rube and go back to watching her favorite movie, Bowfinger (I have it on good authority).
Sure, yeah… we’ll include zest in the batter. But we’re not gonna stop there. We’re also gonna make lemon icing for the tops of the cakes, candied lemons to top that lemon icing, and when we get the cakes out of the oven WE’RE GONNA POKE HOLES ACROSS THE TOPS AND POUR LEMON SUGAR SYRUP STRAIGHT INTO THEM!!
This is what I did with my Memorial Day. I’ll always remember. I’ll never forget.
Martha Stewart’s Lemon Pound Cake (makes 2)
For the Cakes:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
3 cups AP flour, plus more for pans
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
For the Candied Lemon Slices and Syrup:
1 cup granulated sugar (I went with 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup water
2 lemons sliced 1/8 inch thin or thinner, seeds removed
1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
For the Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 to 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
Start with the cakes. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter and flour two 9×5 inch loaf pans, then tap out the excess flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and lemon zest.
With an electric mixer on high, beat butter and granulated sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating between each and scraping down the sides of the blow. Mix in vanilla. Then drop the speed to low and beat in the flour in three batches, alternating with two batches of the sour cream.
Divide the batter evenly between your two pans. Smooth tops with an offset spatula and tap the pans a few times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean. Martha says 55-65 minutes. I went 60 with mine, but should only have gone 55. They ended up a bit too brown on the corners.
While the cake cooks, start with your candied lemon slices and syrup. In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar and the water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon slices and simmer gently. Gently is important because even the bubbles from a stronger boil with burst open the centers of your lemon slices. Gentleness is key. Swirl occasionally (again, gently) until the slices are opaque. This should take between 25 and 35 minutes. Remove from heat, and with a slotted spoon, transfer slices to a sheet of wax paper (again, gently or they’ll break apart). Stir lemon juice into the syrup, to taste.
Remove cakes from oven. While still in pans, use a wooden skewer or toothpick to poke several holes in the tops. Set aside 1/4 cup of the lemon syrup; pour the remainder over the cakes. Transfer pans to a wire rack; set rack over a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Brush tops and sides of cakes with reserved syrup.
To make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add up to 2 more tablespoons juice until glaze is pourable but thick. Pour over cakes, still on racks, letting it drop down the sides. Let set, about 30 minutes. Garnish with the candied lemon slices.