Lemon Bundt Cake

The sun is shining, the snow is melting quickly, and it finally, finally, feels like spring. I began to despair this moment wouldn't arrive when a blizzard dumped nearly two feet of snow last weekend . After months spent indoors, the appearance of warmer weather feels like releasing a breath I didn't realize I was holding. 

Lemons remind me of spring. The bright color and pucker-worthy flavor are a seasonal wake-up call. With this Lemon Bundt Cake, I wanted to keep the qualities I love about lemons (with an added touch of sweetness).

Lemon makes an appearance three times in this lemon cake. For the first, the zest of two lemons is rubbed into the sugar until fragrant before mixing up the cake batter. The lemon-scented sugar imbues the cake with a delicate flavor.

To bring a stronger lemon flavor to the cake, I like to add lemon oil. Lemon oil is created by simmering lemon zest in oil until the oil is infused with flavor. It can usually be found in stores with a cake decorating section, or online. Lemon oil is more concentrated than lemon extract, which means that less is needed to bring a bold flavor.

However, when it comes to lemon, I believe more is more so I prefer to add a good teaspoon of lemon oil (though you can certaintly add less to suit your own preferences). Though lemon oil is not a necessary ingredient, it does reinforce the lemon flavor in the cake.

Lastly, but certainly not least, once the baked cake is unmolded (and still warm), it is brushed with a lemon glaze. The glaze is made by dissolving sugar into the juice of two lemons. I prefer a tart, punchy glaze, but you could add up to a 1/4 cup more sugar to sweeten it.

The glaze serves two purposes for the cake and should not be skipped. The first purpose is to soak the exterior with intense, vibrant flavor. Use your bundt pan that provides the greatest exterior surface area so the glaze can reach a more substantial portion of the cake. Secondly, the glaze seals the cake, which prevents it from drying out so it can stay fresh longer.

 This lemon-infused cake is best served with the ones you love on a bright, sunny day.

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This Lemon Bundt Cake heavily features the flavor of its namesake. The batter is infused with both lemon zest and lemon oil to give it a bright lemon flavor. Once baked, the cake is brushed with a lemon glaze on the outer edges to give the cake additional flavor and to seal in the cake's moisture. Serve plain or with a spoonful of coconut whipped cream.

One Year Ago: Basic Sandwich Bread 
Two Years Ago: Hazelnut Cherry Granola
Three Years Ago: Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Loaf 
Four Years Ago: Honey Almond Quinoa Granola & Coconut Tapioca Pudding
Five Years Ago:  Almond Joy Candy Bars, Mango Lassi, PB & J Muffins, & Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (GF)
Six Years Ago: Irene's Orange Rolls, S'mores Cupcakes, Mai Tai, Homemade Mascarpone, & Ladyfingers
Seven Years Ago: Roasted Pineapple, Lemon Thins, & Vanilla Pear Muffins

Lemon Bundt Cake

Yields 12-16 servings

Lemon Cake
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup (180 mL) vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon oil (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) milk

Lemon Glaze
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Heavily grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan. Set aside.

For the lemon cake, place the granulated sugar and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Rub the sugar and zest together until fragrant. Whisk in the vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, lemon oil, salt, and baking powder. Alternate adding the flour and milk, stirring after each addition, until the batter is smooth and uniform in appearance. 

Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes before unmolding.

While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze by heating the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Set aside. 

Place the cake on a cooling rack and brush the glaze over the cake, giving time for the glaze to absorb between layers. Allow the cake to cool completely and the glaze to set before cutting and serving.

Baked Lemon Poppy Seed Doughnuts

The romance of winter is fading as we enter the depths of the season. The novelty of the crisp, cold air has worn off; we pay no mind to the fleeting clouds materializing and dissipating in time with our breaths. The white snow has darkened, developing an industrial look to match that of the bustling city in which it lay. This month takes on the color gray for me, a match in both weather and mood.

The color gray is washed out. The vitamin D levels drop. The color gray is exhaustion. The news cycle (and the ensuing emotions) is inescapable. The color gray is fatigue. The days blur together in repetition and familiarity. To step out of these gray surroundings, I spent Saturday at an art museum, enveloping myself in a world of color, choosing to step away from my gray reality for a few hours. The atmosphere in museums carries a certain stillness about it, revealing a rich history with a closer look. It is about finding a new perspective in the unexpected pieces that draw the idea and speak to an inner truth.

