When life gives you lemons…

I was ecstatic to find Meyer lemons at my local grocery store in Japan, and had been saving them for something special when I remembered that the first Baked cookbook had a lemon loaf…voila!

Baked is one of my all-time favorite books (and one of my most popular Amazon Spotlight Reviews). I’ve made at least half of the recipes, including the Baked brownie, pumpkin chocolate chip loaf, banana espresso chocolate muffins, granola, root beer cake, bourbon pecan pie and many others. If I were stranded on a desert (dessert?) island, Baked would be the one cookbook I would choose!! (You can see my full review here).

The loaves are enriched with butter (we won’t say how much!), sour cream, eggs, and vanilla bean paste with 1/4 cup of lemon zest and fresh lemon juice, then brushed with a lemon syrup, and finally topped with a lemon glaze.

For an extra-festive appearance, I used my NordicWare lemon loaf pans; this is an older design that has been discontinued and replaced with a newer design in Goldtouch (light finish). Because my pans are the older, darker interior, I lowered oven temp by 25 degrees so loaves did not brown too quickly. I also covered with foil the last 20 minutes or so to prevent overbrowning.

If you find yourself with a surplus of lemons (the recipe calls for four small lemons, but I used two large Meyer lemons and supplemented with frozen lemon juice), by all means make this lemon lemon loaf to add some sunshine to your day!

Baked’s Lemon Lemon Loaf

YIELD2 (9-by-5-by-3-inch) Loaves

INGREDIENTSFOR THE LEMON CAKE

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups sugar

8 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 cup grated lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

FOR THE LEMON SYRUP

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar

FOR THE LEMON GLAZE (OPTIONAL)

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, or more if needed

4 to 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

PREPARATION
MAKE THE LEMON CAKES

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the sides and bottom of two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.

Sift both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until combined. With the motor running, drizzle the butter in through the feed tube. Add the sour cream and vanilla and pulse until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Sprinkle the flour mixture, one third at a time, folding gently after each addition until just combined. Do not overmix.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F., and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.

MEANWHILE, MAKE THE LEMON SYRUP

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and invert the loaves onto the pan. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the loaves.

Brush the tops and sides of the loaves with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cakes cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

(The soaked but unglazed loaves will keep, wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap and frozen, for up to 6 weeks.)

IF YOU LIKE, MAKE THE LEMON GLAZE

In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. If the mixture is too stiff, add up to another 2 tablespoons lemon juice and whisk again, adding small amounts of lemon juice and/or confectioners’ sugar until you get the right consistency. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.

The glazed loaves will keep for up to 3 days, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

BAKED NOTE

For zesting purposes, we always recommend using an organic fruit, free of chemicals or pesticides that might reside deep in the rind.

From Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Polifito. Text copyright © 2008 by Anne Bramley; photographs copyright © 2008 by Tina Rupp. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams.

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