For my third segment of Famous Fridays (geez, have three weeks really gone by already?!!) I've turned to a cookbook with a lot of tried and true favorites, The Silver Palate Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. For those of you who don't know, The Silver Palate used to be a very popular gourmet take-out shop on the Upper West side of New York City which opened in 1977 and stayed in business until 1993. The cookbook came out in 1982 to huge acclaim. My mom had a copy and I know she made many of the recipes, particularly their carrot cake which is fantastic and may appear on this blog one day. I never had a copy but last year someone gave my mom an old one and she promptly brought it to me. When I opened the book recently to take a look, a little pink slip of paper (which I assume came from the book's previous owner) saying "Make the lemon cake" fell out and I took that as a sign.
I feel kind of strange saying this, 'cause there's not a lick of chocolate anywhere here, but I think this may be one of our favorite cakes ever! Truly! Everyone who tasted it loved it! It's moist and sweet and tart and crunchy all at the same time. My husband called it "a cross between pound cake and a great lemon doughnut". I don't know if he's right, but I do know I will make this again and again.
The cake is easy to put together and is made up of a few simple ingredients. Definitely use fresh lemons here, as the lemon flavor is part of what is so good about it. Surprisingly, I also really loved the lemon glaze. Often when cakes call for glazes, I leave them off, feeling that they are unnecessary and make the cake sickly sweet, but not here. This glaze is tart and dries up with a satisfying crunch. Plus, there's a tube pan involved which I have a great "fondness" for.
Basically you just cream butter and sugar together, add in eggs and then alternate flour with buttermilk. Then you stir in a generous amount of lemon rind and juice and bake. Meanwhile you prepare the glaze and 10 minutes after the cake comes out of the oven, you slather it with the glaze and then let it sit to fully cool. We not only ate it for dessert but had some for breakfast the next morning--it's that good!
Once again, the Silver Palate Cookbook lives up to its impressive legacy. And thanks to whoever wrote that little pink note. Without it, I may have just passed over this recipe and never have enjoyed this wonderful cake!
Glazed Lemon Cake-Famous Fridays
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes, plus time for butter and eggs to reach room temperature
Bake Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes plus cooling time
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
Zest from 2 medium lemons
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound confectioners' sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
Zest from 2-3 medium lemons (depending on how tart you want it to be)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF and spray a 10-tube pan with vegetable cooking spray.
2. Using electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and blending well after each addition.
3. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. On low speed, add dry ingredients gradually to the batter, alternating with buttermilk in three additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stir in lemon zest and juice.
4. Pour batter into pan and smooth top. Bake in middle of oven for 1 hour and five minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean and cake pulls away from sides of the pan.
5 Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Cream sugar and butter together well. It takes a while and will look crumbly. Then add lemon juice and zest and mix thoroughly, till spreadable.
7. Remove cake from the pan, return to rack and place foil or a baking pan under rack, to catch the drips. Spread on glaze while cake is still hot. (I had a lot of glaze left over, next time I might spread it more thickly or 1/2 the glaze recipe).
8. Let cake cool completely. Keeps 4-5 days wrapped in plastic wrap.