This past week marked the beginning of Alex’s birthday celebrations. Plural because I have decided as she gets older and has more friends, it is better to celebrate with friends separately from family, and honestly my in laws separately from my family, just because they live farther away in D.C. and my family lives relatively nearby in Columbus, creating scheduling headaches. What all of this translates into is lots of birthday celebrations for Alex (and hopefully Sammy too starting this fall, since 4 will be her first friend party).
For the first little celebration, with my in laws, I made Vietnamese bun (she requested steak, and it was a great way to serve it without breaking the bank) and Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Peppermint Buttercream Frosting. However, her birthday coincided with her ballet recital (and Sammy’s), and Alex had been unable to decide between chocolate and lemon, so I made this lemon bundt cake for the after-recital treat the next day (and yes that is half of a cake, as I took the photos the next day, after serving it the previous night).
This lemon bundt differs from others I have tried in that you poke holes into the cake and brush the lemon sugar syrup into the holes before inverting the cake and brushing the top of the cake as well. I made a crucial mistake at this stage because I ignored the (frankly un-emphasized) instruction to cool the cake on a plate and cooled it on a cooling rack like normal. Big mistake, as much of the syrup dripped back out, carrying bits of cake with it. It was a delicious clean-up, I confess, but I would like to try the cake with the syrup properly retained.
I think my favorite lemon bundt cake remains the Ultra Lemon Bundt Cake by Lisa Yockelson, but this cake certainly did not disappoint and was definitely simpler in execution. The glaze came together quickly–and there was only one–and the only lemon in the cake came from zest. Just make sure you cool the darn thing on a platter!
Lemon Sour Cream Bundt Cake
Closely adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Rose’s Heavenly Cakes
2 large eggs, room temperature (100 g)
1 large egg yolk, room temperature (18 g)
3/4 cup + 1 T (200 g) sour cream, divided (I had to supplement with some low fat)
2 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups (250 g) cake flour
1 1/4 cups (250 g) superfine sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 T lemon zest
14 T (1 3/4 sticks, 200 g) unsalted butter, room temperature (65-75 F)
1/2 cup + 1 T (112 g) sugar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 2-3 lemons (6 T, 3 fluid oz)
Spray a 10 cup bundt pan with baking spray with flour. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 F with the rack set in the lower third of the oven.
Whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, 1/4 cup of the sour cream and the vanilla until lightly combined. Do not over-whisk. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and lemon zest until thoroughly combined (about 30 seconds on low speed). Add the butter and remaining sour cream and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients have been moistened and will not fly out of the bowl. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed; the mixture will become lighter and fluffier, more liked a batter and less like a cookie dough.
Starting once again on low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in 2 additions, eventually beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape the down the sides and bottom of the bowl once again and beat for a few for more moments.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out mostly clean–the edges of the cake will only shrink away from the sides of the pan after removing the cake from the oven. Shortly before the cake is finished baking, make the lemon syrup.
Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small nonreactive sauce pan and heat over low heat. Do not let the syrup boil, but instead just stir to dissolve the sugar and keep the syrup warm.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, poke it all over with a thin skewer (I just used the cake tester) and brush it with about 1/3 of the syrup. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Invert the cake onto a serving platter or cake keeper (not a cooling rack) and brush the cake all over with the remainder of the syrup. Make sure to get the top, sides and center hole of the cake. Cool completely and then either wrap the cake or cover with the cake keeper lid. It is best made 1 day in advance.