This is a terrific cake as is or as a foil for fresh fruits. The recipe makes one large 10 inch tube cake or two 9x5 inch loaf size cakes. Wrap the cake in plastic after glazing and allow it to sit for a day to allow flavors to penetrate and develop. Store at room temperature up to 3 days.
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 10 inch tube pan. In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, combine the butter with 3 cups of the sugar and beat at high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Beat the flour mixture into the butter in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 20 seconds after each addition. Continue to beat for 1 minute longer after all the buttermilk and flour have been added.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a metal cake tester or a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the lemon glaze: In a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the lemon juice with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Cook over moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
As soon as the cake is done, transfer the pan to a wire cake rack set over a baking sheet. With a thin toothpick, pierce through the cake in several places. Brush with half of the warm lemon glaze. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then free the sides of the cake from the pan with a thin, sharp knife. Invert the cake onto a large plate or platter, then brush the top and sides with the remaining glaze. Cool to room temperature. Serves 12 - 14.