The Chicken Chick®: Lemon Cake, Idiot-proofed

Dec 22, 2012

Lemon Cake, Idiot-proofed

Even if you don't have blood sugar issues, you're going to want to have insulin on-hand just to read this recipe for lemon cake!
I make this recipe every Christmas, but since I only make it annually, I always forget that I screw it up every single year. And this year was no exception. It’s a Barefoot Contessa recipe and I find that Ina Garten over-complicates most things, so I have modified the recipe slightly and re-written it to be idiot-proof for my own benefit. Advisory: Even if you don't have blood sugar issues, you're going to want to have insulin on-hand just to read this recipe for lemon cake!
Cake Ingredients
  • 2 sticks of butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs (fresh from backyard hens if you can swing it)
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest tossed with one teapoon flour (6 to 8 large lemons, reserving rinds for Lemoncello Cleaner!)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Syrup Ingredients
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ½ vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise (optional, but worth the investment)
Glaze Ingredients
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
Tossing the lemon zest in some flour aids in the even distribution of the zest throughout the batter.
Zest is tossed with flour to aid in even distribution in the batter. 
 Juice lemons over a sieve to catch all seeds.
 Cake Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans or 6 mini loaf pans.
Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest (be sure zest gets evenly distributed)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, milk and vanilla extract.

Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
Lemon Cake, Idiot-proofed
Lemon Cake, Idiot-proofed
Divide the batter evenly between the pans (I use an ice cream scoop to portion evenly). Smooth the tops and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Look at the fluffiness of this lemon cake batter!
Lemon Cake, Idiot-proofed
Syrup Directions
While cakes are baking, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice and vanilla bean in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Glaze for lemon cakes consists of sugar, water and an optional vanilla bean.
When the cakes have cooled for 10 minutes, poke holes in them with a skewer. *Remove from the pans and set them to a rack set over a sheet pan (I don’t remove cakes from the mini loaf pans if I’m gifting them). Slowly spoon the syrup on top of cakes, aiming for as little waste as possible.
Spoon lemon glaze over warm cakes.

Lemon cake after soaking with lemon glaze.
 Allow the cakes to cool completely. .
Glaze for lemon cake.
 Glaze Directions
Combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes. These lemon cakes freeze beautifully. (guilty pleasure: eating a hunk of cake FROZEN. Mmmmm!)
These lemon cakes freeze beautifully. (guilty pleasure: eating a hunk of cake FROZEN. Mmmmm!)
Lemon cake adapted from Ina Garten's recipe.
** The lemon rinds can be turned into an organic, Lemoncello Cleaner very simply with only a 2 liter bottle and 1 cup of brown sugar! 
Lemoncello cleaner made from spent lemon rinds
Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®


  1. Nancy Roberts12/22/12, 6:21 PM

    Yum! I've made this recipe before and it's delicious! What a great idea to gift it for the holidays.  Your cakes look delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe!! :)

  2. So I'm not the only one who thinks she over-complicates some of her recipes! :-) This looks delicious, and I'm a big fan of lemon. I'm going to try using a Bundt pan. Thanks for the recipe - and your own personal tweaks.

  3. TheChickenChick12/22/12, 9:09 PM

    That's just one of my Ina Garten pet peeves. Lol! Let me know how you like the recipe!

  4. TheChickenChick12/22/12, 10:01 PM

    Am I the only one who found her recipe awkward & confusing, Nancy? (just say 'yes,' that'll make me feel better. LOL!)

  5. Dolly Sarrio12/22/12, 10:23 PM

    Oh my goodness, just last night I thought that I would love a lemon cake and WOW...this one will fit the bill. Thanks for posting.

  6. Oh my that looks so good! 

  7. deborahpucci12/23/12, 10:43 AM

    This looks and sounds delicious. I love lemon everything!!

  8. That looks so delicious! I will have to make that sometime just not anytime soon. I have made way too many holiday goodies for the rest of this year. :) I think my kids think that is all I am suppose to make.

  9. winnie rottem12/23/12, 3:36 PM

    This cake looks amazingly delicious!

    You cracked me up - funny post LOL
    Have a wonderful holiday!

