My co-worker Lilia brought in a bag of sweet lemons from the tree in her yard. I grabbed an armful to take home—where they sat on my kitchen counter untouched for about a week. When I noticed them starting to turn, I knew I had to act fast, so I searched for a recipe that would use them all up. The Lemon Lemon Loaf, created by Baked owners Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, came to the rescue. Their first cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, is one of my favorites. The Red Hook, Brooklyn, bakers' recipe calls for freshly squeezed lemon juice for the cake, for the syrup to pour on top AND for a zingy glaze. Sold! I brought in a slice to work for Lilia. She liked it. The next day, she came in with a new bag of lemons and one request: more lemon cake please.
Lemon Lemon Loaf
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Makes 2 loaves
For 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
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted, or more if needed
4 to 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
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 in the flour mixture, one third at a time, folding gently after each addition until just combined. Do not over mix.
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.
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.
Make the lemon glaze
In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner's 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 of lemon juice and whisk again, adding small amounts of lemon juice and/or confectioner's 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.