A couple of months ago, I got a craving for lemons. I didn’t want to make my go-to lemon cream cheese bites. I wanted something baked, but a little less heavy. I ultimately settled on Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake, read the reviews, printed off the recipe, and baked it up.
The result was good, but a bit too lemony. I know, I know. Lemony is good, but sometimes too much of a good thing is, well, not so good. So I jotted down some hasty notes on my lemon and sugar crusted copy, and I filed it away for later use, forgetting about it until—after an insane juicing frenzy—I had to come up with a way to use some leftover lemon juice.
Pulling out the recipe, which I had “filed away” by folding it in half and sticking it in my cookie cookbook, I scanned my notes looking for ways to lighten the lemon load and increase the moisture content. This is what I settled on, and I have to say I am pleased with the result. Don’t be daunted by the massive ingredient list. I promise that it’s completely worth it.
The lemon cream cheese glaze yields more than you’ll need for the cake, but any remaining glaze can be stored in the refrigerator and used to dip cupcake tops in or to drizzle over berries. You can also always add more powdered sugar to turn it into frosting.
Lemon Cream Cake
¼ cup milk
1 scant teaspoon white distilled vinegar
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 extra large eggs
1 heaping tablespoon lemon zest
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Lemon Simple Syrup (recipe below)
Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze (recipe below)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan.
- In a small bowl, stir the vinegar into the milk and set aside for later use. Don’t be surprised—mixture will curdle.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, and then stir in lemon zest.
- In another large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl with the curdled milk, add the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon juice.
- Alternately add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture to the batter—begin and end with flour, mixing gently. The batter will be very stiff.
- Spoon batter into prepared Bundt pan, and bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
- While cake bakes, prepare both the lemon simple syrup and the lemon cream cheese glaze.
- Remove from oven, and let rest for 10 minutes or so. Run a knife around the inside edge of the cake pan to loosen cake, but do not remove cake from pan.
- Poke holes randomly in cake and pour lemon simple syrup over cake. Let cake cool for 25 minutes before turning out over a rimmed serving plate.
- Put lemon cream cheese glaze in a pastry bag or a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off; drizzle the glaze over top of cake. If desired, extra glaze may be drizzled over cake when serving.
Lemon Simple Syrup
Combine ½ cup sugar with ¼ cup lemon juice and ¼ cup water. Allow mixture to come to a boil, and then remove from heat.
Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
Blend together 3 ounce cream cheese, 1 tablespoon softened butter, ¼ cup lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon lemon zest, and 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar. If mixture is too thick, thin with water until it reaches desired consistency (thin enough to drizzle, but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon). Adjust the amounts of sugar and lemon juice to suit your tastes.
Yields 1 Bundt cake