This month was easy peasy, friends, at least in terms of this cake Natalie and I baked for our Baked, Occasionally series. Because lemons. Because bundt. Because more lemons.
Because if you are a food person, it goes without saying that you love lemon baked goods in some form. Some of us prefer lemon in tart form. Still others, a nice lemon cookie. Most of us, however, would eat the life out of a lemon cake shaped like a giant donut if we had the opportunity.
I am one of those people. So is Natalie.
This was her month to pick our Baked Occasions recipe: we had zero problem settling on our Kitchen Sink Dutch Baby or that Chocolate Peanut Butter Texas Sheet Cake for past installments, mind you. Granted, the Coconut Sheet Cake was touch and go, but only because I had grand visions of making a meat pie for a hot minute. The struggle, I think, was because almost all the recipes for May were things we’d love to make anytime, in general. After going back and forth on a few, she picked this one, and I didn’t mind one bit. My April was going to be super-busy, and she had just made it easier, because I’ve made this beauty before. Not for the blog, but several times since obtaining the book, for “personal reasons” like…um…Lemon Cake Tuesdays? Or…you know…just reasons. Cake for personal use is sometimes the best cake.
I knew going in we’d have to change exactly nothing about this. It’s without a doubt the most crazy-lemony, vibrantly-flavored lemon cake ever. Most lemon cakes contain what, maybe a few lemons’ worth of zest and juice, right? This one has 10 lemons of zest inside it; burly zest, too…the kind you strip off and chop. Plus lemon extract, plus if you choose not to use the rum in the recipe, just add lemon juice for even more lemon flavor. Never mind the lemon syrup which gets slathered on the cake post-bake, and I won’t even mention the lemony glaze that adorns its top. It’s lemon overload, in the nicest way possible.
I have a few tips, as I am prone to having tips. This isn’t about improving the cake, but rather about how to get the biggest bang for your cake buck:
- Take care in greasing and flouring the Bundt pan, especially if yours is like mine and has sharp curves and edges: the more dramatic the pan, the more chance there is for chunks of cake to be left in there when you turn it out. If it does happen (as it has to me), this cake makes it easy to fix. Simply detach said chunks from inside the pan, place them where they’re supposed to go, and then gently poke a hole or two in it. The lemon syrup will get in there and form a bond, fixing your cake basically good as new.
- Zest your lemons using the stripper part of a zester or a paring knife – no flimsy grated zest here, because it’ll take you forever. Pull the zesty part of the lemon off in strips, then chop it finely and add to the batter as directed. If you’re worried about lemon zest chunks, fear not: they basically melt into the cake batter.
- Go thick with the glaze. I’ve learned the hard way that the gravity-defying, opaque glaze you see in photos is only achieved by adding your confectioners sugar with a heavy hand. Go slow at the end, but make it slightly thicker than you think you may need and let gravity do it’s thing. If you really want a picturesque cake, glaze, refrigerate for 15 minutes, then add almonds so they don’t slide down the cake with the room temperature glaze.
I can speak for both of us when I tell you how much we like this cake. When we talked about it, Natalie brought up a good point about the visual: she didn’t realize how brown it got on the outside, and it really does. Take care when baking because it’s supposed to be dark on the outside, but not burnt, obviously. Use your eyes, but cake-testers are going to be your best indication of when the cake is done. Natalie’s cake looks amazing: we used different pan styles, with equally delicious results. Go check out what she has to say about all this ultra-lemony-ness over here: she’s got her own perspective on it and generally when you combine both of our takes together, you get a clear picture of what it would be like to make the cake yourself.
Happy May! May came fast for me, and I’m happy to be here, because May promises to be a month of really digging into work over here in a way that I haven’t been able to in a while, and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve been out-of-town this past week, and it was a wonderful trip composed of equal parts celebration and work, and I’m happy to be home and settled back in. More soon.