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Delicious Lemony Yellow Cake, not yellowcake.

I am reminiscing about Sacramento. I miss my friends, my routines and my wonderful neighbor Mrs. Breene’s meyer lemon tree. Shortly after we first purchased our home in Sacramento, our lovely neighbor gave us a couple of slices of a yellow cake that she made. It was a simple yellow cake with fresh squeezed fresh lemon juice over the top. So moist, with a sweet taste with just a touch of sour. It has become one of Josh’s favorite cakes.

During my time as her neighbor I used the lemons on that tree to master many of my favorite desserts. Lemon tarts, lemon curd of scones or for filling french macarons and unlimited fresh lemon juice whenever a recipe called for it. They were on the tree year round. What a treat!

I decided to make this delicious cake for us to enjoy on the other side of the country. Remember the good times.

I scoured the internet for a good yellowcake recipe, please notice… I forgot to put a space between the 2 words. Apparently this is a real term. Hey, learn something new everyday, right?! Turns out yellowcake is not what I want to make for Josh to square up for the birthday cake that I didn’t make him during the April moving rush. This is the kind of cake that is used to make uranium ores. The kind used in nuclear plants and warheards. So in an effort to stay off the UN disarm list, I decided to add a space in my search. I checked a few of my favorite blogs and came across Deb’s recipe for the Best Birthday Cake. Perfect!

Delicious Lemony Yellow Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Best Yellow Layer Cake recipe

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams or 16.93 ounces) cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 lemons, zest from 1 lemon, juice from both
1 lime
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9×13 glass or metal baking pan.

Zest 1 lemon and 1 lime. Combine the zest with sugar on a plate and grind together with the back of a metal spoon. When all the sugar has taken on the color and smell of the zest, pour sugar mixture into a large mixing bowl and add butter. Mix by hand or machine on medium, until the sugar butter mixture is creamy and light. Add vanilla. Carefully add eggs, one at a time, completely blending in before adding the next one. Add buttermilk and mix at slow speed just until everything is wet and combined. Then carefully integrate the flour into the mix, one third at a time. Don’t overwork the mix, just blend until everything is combined and no lumps are left.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour into a mixing bowl over a scale, until it reads 480 grams. Remove from scale and sift in baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  The reason that I only measure the flour is because there is so much, it is easy to use the wrong amounts. The baking soda and powder are less of a concern, also my scale doesn’t work as well for the small amounts. Feel free to use the volume measurements, but I recommend scooping the flooring into a measuring cup using a spoon and the level the top of the measuring cup with the back of a knife. You never want to pack flour when measuring it.

Pour batter into baking dish. Bang on the counter a few times to work out the air bubbles. Cook for 40 mins and check to see if the cake is set. A quick jiggle will let you know. If not set add another 5 mins and check. Check again and stick a toothpick into the center of the cake and see if it comes out clean. If so, pull that cake out. If not, cook for another 5 mins and check it again. My cake took 55 mins to cook in my oven.

Set the cake on a cooling rack in the pan. Let sit for an hour. When cake is just warm, poke holes in the top of the cake with a fork and pour the juice of 2 lemons over the top of the cake. Let it soak in for 15 minutes or so before your serve the cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the powdered sugar and serve.

The ingredients: eggs, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, powdered sugar (not shown), cake flour, butter, vanilla,  2 lemons (zest 1, reserve juice for both), lime zest, and buttermilk (not shown).

My addition to the recipe: I took the zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime and added it to the sugar. Tip: I freeze the zest from all my unused citrus for later, it’s excellent to flavor things.

Grind the citrus zest into the sugar using the back of a metal spoon on a plate. This will impart the citrus flavors into the sugar, making it extra yummy smelling.

See, good stuff.

The recipe calls for room temperature eggs. I added warm water to a bowl and added the eggs to warm them up. I can never plan ahead, so this trick works great for me.

Whenever possible I like to weight my ingredients out. Fortunately, the recipe has weights included, so I can use them. This more precise which is important when making a cake or say, french macarons. I sift the flour right into the bowl on the scale and it’s ready to go.

I sift the rest of the dry ingredients.

Combine the sugar and room temperature butter and mix under fluffy.

In Deb’s recipe she mentions the batter looks curdled after the addition of buttermilk. Yeah, that’s about right.

Grease and flour a 9X13 cake pan.

Pour the batter into the dish and rap on the counter a few times to get the air bubbles out.

While the cake cooks….. let me tell you about my morning.

I woke up at the usual 5 o’clock hour to walk the dog. I was especially tired and disoriented. I put on my usual attire, jeans and a hoodie to ward off bugs. I pulled the hoodie over my head and instantly…… black out. I stood there in bewilderment waiting for Josh to say something about the power going out. It was sooo dark. Then scratched my head or touch my face or something and immediately realized what had actually happend. The blackout wasn’t from the power going out, no it was caused by the hood of my backwards sweatshirt being pulled over my head. Whoa! What a dork. I fixed it, chuckled and took the dog out.

When the cake is done cooking I cooled it on a cooling rack until just warm.

Then I stabbed my cake repeatedly all over to make holes for the lemon juice to run down and soak into the cake.

Just before you serve the cake sprinkle powdered sugar over the top to make it look extra pretty. Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle.

Slice the cake, serve and enjoy!

The big guy is pleased. The birthday debt paid. Time to party.

Making a cake from scratch is way better than using a box mix. This is the best, most moist yellow cake I’ve ever had without even adding the lemon juice. Next time you have a celebration to make a cake for, give this recipe a try.

Do you have a favorite cake recipe or are you a pie or cookie person?