If you are surrounded in gray, take time to embrace color—whether it be in nature, literature, or an art museum on a Saturday afternoon. Color is the antidote to the oppressive, stifling gray.

The gray began its slow descent back into my life on Sunday, surfacing in my baking and photography. At least until the color of the fruit basket caught my eye; the pink grapefruits and sunshine lemons a reminder of the artwork from the day before.

Lemons are a winter fruit, bright yellow and acidic. When combined with the sweetness of sugar and the subtle nuttiness of poppy seeds, the lemon takes on a bold, vivid flavor.  These  baked lemon poppy seed doughnuts may have a simple, monochromatic appearance, but the taste is a genuine pop of color in a gray landscape.

Baked Lemon Poppy Seed Doughnuts have a bold personality. The batter is infused with lemon zest and crunchy poppy seeds. The baked doughnuts have a cake-like texture. Don't skip the lemon glaze on these doughnuts—the glaze is mixed with fresh lemon juice and provides a bright, vibrant flavor to the overall dessert. The recipe can be doubled to fit your needs.

One Year Ago: Cacao Hot Chocolate & Bruleed Lemon Tart
Two Years Ago: Cranberry Orange Muffins & Pear Vanilla Sorbet
Three Years Ago: Double Chocolate Brownies, Pear Chocolate Scones, & Honey Oat Bread
Four Years Ago:  Rosemary Sandwich Bread, Cranberry Flax MuffinsChocolate Ginger Cookies, & Vanilla Marshmallows
Five Years Ago: Cinnamon Sugar CakeVanilla Bean Pudding, Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Dark Chocolate Oatmeal
Six Years Ago: Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread, Cranberry Wine Spritzer, Quick Chocolate Cake, & Frosted Yellow Cake

Baked Lemon Poppy Seed Doughnuts

Yields 6 doughnuts

Lemon Poppy Seed Doughnuts
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 1/2 lemons
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup (80 mL) milk

Lemon Glaze
1 1/4 cups (140 grams) powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a standard-size doughnut pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and lemon zest until fragrant. Whisk in the vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds. Stir in the lemon juice and milk until uniform. 

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag (or large resealable plastic kitchen bag with the corner snipped off). Fill the depressions in the prepared pan with the batter until 2/3 full (alternatively, if appearance does not matter, you could spread the batter into the pan using an offset spatula, but this results in more unevenly shaped doughnuts). Bake the doughnuts for 12-15 minutes, or until puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the lemon glaze, stir together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, thin with a teaspoon or two of additional lemon juice.

Dip the cooled doughnuts into the glaze, allowing any excess to drip off. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top. The glaze will take 10-15 minutes to set, depending on the thickness.

Brûléed Lemon Tart

The cold weather that winter brings provides the perfect reason to turn on the oven. Warming the home with the scent of butter and sugar lifts spirits, countering the doldrums that can follow when we hibernate indoors. In winter, I turn to pastries with bright and bold flavors to counter the rich comfort food. With citrus fruit in peak season during the winter months, lemons are next pick on my menu.

In partnership with King Arthur Flour, each month I want to challenge you with a new recipe, filled with step-by-step explanations and techniques, to help you grow and develop as a baker. This month we're taking on a brûléed lemon tart.  Lemon tarts, or tarte au citron, are a classic French dessert, combining a tart lemon filling with a buttery crust. This version of a lemon tart blends the French classic with a burnt sugar top to add a new textural dimension.  

The tart dough combines a mixture of pastry and almond flour. Pastry flour naturally creates tender baked goods. Pastry flour has less protein than all-purpose flour, which means that less gluten forms in the dough. Almond flour is also added to the dough; the subtle nutty flavor complements the bright citrus fruit, and adds to the crust’s delightful texture. To counteract the lower amount of gluten in the flours, an egg is added as a binder. With powdered sugar for sweetness and butter for tenderness, the tart dough comes together in a similar fashion to cookie dough.

By using these nontraditional flours, the baked crust takes on a crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth quality that matches the silkiness of the lemon filling.

The tart dough will have a texture similar to cookie dough when prepared. Because the dough is too soft to roll out into a sheet, it is directly pressed into the tart pan with the heel of your hand. I find it easiest to tear the dough into pieces and spread them out evenly on the bottom of the pan. This technique makes it relatively simple to press the dough into a uniform thickness. I also reserve a small amount of dough to fill in thin spots after pressing, especially along the sides of the pan where it tends to be an irregular thickness.

