Lemon is such a bright, potent flavor that it will shine in any recipe that you use it in. It’s fun to make lemon desserts like layer cakes and lemon meringue pies that both showcase lemon and are also showstoppers. But I find that I don’t always need a showstopper dessert. Sometimes I just want something simple that still has a lot of flavor. This Lemon Loaf Cake may look and sound plain, and may not steal the spotlight from a mile high meringue pie, but no lemon-lover will be disappointed with the flavor in this everyday cake.
The cake is very simple to make and, if you have a couple of lemons in your kitchen, you probably already have all the ingredients to make it on hand already. The cake is light, tender and very moist, with a pronounced lemon flavor. It is made with a generous amount of fresh lemon juice and zest, so the lemon flavor that you get is bright and fresh. I add a hint of vanilla to my cake, as well, though if you are a lemon purist you can omit it from yours. Don’t be tempted to use bottled juice or lemon extract in this cake, as you won’t get quite the same finished product as you will with the fresh citrus fruit.
I’ll serve this cake any time of day, both for breakfast and as a dessert. It is fantastic with coffee (you might be surprised by how many coffees have citrus notes in them) and, of course, goes very well with tea. I typically leave this cake unfrosted, but a drizzle of simple lemon icing made with confectioners’ sugar and more lemon juice is a nice way to dress it up a little bit if you want to show it off. The cake keeps very well when stored in an airtight container or when well-wrapped with plastic wrap, so you should be able to enjoy it for several days after baking.
Everyday Lemon Loaf Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the lemon juice. Stir in remaining flour mixture and mix until no streaks of dry ingredients remain visible.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 1 loaf.