I know you’re probably in the middle of Easter baking and food planning, but I just wanted to slide this in here in case you needed a quick wee weekend (or anytime) baking project. I posted a while back on IG about revamping this loaf cake to include a lemon version, which I attempted last week. After about four tweaks, I realised that it wasn’t the right base recipe to be using for a lemon loaf cake - in order to get enough lemon flavour in, I was having to up the liquid to a level that was making the cake super oily and weird. So I bailed on the ricotta idea, and went in the direction of lemon and sour cream, which is one of my fave combos.
Lemon and sour cream isn’t the first combination that comes to mind when you think of lemon, but it makes a lot of sense - the smooth flavour of the sour cream plays with the tartness of the lemon juice and lemon zest. The moisture gives the cake a beautifully tender crumb, which is enhanced by the melted butter and almond meal also in the batter. This is a quick stir together cake, which, once baked, is doused in an easy lemon syrup, which again lends more moisture and helps elevate the punchy flavour of the lemon. I then finished the whole thing with a thick lemony glaze.
I know I say this about almost everything that I make, but this is definitely going to become a firm favourite around here. One of my goals this year was to share some ‘simple’ recipes alongside the multi component ones that I often gravitate toward - recipes that can be made without a stand mixer, or without any fancy ingredients or kitchen equipment (I don’t consider a scale to be fancy, if you don’t have one already you better get on it). This cake is made with just two bowls and a whisk, meaning it is super easy to throw together, regardless of your kitchen situation. Happy loaf caking! x
A few wee tips:
I ran out of sour cream during one of the tests, so I subbed some full fat greek yoghurt and it worked great. Creme fraiche would also work - you just want something of a similar consistency and moisture / fat content (so no buttermilk or cream cheese etc).
When you line the pan for this, make sure that you have some overhang so that you have something to pull the cake out of the pan with. I like to clip down the parchment paper with some small bulldog clips while I transfer the batter to the loaf pan, but make sure that you take them off before baking - i’ve baked clips into a cake before, and it’s not super cute.
If you like, you can finish this with some lemon zest.
I like adding the syrup while the cake is still a bit warm, so that it absorbs it nicely, but wait until it is properly cooled before adding the lemon glaze, so that it does not run off the cake. The glaze will look super rough when you first put it on, but it will settle and become smooth in a minute or two.
I like my glaze to be quite thick - but by all means feel free to make yours a little thinner if you like. I usually start with 30g of lemon juice, mix it until fully incorporated, then add more just a little squeeze at a time. You need the glaze to be thicker than you think or it goes everywhere.
Lemon and Sour Cream Loaf Cake with Lemon Glaze
- Makes one loaf cake -
Lemon Sour Cream Cake
Zest of 3 lemons
290g all-purpose flour
90g almond meal (almond flour)
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp plus ⅛ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
135g freshly squeezed lemon juice
150g full fat sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
60g lemon juice
200g powdered sugar, sifted
30g lemon juice, plus additional if needed (see notes)
- PROCESS -
LEMON AND SOUR CREAM CAKE
Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Grease a loaf pan, and line with a parchment paper sling. (9” x 4 ½” x 2 ¾” is what I used. Larger will work, but do not go smaller than this or it will spill in the oven - happened to me and it’s not ideal. haha)
Place the sugar into a large bowl, then zest the lemon directly into the bowl. Using your fingers, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until incorporated. Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to combine.
In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, lemon juice, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla bean paste, and mix to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until completely incorporated. Finish with a rubber spatula if needed to ensure that there are no dry ingredients left on the bottom.
Transfer the mixture to the lined loaf pan, smoothing with an offset spatula or back of a spoon. Place onto a sheet pan (optional step but I like doing it just in case).
Bake the loaf cake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, checking for doneness after 50 minutes and tenting with foil if needed to stop the top of the loaf from browning excessively. Remove from the oven and allow to stand in the pan for 5-10 minutes, before brushing with the lemon syrup (recipe follows). Leave to stand for a further 5 to 10 minutes, brushing additional syrup on if it seems to be absorbing, then remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Using a spoon or offset spatula, spread with the glaze (recipe follows). Allow 10-15 minutes for it to set slightly before serving. Garnish with additional zest if desired. Slice thickly using a sharp bread knife.
Leftovers can be wrapped or stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Place the lemon juice and syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine, then heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then simmer for 2 minutes to allow it to reduce slightly. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Stir until well combined, then add more lemon juice a small squeeze at a time until you have a thick glaze (you need it to be thicker than you think so it doesn’t run). Spread onto the cake.