The dough is then poked with a fork along the bottom of the pan to release air when it is baked. This prevents the dough from rising, helping keep its original shape.

Before baking, the tart dough is chilled in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. By chilling the dough, it allows the gluten in the dough to relax, which minimizes shrinking during the baking process. Chilling also hardens the butter, will contribute to the crust's flaky texture when baking. Overall, chilling the dough is a win-win situation when it comes to pastry.

The lemon filling is made in a similar fashion to lemon curd. To start, lemon zest is rubbed into granulated sugar with your fingers, releasing the oils in the peel to create additional flavor. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is mixed in with a few eggs, which are used to thicken the filling. The picture on the left shows the filling before heating.

While heating, the filling should be whisked constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling. After 8-10 minutes, the eggs will have thickened the mixture enough so that the whisk will leave tracks in the filling. This is when you will know it is done. I prefer to run the filling through a fine mesh strainer to remove the zest and remaining solids to give the filling a silky smooth finish. This is shown in the picture on the right.

Butter is added one cube at a time to the filling to lend a rich creaminess. Each cube of butter should be fully melted and incorporated into the filling before adding another. This slow process of adding the fat in the butter to the water in the filling creates an emulsion, making the filling stable.

The tart crust is baked separately before adding the filling. This prevents a soggy tart crust and produces a crust that is tender and buttery instead. Then the filling is added and finishes baking until set. The tart is left to cool to room temperature for several hours to set up the filling. For the perfect slices with clean edges, I suggest covering the tart after it has cooled and allowing it to sit overnight at room temperature.

Just before serving, sprinkle the top with a generous amount of granulated sugar and use a torch to melt it into a crisp topping. While a kitchen torch will do, I like to bring out the full-sized blowtorch for this job (I was gifted one for Christmas several years ago, and love finding excuses to use it). To prevent the sugar from burning, start by holding the torch a good distance away from the tart, slowing moving closer, until you find the right height to caramelize, but not burn the sugar. Also keep the torch away from the edge of the tart crust; it will burn if you are not careful.

If serving a few pieces instead of the entire tart, just sugar and torch those individual slices. The sugar topping will not stay crisp once stored.

Brûléed Lemon Tart is a bright, citrus dessert to add color and flavor to these cold winter days. A tender crust holds in a creamy lemon filling, which balances the tart lemon with the sweetness of sugar. The tart is burnt using a torch to add a crisp, textured topping. Serve the whole tart at once for family and friends, or individual slices one at a time for you and the ones you love.

One Year Ago: Pear Vanilla Sorbet
Two Years Ago: Pear Chocolate Scones
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookies and Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
Four Years Ago: Dark Chocolate Oatmeal
Five Years Ago: Zuppa Toscano and Quick Chocolate Cake

Bruleed Lemon Tart

Yield 8-12 servings

Tart Dough
8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (225 grams)
King Arthur Pastry Flour
1/2 cup (50 grams) King Arthur Almond Flour

Lemon Filling
Zest of 3 lemons
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup (120 mL) fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, cubed

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until light. Add the egg, vanilla, and salt and continue mixing until uniform, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the flours, mixing until the dough comes together and begins to gather in the bowl.

Press dough into an 10-inch ungreased tart pan evenly on the bottom and sides. Poke a fork into the bottom to release air while baking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

To make the lemon filling, combine the lemon zest and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Mix together with your fingers until fragrant. Whisk in the lemon juice and eggs.

Cook the mixture over medium to medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens (you should be able to make tracks in the mixture with your whisk). This will take about 8-10 minutes. Use a fine mesh strainer to remove the zest. Add the butter, one cube at a time, whisking until it is fully incorporated before adding another. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Bake chilled tart dough for 15-20 minutes, or until dry in appearance and touch. Add lemon filling and continue baking for 25-30 minutes, or until filling has set. Cool to room temperature.

Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sugar over the tart.* Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crisp top. Serve immediately.

*If serving a few pieces instead of the entire tart, only sprinkle and torch the pieces going to be served. The sugar topping will not stay crisp once stored.

This post is sponsored through a partnership with King Arthur Flour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.