Lemon Loaf and Salted Butter Pecan Cake Recipes
Lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon oil combine to give this simple cake real zing. Don’t be tempted to skip the lemon oil, as it adds a wonderful fragrance and intense lemon flavor that lemon extract can’t match. Cold pressed from the zest of oranges, limes, or lemons, citrus oils are concentrated and fragile. They must be refrigerated once the bottle is open, but even then they don’t last forever.
Serves 6 to 8
1-1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar 2 large lemons
½ cup (120g) sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1-1/4 teaspoon lemon oil
1-1/2 cups (245 g) all-purpose flour 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup (110g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
3 eggs, room temperature
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon lemon oil
½ to 2 cups (180g to 240g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325º. Coat a 9-by-5-inch metal loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with an 8-1/2-inch-by 15-inch strip of parchment paper so it covers the bottom of the pan and hangs over the long sides.
Put the sugar in a small bowl. Using a microplane zester, grate the zest from the lemons into the sugar. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is sandy and moist and fragrant with lemon. Set aside.
Cut the lemons in half. Using a citrus reamer, squeeze the juice from the lemons into another small bowl.
In a third small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of the fresh lemon juice, (you should have about 2 tablespoons remaining; set aside for the icing.) the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon oil. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and together on medium speed just until creamy. Add the lemon sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as you go. Decrease the mixer speed to low and beat in the sour cream mixture. Add the dry ingredients in two additions, beating on low for a few seconds after each.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes (do not check the cake until it has been in the oven for at least 40 minutes, as it might sink in the middle.) The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the loaf, still in the pan, to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Grasping the overhanging parchment, lift the loaf out of the pan and set it on the rack. Cool completely.
To make the icing, whisk the butter, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and lemon oil with the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and creamy. Spread or drizzle the icing over the cooled cake.
SALTED BUTTER PECAN CAKE
If a sticky bun and a layer cake fell in love and got married, this cake would be their baby. It is best served freshly baked and slightly warm from the oven while the caramel and pecan topping is still gooey, but if made ahead of time, simply reheat in a low oven just until warm. Please note the topping uses salted butter while the cake calls for unsalted butter. This is important to get the perfect salty/sweet balance.
½ cup (110g) salted butter
1 cup (200g) firmly packed golden brown sugar 3 tablespoons Golden Syrup
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 cup (120g) chopped pecans, toasted
1-1/2 cups (150g) sifted cake flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) firmly packed golden brown sugar 2 eggs
2 tablespoons Golden Syrup
2/3 cup (160g) sour cream
1/12 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt (for sprinkling)
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
To make the topping: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the salted butter. When the butter starts to bubble and turn golden, add the brown sugar and golden syrup. Decrease the heat to medium and stir until the sugar melts and
starts to bubble. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, cook for 1 minute exactly, stirring continuously. (Boiling for more than a minute will result in caramel that will harden on the cake and be difficult to slice.) Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. Pour immediately into the prepared pan, using a small spatula to spread in an even layer. Set aside.
For the batter: In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and fine sea salt. In a separate bowl using an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the golden syrup, sour cream and vanilla. With a rubber or silicone spatula, fold in the flour mixture by hand, just until the batter is combined and streaks of white remain. Spoon the batter over the topping in the pan, smoothing it evenly with a spatula.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. If any bits of caramel or nuts remain in the pan, simply scrape them from the pan and spread over the cake with a spatula. Sprinkle the Maldon Sea Salt over the top of the cake. Serve warm, cut into thick wedges.
Photos and recipes courtesy of Jill O’Connor