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Food & Entertaining

Lemon Cake

Author: Sydney Dye
Issue: February, 2013, Page 60

The classic pound cake of yore originally was made with a pound each of flour, butter, sugar and eggs, plus a flavoring of vanilla or lemon. A lighter version is now the standard, and for a twist, try flavoring it with the juice of a pink lemon.

The pink lemon tree, also known as the pink lemonade tree, produces fruit with a tangy, tart flavor, a rich lemon scent and few, if any, seeds.

February is a good month to harvest lemons in the Southwest, and their season lasts from winter through mid-summer.

This month’s recipe produces a buttery, dense pound cake with a bright citrus flavor.

Pink Lemon Pound Cake

1 1/3 cups (13 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided, at room temperature, plus extra butter to grease a loaf pan
3 tablespoons whole milk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons grated pink lemon zest


1/3 cup pink lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon liqueur (such as Limoncello)

PREHEAT oven to 350º.

GREASE a standard 8.5" by 5" loaf pan generously with butter.

ZEST the lemon, avoiding the white pith of the skin. Set aside.

WHISK together in a small bowl the eggs, milk and vanilla. Set aside.

ADD the flour, sugar and baking powder in the bowl of a standard mixer. Turn the mixer on low and add zest. Add 1 tablespoon of butter at a time until completely incorporated. Slowly add the egg and milk mixture, beating on low speed. Mix until just combined; do not overbeat.

POUR the batter into the prepared loaf pan and place in preheated oven.

BAKE for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake should be golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly in the pan.

ADD the lemon juice, sugar and lemon liqueur to a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan and whisk over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a gentle boil; take care that it does not boil over.

CONTINUE to cook at a low boil until the mixture is reduced by half and is thick and syrupy. Set aside.

RUN a knife along the edges of the loaf pan and gently remove the cake. Place the cake on a wire rack set on a sheet tray. With a wooden skewer, poke holes in the top of the cake, inserting the skewer about 3".

POUR the glaze slowly over the top of the warm cake and let it seep into the holes and coat the top. Allow cake to cool before slicing. 

• Regular lemons, oranges or blood oranges may be substituted for the pink lemon zest and juice.
• Younger pink lemons are variegated with green and off-white stripes on the outside and • rose-hued pink flesh on the inside.
• The juice of pink lemons is delicious in lemonade, lemon bars or lemon cream pie.
• The fruit itself is beautiful when used in a floral arrangement, and the peel can be used as a garnish.

Sydney Dye is a home gardener, chef and owner of First Fig Culinary Adventures in Scottsdale.
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