Eric travels quite a bit for work and sometimes will spend several hours in the car driving to North and/or South Carolina. He usually fuels himself with iced coffee and a slice of lemon loaf from Starbucks when he’s on the road. Since he celebrated his birthday last month, I wanted to make him a special breakfast. We already had the cold-brew coffee here, so all I needed was the lemon loaf. It’s one of those foods that blurs the line between breakfast and dessert. It’s essentially a cake and even has a glaze, but it’s made in a loaf pan and seems perfectly acceptable to eat for breakfast, especially if it’s your birthday.
This cake is full of lemony goodness. It should almost be called triple lemon loaf. It’s a lemon cake brushed with lemon simple syrup and topped with lemon glaze. Basically, this knocks its Starbucks counterpart out of the water. The cake uses sour cream, which adds to its tanginess and helps the cake achieve a richly dense and extra moist crumb. This recipe makes two loaves, and I can tell you that I fully regret halving this the day I made it. If you don’t have use for both loaves, simply freeze the extra one and glaze it when you need it. The directions for making this called for a food processor, which would have been fine had I not broken mine a few weeks earlier. I made this in a stand mixer with no problems, and I’ve reflected my changes below.
- COOK TIME:
- YIELD: 2 9-inch loaves
For the lemon cake:
1½ cups cake flour
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2¼ cups granulated sugar
8 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup grated lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the lemon syrup:
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup sugar
For the lemon glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat oven to 350º. Butter the sides and bottoms of two standard 9-inch loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice on low speed. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the melted butter. Add the sour cream and vanilla and continue mixing until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to gently fold it in, taking care not to overmix.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, reduce oven temperature to 325º and continue baking an additional 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the lemon syrup. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, then continue to cook about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Remove the loaves from the pans and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the loaves. Brush with the lemon syrup, allow to soak in and brush again. Allow the cakes to cool completely (at least 30 minutes). If you’d like to freeze a loaf, this is the time to do it.
When the loaves are cool, prepare the lemon glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 4 tablespoons lemon juice. The glaze should be thick but pourable. Add more lemon juice if needed to reach desired consistency. Pour glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the loaves sit for about 15 minutes, or until the glaze hardens, before serving. The glazed loaves, tightly wrapped in plastic, will keep for 3 days.