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Sour Lemon Cake

86

This tart treat from "Martha Stewart's Christmas" makes a thoughtful food gift -- if you can resist eating it yourself.

  • Yield: Makes two 6-inch round cakes

Photography: Rob Tannenbaum

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • Zest of 2 lemons

For the Glaze

  • 1/3 cup Cognac
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar

For Decorating

Directions

  1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter and flour two 6-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with milk, mixing well after each addition. Stir in lemon zest.

  4. Place 2 3/4 cups batter in each prepared cake pan. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly in pans; invert cake onto a wire rack.

  5. Make the Glaze: In a small bowl, mix together Cognac, lemon juice, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Brush glaze over cake and let cool completely. Serve with candied lemon slices and kumquats.

Reviews Add a comment

  • s4nte
    16 JAN, 2012
    The pound cake is great. Didn't like the candied lemon - it's chewy, difficult to slice through, and makes an unattractive cake topping. Not crazy about the glaze either - it's a bit too boozy. I used 2 6" pans and when the cakes we done I took them out of the oven, covered the domes with kitchen towels and pushed down the domes to level the cakes - worked great. I didn't have to waste cake (by carving off the domes) and it helps keep the cake dense and moist. Would def make the pound cake again
    Reply
  • JasonB
    25 DEC, 2011
    I like the diversity with this cake. I prepared mine in a simple round bundt pan. Instead of using cognac (or any alcohol) I made the glaze with a simple sugar solution and fresh lemon juice. I am considering adding a little sour cream to the cake recipe to make it more moist. Overall, a delicious cake.
    Reply
  • rjameslarsen
    23 DEC, 2011
    I made this into six three inch cakes to give as gifts, ate two of them and had to make more. I used meyer lemons for my cake instead of regular lemons because i prefer the flavor. I will be making cupcake sized cakes next, for a buffet, I plan on topping them with a nice fluffy meringue icing and a candied lemon peel. I don't understand the people who disliked this cake, it's absolutely delicious.
    Reply
  • DebbieHursh
    19 DEC, 2011
    so sad to say I was disappointed with this recipe. I first off thought the pan size was too small, I used a 7" pan (after baking 2 6") and it worked better. However, the flavor of the glaze wasn't quite what I hoped it would be. A simple lemon and sugar glaze would have been better. I also didn't like the candied lemon peel, followed the recipe exactly and they didn't taste good at all. Still looking forward to the next recipe I will try :)
    Reply
  • cajuncookin
    18 DEC, 2011
    Couldn't wait to make this after watching Martha's show. I made it in the two 6 inch pans, trimming the tops when done. I was disappointed in the cake. I prefer a sweeter pound cake, but it was overpowered by the baking powder taste. I hoped the cognac sauce would help, but it didn't. Looks great, but glad I tried the cake before making them for Christmas gifts.
    Reply
  • cajuncookin
    18 DEC, 2011
    Couldn't wait to make this after watching Martha's show. I made it in the two 6 inch pans, trimming the tops when done. I was disappointed in the cake. I prefer a sweeter pound cake, but it was overpowered by the baking powder taste. I hoped the cognac sauce would help, but it didn't. Looks great, but glad I tried the cake before making them for Christmas gifts.
    Reply
  • cajuncookin
    18 DEC, 2011
    Couldn't wait to make this after watching Martha's show. I made it in the two 6 inch pans, trimming the tops when done. I was disappointed in the cake. I prefer a sweeter pound cake, but it was overpowered by the baking powder taste. I hoped the cognac sauce would help, but it didn't. Looks great, but glad I tried the cake before making them for Christmas gifts.
    Reply
  • KimDeV
    17 DEC, 2011
    I am making 12 of these cakes as gifts this year. I did not want to invest in new pans (6") so I used my loaf pans. An 8X4 loaf pan has just slightlhy more volume than a 6" round. i put the recipe in 2 8x4 loaf pans and they came out beautifully! They look very elegant decorated with the candied lemons, and are easy to pack up in a basket with some ornaments and cards.
    Reply
  • WmRichmond
    14 DEC, 2011
    I plan to make about 30 of these for friends and family so i thought I had better do some testing. I too wanted to have a 9" cake so i decided to use my 9" spring-form pans. (parchment lined bottom) I made the batter per the recipe and used all of the batter in one pan. Baked at 350 for 60 minutes. There was a generous crown that baked up which I sliced off to create a flat bottom. (Will freeze and use this cake for something great latter) Cake was cooked perfect. Used every drop of glaze.
    Reply
  • proudgeekmom
    13 DEC, 2011
    I am making 8 of these to use as gifts for my husbands office staff. They love my cooking and baking and look forward to my Christmas surprise every year. So far, so good! I watched the video and that answered all of my questions about the glaze, etc. I am using Nordic Ware baby bundt pans as I do not have round six inch pans in my collection. The baby-cakes are adorable! Very easy and not cost prohibitive to make multiples. Don't tell, but I made an extra for my husband. Try this recipe!
    Reply