Citrus Cake with Sweet Lemon Frosting

I’ve got a confession to make. I baked this on Friday, shot the photos on Saturday, and I have literally eaten one whole loaf to myself since then. I think I woke up in the middle of the night mumbling “i’ve eaten too much lemon cake”. It’s really bad. This recipe is highly addictive so I am warning you well in advance, do not bake it unless you have amazing self restraint because it’s not exactly healthy… it’s cake people, don’t let the lemons and grapefruits fool you!
If you are looking for a light dessert then this is it. It’s delicious along side a cup of tea, or on it’s own and it has the right amount of sweetness to it with bright citrus flavour that takes over and makes your tastebuds dance. The icing is the perfect balance of sweet and tart, I could eat it by the spoonful. I’m telling you, this cake is a drug and writing this is making me want another slice.

It’s been so cold lately, and the sun is often hidden behind grey clouds, so baking with bright citrus fruits exploding with flavour was the perfect pick me up this weekend. I think it may have had an effect on the weather because yesterday felt like spring! We were finally able to bring Winslow to the dog park, something we haven’t been able to do in over two weeks. He got soaked head to toe, covered in slush, and we had to throw him in the bath when we got home, but he had a big dog grin on his face which made it all worth it. It was such a great feeling to be able to stand outside and feel the sun beating down on us like a warm hug. Anne Bradstreet said it well – “If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant.”  I’m definitely beyond excited for spring! In the meantime, go bake this citrus cake to bring some instant sunshine into your life!

Citrus Cake Recipe (Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
(Makes 2 loafs)

You will need:

For the cakes:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice)
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Lemon Icing

½ stick butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest

What you need to do:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8 1/2-by-4 1/4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper (optional).

2. Cream butter and 2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mixing at medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, then add lemon zest.

3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup citrus juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter evenly between pans, smooth tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

4. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup citrus juice in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves.

5. When cakes are done, let them cool 10 minutes. Invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon lemon syrup over cakes. Let cakes cool completely.

6. For icing, combine in small batches confectioners’ sugar, 4 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth. (I say small batches because powdered sugar will get everywhere). Evenly spread over cakes and allow some of the icing to drizzle down the sides. Let the icing harden before slicing.