I love it when I have lots of time to devote to baking up elaborate desserts, but most of the time I appreciate a baked good that comes together quickly and easily. After all – I always have time for something easy to put together, don’t you? This Quick One Bowl Lemon Loaf Cake couldn’t be easier to put together. It mixes up in one bowl and takes a bit less than an hour to bake, so you don’t have to wait long to enjoy a moist loaf cake that is bursting with lemon flavor.
The cake starts out with sugar and lemon zest. These two ingredients are whisked together to draw the lemon oils out of the zest. This gives you a more potent flavor than simply stirring zest directly into your batter. The other ingredients are added to the lemony sugar, including a generous amount of fresh lemon juice to add more citrus flavor, as well as buttermilk to tenderize and enrich the batter. I also added a splash of vanilla extract to add a hint of floral sweetness to the cake.
I often get asked how many lemons are needed for this recipe. The answer is that it depends on your lemons. At the peak of citrus season, lemons are bursting with juice and you might get away with just two large lemons. Other times, you may need four or more lemons to get as much juice as you need. When in doubt, be sure to have an extra lemon or two on hand! Fresh lemon is the key to getting the best flavor in this recipe, since you need both the juice and the zest.
After baking, the cake is topped with a lemon glaze that bumps up the citrus flavor and adds an additional bit of sweetness to each piece. You can skip the glaze if you prefer a plain cake, but it really adds a nice punch. To dress up the cake, top the glaze with a handful of yellow sprinkles or even some coarse sanding sugar for a bit of sparkle!
Quick One Bowl Lemon Loaf Cake
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest (1 lemon)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.
In a large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest and beat with an electric mixer for about 1 minute, releasing the lemon oils from the zest.
Blend eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract into sugar mixture. Blend in buttermilk and lemon juice. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then whisk until batter is uniform and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Let the cake to cool in the pan for at least 15-20 minutes. Then, use the parchment paper to lift out the cake and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze, combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Start with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and gradually add in a second until the glaze has a thick, yet pourable, consistency. Pour over cooled cake.
Makes 1 cake; serves 10.
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