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Lemoniest of Lemony Lemon Loaves


For my birthday, Jordan gave me the Baked cookbook that the peanut butter cookies came from.  I was with the kids at the park, she called and asked where I was, and drove her beautiful self up to the park to give it to me.  She was nervous I might have it already since I lusted after it publicly, but no.  I didn't have it, I love it, and it was the last in a string of very thoughtful gifts Jordan has given me over the years.


Can I just get it over with already and sing Jordan's praises?  Many of you know her and will likely shout "Amen!" while reading this.  Jordan is one of the most resilient, thoughtful, honest, creative, loving people I know.  I could put more adjectives in there but its bad writing.  Her gift-giving is just one example.  She carries around all the time, in her mind and heart, the passions, likes and dislikes of all the people she loves. Consequently, she's always got a storehouse of gifts waiting to be given.  In January, she'll say, "I can't wait till your birthday in June.  I found the perfect thing."  The gifts aren't extravagant--they're just perfect.  The recipients inevitably feel completely known and loved.  And that's how I feel around her all the time.

She's had a really hard year--harder and more complicated than I could ever describe.  In the midst and in spite of that, the beautiful things about her have come into stark relief.  In suffering, I've observed that people usually become MORE of who they are.  If they were bitter beforehand, they become even more bitter.  In Jordan's case, she's become even more of the generous, observant, and sensitive person she already was (there--I worked in more adjectives).  For me and others in her circle, we have watched with amazement.

So I've been eager to spend some serious time with my cookbook.  I want to bake every single thing in it.  I'm not one of those people that loves the process of baking.  You know--the measure-once-cut-twice gal that I am.  Baking has a lot more variables than a good plate of pasta.  But I'm a good baker, and extremely motivated by the end product.  Yancey thinks it's a funny (and endearing, right honey?) quality of mine. When we go fishing every summer, I'm ho-hum about the meditative practice of fishing on a pristine lake.  But I'm gung-ho about fresh trout with lemon and garlic.

I chose this lemon loaf as my first Baked endeavor because Jordan and her mom made something similar for book club one night, and it was divine.  As was this.  Get out your loaf pans--you won't be sorry.

P.S. Due to the popularity of this cookbook, this may be one of the recipes circulating in the blogosphere.  I really have no idea.  If it is, now you have one more reason to make it.  And you let me talk your ear off about Jordan.


Lemon Lemon Loaf
From the cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. The only thing changes reflected here are doubling the lemon juice in the cake from 1/4 c. to 1/2 c and making 1 c. of the syrup instead of 2/3 c.  That's something I learned from Mom--namely, the smarty-pants that write cookbooks never put enough lemon in lemon baked goods.  My cakes did turn out considerably flatter than the photo, though, so maybe I'm paying the price?  I don't know.  The other thing I learned from my Mom was always to distrust cookbook photos and not get too attached to them.  Taste is what matters.  This recipe makes two loaves.  Of course you can halve it.  I sent one to the fire station (surprise!) and kept the other one for us.  Wyatt's FAVORITE thing in the world is lemon baked goods.  Isn't that cute?  He inhaled this last night.

For cake:
1 1/2 c. cake flour
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 ts. baking powder
1/4 ts. baking soda
1 ts. salt
2 1/4 c. sugar
8 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 c. grated lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
2 c. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 c. sour cream, at room temperature
2 ts. vanilla

For lemon syrup:
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. sugar

For lemon glaze (optional--I did it)
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
4-6 Tb. fresh lemon juice

Make the cakes
Preheat oven to 350.  Butter the sides and bottoms of two 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pans.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper (or cut out from paper bags) and butter the paper.

Mix dry ingredients together in a medium bow.

Put the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until combined.  With the motor running, drizzle the butter in through the feed tube.  Add the sour cream and vanilla and pulse until combined.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Sprinkle in the flour mixture, one third at a time, folding gently after each addition until just combined.  Do not overmix.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, reduce the oven temp to 325, and bake for another 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the lemon syrup
In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and invert the loaves onto the pan.  Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the loaves.

Brush the tops and sides of the loaves with the lemon syrup.  Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cakes cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

If you like, make the lemon glaze
In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and 4 Tb. of the lemon juice.  The mixture should be thick but pourable.  If the mixture is too stiff, add up to another 2 Tb. of the lemon juice and whisk again, adding small amounts of lemon juice and/or powdered sugar until you get the right consistency.  Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides.  Let the glaze harde, about 15 minutes, before serving.

The glazes loaves will keep for up to 3 days, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Reader Comments (23)

I adore lemon loaf, even one of average quality. I'm almost in tears over this one.With the glaze! Oh yes, the glaze! And an excellent americano. I usually drink my coffee with some form of cream and sugar, but for something like this, just the coffee. This lemon loaf,and americano, and an actual full hour to savor it slowly with good friends while talking about a good book... heavenly.

HEY PDS, remember the Linda Cooper Lemon Cake? It seems like 100 years ago...

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Momosis

I wish I would have known of your adoration! I would have brought you some this morning. It's filed away.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersarahmk

That looks fantastic - I love lemon desserts. I'll definitely be giving this a try. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog - I will be back to yours soon!