  10. Oh my goodness, this looks divine. I am going to have to try it ASAP.
    Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Merry Christmas!

  11. Laura Hegfield12/23/12, 6:10 PM


  12. Mmmmm looks yummy!

  13. S Summersell12/24/12, 2:02 AM

     I love the things you post about but things like this, need a printer friendly format. First printing didn't even get all the ingredients on one page.

  14. TheChickenChick12/24/12, 2:07 AM

    I have provided an icon at the top of each blog post that looks like a green printer, which will allow you to print out just the recipe, with or without pictures; just click on it and select your preferences! ☺

  15. How do you make the cleaner when your all done im going to make this my family loves lemon but i want to know how to make the cleaner before i get started so i have everything i need

  16. DianaRambles1/2/13, 10:39 AM

    I want some now! Especially with that icing drizzled on top!

  17. This sounds and looks like a super moist and delicious cake! This is a recipe we should all pin on our fridge!
    Thank you for sharing this at Wednesday Extravaganza - Hope to see you there again this week with more deliciousness :)

  18. Debi Bolocofsky1/13/13, 2:16 PM

    This lemon cakes looks amzaing.  I love lemon cake.  Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday's Adorned From Above Blog Hop. 
    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above
    Melanie @ Keep It Simple and Fun

  19. Stephanie Michaels1/14/13, 6:36 AM

    Lemon cake is so delicious and fresh I LOVE it!  I use it all the time.  You recipe looks great I love using buttermilk in baking.  Thanks so much for sharing on Super Sweet Saturday.

  20. igotthismartha1/17/13, 5:58 PM

    I love lemon, and I might be able to handle this recipe! 

  21. Paula Jones4/13/13, 3:53 PM

    I'm going to need to you mail me some of this!! :) Looks so yummy. Pinned.

  22. TheChickenChick4/14/13, 7:39 PM

    LOL! It is TO DIE FOR!

  23. Thanks so much for sharing at A Peek Into My Paradise TGIF Link Party.

    I hope you will come party with us next week and see if you were featured!

    Have a great week!

    Hugs! Cathy

  24. Talk about sugar overload. This is SOOOO good.

  25. When you state 2 sticks of butter, do you mean 2 slab each weighing 8oz each..Being British we tend to go by weight

  26. when do we eat????????

  27. I am making this today!! I have a huge lemon tree and orange tree that are giving me lots of citrus right now :)

  28. The lemoncello cleaner uses brown sugar??? and not vinegar?

  29. Deborah Paterson12/8/13, 3:35 PM

    Just in from atop a ladder hanging lights, trying to dry some wet chickens and playing a game of slime ball with my three dogs and brrrrr its cold and sloppy wet out. I can't begin to express how good this looks. Whoops did I just drool….yikes gotta take it easy on us with these yummy treat photos lol.

  30. TheChickenChick12/8/13, 5:09 PM

    Lucky you! Let me know how you like it, Corina!

  31. TheChickenChick12/8/13, 5:18 PM

    One stick is four ounces, two sticks is 8 ounces. Sorry about that!

  32. I have a banana bread recipe that is also quite addicting and has a much fat in it as this recipe!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Yikes! Mine didn't rise. Must have to account more for high altitude. :(

  34. TheChickenChick12/10/13, 6:52 PM

    I'll bet it tastes just as good though. ;)

  35. It sure does. My DH and I have scarfed about 1/4 of one of the cakes already. YUM!

  36. Debi Bolocofsky12/17/13, 5:19 PM

    This is a great recipe. I love lemon cake. Thank you so much for sharing with Adorned From Above’s Link Party. We love having your join the fun.

    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

  37. I was wondering the same thing....

  38. Any ideas how I can modify this to use sour dough starter.

  39. TheChickenChick4/17/14, 6:43 PM

    I don't, Keisha.

  40. I like this, and now I am craving it!

  41. DreadPiratePatty12/24/14, 3:10 PM

    Thanks again for this - making it now, can't wait for the delicious aroma from the oven! Hope you and yours have a blessed Christmas and so happy everything worked out for you legally. In the end I am glad justice prevailed!