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Prep 1 hr
Cook 1 hr 15 mins
I stumbled on to this recipe sometime in the early 1980s, in one of Maida Heatter's incomparable dessert books. This truly is the best lemon cake you'll ever eat. It's not much to look at, but I've had friends actually react by gasping when they take a bite. You MUST use fresh lemon juice and zest; it's really not the same without it.
- 1⁄2 cup almonds, blanched
- 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (double-acting)
- 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, graded large
- 1⁄2 cup milk
- 1 ounce lemon extract
- 3 lemons, sized medium (or 2 large, use grated rind in cake, and 1/3 cup of the juice for the glaze)
- 1⁄3 cup granulated sugar, plus
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1⁄3 cup lemon juice, fresh (from lemons listed above)
- Spray an 8-1/2"x5" loaf pan with baking spray.
- Grind almonds very fine and set aside.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
- In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter. Transfer to a large bowl. With electric mixer, add sugar and beat a bit to mix.
- On low speed, beat in eggs one at a time, beating only to mix well.
- Add dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with milk in two additions, scraping bowl with a spatula and beating until mixed after each addition.
- Mix in lemon extract.
- Remove from mixer. Stir in grated rind, then stir in ground almonds.
- Turn mixture into pan. (It will be thin.) Bake at 350 for 65-75 minutes. (During baking, cake will form a large crack or two on top, and crack(s) will remain light in color.).
- A few minutes before cake is finished, prepare glaze: stir sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over moderate heat, only until sugar is just dissolved. (Don't boil!).
- When cake is removed from the oven, let it stand for 2-3 minutes. Then, using brush, brush the hot glaze gradually over the hot cake. Glaze should not be applied quickly; it should take about 5 minutes to apply all the glaze.
- Let cake stand until not quite completely cool. Then gently invert onto a rack and turn right side up. When cool, wrap in plastic wrap or foil and let stand 12-24 hours before serving.