Lemon-flavored desserts always top the list of favorites among readers. This one is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser, with lemon zest mixed in the batter, syrup soaked into the warm cakes, and glaze poured over the top-not to mention the beautiful garnish of candied lemon slices. MAKES TWO 9-BY-5 INCH LOAVES.
FOR THE CAKES
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream
FOR THE CANDIED LEMON SLICES AND SYRUP
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 lemons, sliced 1/8 inch thick or thinner, seeds removed
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)
FOR THE GLAZE
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 4 to 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
- Make the cakes: Preheat oven to 3500F. Butter two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt baking soda, and lemon zest.
- With an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; mix a vanilla. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of sour cream.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes (tent loosely with foil if tops begin to brown too quickly).
- Meanwhile, make candied lemon slices and syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar and the water; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add lemon slices; simmer very gently over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until slices are opaque throughout, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat; with a slotted spoon, transfer slices to a sheet of waxed paper. Stir lemon juice into syrup to taste.
- Remove cakes from oven. While still in pans, use a wooden skewer of toothpick to poke several holes in tops. Set aside 1/4 cup lemon syrup; pour remainder over cakes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool completely, about 2 hours. Turn out cakes onto rack; set rack; set rack over a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Brush tops and sides of cakes all over with reserved syrup.
- Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and 4 tablespoons lemon juice; add up to 2 more tablespoons juice until glaze is pourable but thick. Pour over cakes (still on rack), letting it drip down sides. Let set, about 30 minutes. Garnish with candied lemon slices.