Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake

This lemon cake from the Barefoot Contessa herself is a classic, old-fashioned pound cake. It’s delightfully tingly with lemon flavor and drizzled with sweet-tart lemon glaze. Serve it with lemon curd and fresh raspberries.

Ina Garten's lemon cake, a pound cake, on a rack, drizzled with a lemon glaze, a spoon nearby

A photograph of this lemon cake in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook prompted dozens of people to request the recipe. Here it is! This is such a versatile cake. I like to serve it with lemon curd and fresh raspberries, but a slice with a cup of tea in the afternoon is also fine just with me. Originally published May 15, 2001.Ina Garten

LC How Many Lemons Is That? Note

Is it just us or is it rather maddening to stand there in the grocery store looking at a recipe that calls for a certain amount of fresh lemon juice but gives nary a clue as to how many lemons that means? Part of the problem is that the yield of any lemon varies immensely given a particular fruit’s size and freshness. A conservative guesstimate? Count on 2 to 3 tablespoons juice per lemon. If you end up with an extra lemon, well, better than the alternative. We’re waiting for an iPhone app that can guesstimate a particular lemon’s yield.

Ina Garten's Lemon Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • (10)
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes two 8-inch loaves
4.9/5 - 10 reviews
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  • For the cake
  • For the glaze


Make the cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans.
Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and makes a syrup. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack set over a tray. Turn the cakes right-side up and spoon the lemon syrup generously over the mounded tops, allowing the syrup to dribble down the sides. Let the cakes sit to cool completely.
Make the glaze
Combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.
Print RecipeBuy the Barefoot Contessa Parties! cookbook

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Recipe Testers Reviews

This was the perfect recipe for me to make on a cold winter day to give me a little taste of summer. Of course it would also be a welcome summer dessert. The cake is tart but not too tart. In my opinion the perfect balance of sweetness to tart. Because 1/3 cup zest is quite a bit, a good zester is a handy tool (note to self:get a better zester). The lemon juice and sugar that you cook together to make the syrup didn’t get very thick but sure gave the cake another jolt of luscious lemon. All my tasters but one really enjoyed this cake. I’ll definitely make this one again, and next time will take it to the next level by making some lemon curd to serve with it, as suggested by Ina.

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