At the beginning of my fora into cooking and baking, which started fifty years ago, I never thought of using real lemons. Unknowingly I bought those plastic bright-yellow lemon containers. Naturally there was lemon juice in them, but who knows what else? It took me many years to discover fresh lemons, and their many benefits –from marinades to salad dressings to baking, just to name a few!
As I briefly dabbled in the kitchen in my twenties, when my husband and I lived in Zurich, Switzerland for over four years, I baked lemon bars, with their shortbread bottoms, and smooth custard-like topping. I’m sure I used the lemon containers then, still not being aware of puckering real lemons! But them my energy was diverted to my two children born in Zurich, plus, upon our returning to t he states, I serendipitous came upon gardening and a sprouting career began, which lasted for decades. But gradually in popped cooking, and wanderlust began!
Now when grocery shopping, I buy lemons four at a time, and keep them handy for cakes, dressings, marinades etc. But, after so much baking with chocolate for the holiday season, I wanted a break, and browsing the internet, I came upon a lemon pound cake, and, since I had amassed many lemons, I began this new recipe, naturally with changes, like I usually do with most recipes that I find. With adjustments, I feel like I’m putting my moniker on the dish, it’s mine!
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt, if using unsalted butter, but, if salted butter is used, reduce the salt to 1/4 tsp
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup light or regular sour cream, at room temperature
3 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp heavy cream or milk
1 Lower your oven rack to the lower third position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
2 In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. (Or too you can use a handheld mixer) Add the sugar and beat on high for about 2 minutes. (All this extra beating helps to make a fluffy, high and more tasty cake.) Scrape down the sides occasionally for either one of these processes. With the mixer on low, beating after each addition, add each egg. Beat in the sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour combination, in 3 or 4 scoops, only until combined. Do not over mix.
3 Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread out with a spatula if needed, and bake 45-50 minutes. The top should be faintly brown, the edges a slight bit darker, and, when a toothpick is inserted in the center it should come out clean, just maybe with a few moist crumbs, which is fine.
4 Cool for nearly one hour, and then scrape a sharp knife around the edges of the pan, and carefully remove the cake. Toward the end of the hour, mix the icing ingredients. First, poke the cake randomly, about a dozen times with a thick long sewing needle, going as deeply as you can while holding on to the pin. Pour the icing mixture over the slightly warm cake, allowing the cake to totally cool before serving.
TIPS AND TWEAKS
- If you wish to heighten the lemon flavor, (which I have done and it’s delicious!), use an extra one half lemon for the zest at step 2. Also, increase the lemon juice up to another tablespoon at step 2.
- Along with 1/3 rd cup of shredded sweet coconut, mix in 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture evenly on the cake before you bake it.
- For extra over-the-top flavor with chocolate, once the cake finishes baking, let it cool for 5 minutes, and then spread evenly, about one half cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Do not add cinnamon or coconut. Wait about another 5 minutes and when the chocolate has melted, spread the chocolate around carefully with a soft spatula, yum! But, first let the cake cool.
- For a slight twist on the tartness, use a little lime juice in place of some of the lemon juice or zest.
- This cake freezes very well, up to about three months. Before serving, let it reach room temperature.