When Life Gives You Lemons

Life at Bella Terra
by Life at Bella Terra
2 cakes
1 hr 15 min

The orchard is full of fruit and flower buds are starting to appear! We will need to glean the trees so the new buds have enough energy to produce a hearty crop next year. So the harvesting begins! So when life gives you lemons, bake!

The lemon tree, well, is not really a tree or a bush. It is sort of a sprawling blob of green. I am sure it is decades old but it keeps producing wonderful fruit. Not sure of its variety but year after year, this bush/tree gives up plenty of beautiful, fresh lemons.

Years ago, my friend, Joann Augur (who also now happens to be my art teacher), made a lemon cake for one of our Garden Hoes gatherings. Yes, we were part of a group of gardeners called the Hoes and our husbands were the Hoses. Garden humor.:)

Joann’s cake was so delicious I quickly asked for her recipe. And even though it sat in my recipe book for years, I clearly remembered this incredibly tasty cake. So in art class this week, I asked Joann’s permission to share her recipe. After years of mentally tasting this cake, I finally made it with the abundance of lemons from our orchard.

First, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time.

I LOVE my microplane/zester . We received it as a gift and I can’t believe I’ve never had one before. Making lemon zest is so easy with this tool.

Add the zest to the sugar/butter/egg mixture.

Sift the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, combine lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. I didn’t have buttermilk and didn’t feel like making a special trip to the grocery store, so I made my own, using Emeril Laggasse’s homemade recipe. You simply put vinegar or lemon juice (4 1/2 teaspoons) into one cup of milk and let it stand 15 minutes. I decided to use lemon juice vs. vinegar since this is a lemon cake recipe.

Add the buttermilk combo and flour mixture alternatively to the sugar batter, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter into 2 loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour (mine were done in 45 minutes in a convection oven). While the cakes are baking, make the lemon syrup.

Cool the cakes for 10 minutes, remove from pans and place on a rack over a tray (cookie sheet). Spoon the syrup over the cakes. I also took a wooden skewer and added holes to the cake to help the syrup absorb even more.

Make the glaze and drizzle over the cakes.

This cake is SO yummy! According to Joann, this cake freezes well too. Many thanks to Joann for allowing me to share this on my blog.

When Life Gives You Lemons
Recipe details
  • 2  cakes
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 45 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 15 min
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  • 1/2 lb. unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar divided
  • 4 Xtra large eggs room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest 6-8 lemons
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Glaze
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar sifted
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and line bottom of two 8 1/2 x 4/1/4 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pans in parchment paper.
Cream butter and 2 cups sugar in bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. With mixer on medium speed, add eggs one at a time, and lemon zest.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour/buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between pans, smooth tops and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour until done.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a saucepan, cook low until sugar dissolves.
When cakes are done, cool 10 minutes. Invert them on a rack and set over a tray. Spoon syrup over cakes.
For the Glaze: combine confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in a bowl; mix with wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow glaze to drizzle down the sides.
Life at Bella Terra
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  • Elaine Elaine on Aug 18, 2022

    Can this be made with gluten-free flour? If I don't have x-large eggs, how many large eggs should be used?

    • Life at Bella Terra Life at Bella Terra on Aug 18, 2022

      Elaine, I have not made those with gluten-free flour so I cannot comment on how it would affect the recipe. Regarding these large eggs I would use five large eggs verses four extra large eggs.

  • Ann21509053 Ann21509053 on Aug 18, 2022

    can this be frozen?