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDonalyn

It's always welcome, but it's a shame to have to snarf it down while making sure the boys aren't running into traffic.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Momosis

Wow, this looks delicious! It's perfect since I have a bag of lemons sitting on my counter from last week. I was going to look up your lemon preserve recipe, but I'll try this instead.
We just finished dinner and the kids are in the bath (papa watching), while I'm typing here! Anyway, I had to share...My son asked, "Mama, why is there only 2 pieces of broccoli on my plate?" I joyously replied, "Because these are leftovers!" I had made the Blasted Broccoli 2 nights before. I don't think I have ever been so full of praise over leftovers until now! You have really changed the way we eat and am so ever grateful! Thank you!

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMidori

Well I just have to say that Sarah did a good job baking the lemon loaf, but even a better job describing Jordon's character. She has brought so much to my daughter's life,and everything she says about her is true! The 2 things I've observed (about the observer) is she is indeed creative, and generous. She staged both of the houses Yancey built, and they both sold in due time, they looked fabulous. I wanted everything she put in them.
I hope you were able to share tea and lemon loaf with Sarah, it would've made it taste even better . I'm glad your are a big part of her life!!!!!.......thanks for loving on her.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermfm

P,S. I'm making this tomorrow! yum, yum, yum.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermfm

Sarah--I LOVE cookbooks, I don't even think love is the right word. They're totally eye candy and your mom is right about the whole don't pay attention to the photo, because it's the end product that counts. Just a little note, I made both the scones out of that book (checked it out from the library) and I unfortunately used Meyer lemons for the sour lemon scones, which I believe was my downfall. Also, I didn't make candied lemon for it, but it said it was optional and so I would say stick with your mom's old adage about lemons for that one. However, the maple walnut scones are fantastic. I changed it up a bit by using whole wheat flour (probably whole wheat pastry flour would be best) to add more fiber and cut back the baking time a bit and yum-o!

Your friend sounds wonderful by the way!

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkamille scellick

P.S. I would definitely agree with Wyatt and don't understand people who dislike lemon desserts.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkamille scellick

AMEN. and AMEN. can't wait to try the loaf, but wanted to echo the praises of beautiful jordan. she is a friend and woman that has a way of filling and inspiring the souls blessed to know her ... and now she has a hand in filling tummies too. YUM. thanks, sarah.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbdale

I love lemon baked goods as well. The loaves look delicious. What a great gift! A cookbook!

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEralda

I am really hot and cold on that cookbook. Half of the things I have made have been amazing and the other half, not so much. I will give this a try since everyone I know loves lemon.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDana

lemon lemon lemon - gotta love it. ANYTIME over chocolate. ANYTIME. Hey, final Home Study tomorrow - we were went our written home study today to review before our case worker comes tomorrow. Kind of weird to have your life in 25 pages. So excited though - will have a hard time sleeping tonight and working tomorrow am. And then I am off to your neck of the woods! Dinner with Dori B. - she is in town for the summer. We are going for Tapas - something I haven't been able to talk Kevin into doing...small plates aren't really appealing to him. Hmph. Some place on Queen Anne...will let you know. Take care!

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeth DeK

Kamille - ok - so now I need to make this and have you guys over... :)

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeth DeK

Love lemon cake. And my Mom is visiting soon and she really loves lemon baked goods. That will be fun to spoil her with. So, folks. Is this best with regular lemons or Meyer lemons?

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Hi Lynn! Since Meyer lemons are a cross between lemons and oranges, they are much sweeter than regular ones. I prefer this cake to be sour (cuts the sweetness of all the sugar) so I'd recommend using regular lemons. Have fun with your Mom!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersarahmk

OMG, I was coming here to post "NAZZ's Mother in law has the best-est lemon cake EVER and I'll never make this one because that one was awesome and came from a box."


July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpds

So that's what Meyer lemons are. Learn something new every day!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpds

Wow, this looks so so good. One of the hardest things about eating locally and seasonally in Portland is the lack of good citrus. Luckily, I'm headed to California for grad school, so lemons will be in just about everything I make!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOakley Rhodes

The recipe goes something like this:

1. Mix a white cake out of the box, but also add 1 can Sprite or 7-up. Bake in a 9 x 12 pan. Cool.
2. Make a glaze out of powdered sugar and lemon juice (probably always out of the bottle). Spread over the top.
3. Take to potluck, enjoy the compliments.

pds, did i forget anything?

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Momosis

I remember poking the cake with a toothpick and pouring something into it. Was it the glaze? I also think we did boxed lemon cake? To be honest, I don't remember it. But I've been craving it for days now. I think it's the perfect excuse for me to come over!

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpds

I found your site through Rainier Health & Fitness and it's a hoot for me how you've create this wonderful blog. I love lemon anything and so I'm going to try your lemon loaves recipe. Also it was good to hear about how Jordan is doing. She is in my prayers often even though we don't see each other much.

I'll be back to see what else you're cooking up!


July 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Robinson

Hi Diana! It's so nice to see you here! Thanks for stopping by.

July 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersarahmk

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