Lemon Cake, via williams-sonoma.com
Whenever I eat this cake I feel like I’m eating a cloud — OK, it’s not quite as airy as an angel food cake, but because of the cake flour called for in the ingredients list it’s pretty darn light. Yet it’s somehow dense at the same time; does that make sense? Probably not. But it’s got a nice firm-yet-light crumb and holds up beautifully to sliced seasonal fruit and a generous dollop of whipped cream (the whipped cream contributing to the cloud-like factor). I like this particularly in the warmer months with berries, but it’s quite lovely in winter, too, especially when paired with a strong cup of tea and wool socks.
1 1⁄2 cups plus 2 Tbs. cake flour
1⁄8 tsp. baking soda
1⁄8 tsp. salt
9 Tbs. unsalted butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Grease and flour a lemon bread pan; tap out excess flour.
Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla and 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, beating each addition until just incorporated and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the lemon zest.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 70 to 75 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the remaining 3 Tbs. lemon juice and the 1⁄4 cup sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Set the rack over a sheet of waxed paper, invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Using a pastry brush, brush the warm cake with the glaze. Let the cake cool completely before serving. Serves 8 to 10.