Around this time of year, as any normal Michigander would do, you pray, wish, hope, dance, and dream for spring to come. I start wearing my springtime clothes, hoping the weather will catch my drift and release it’s icy, cold grasp of winter, and allow the sun and warmth to brighten our dreary souls. I start to watch my springtime movies (yes, I have them categorized in my closet…) which is basically anything that has the sounds of birds chirping loudly in the background. And I use lemon in as many dishes possible.
I came across this honestly because my Nana looooved lemons. She had a Meyer lemon tree, she put lemon pepper on pretty much anything savory, and there was always a bottle of lemon juice of the table.
This woman liked her lemons, people.
Living in Cincinnati, her home bore springtime much earlier than my northern Michigan house, so we would travel down every year to visit and warm up. Birds chirping, green grass, warm sun, budding flowers, daily and nightly walks down the quiet lane, and lemons are springtime. They are my comfort. They are Nana.
This cake, if I had found it and created it before our matriarch had to leave us, I am counting on the fact that it would’ve been a favorite. The lemon curd is Martha Stewarts recipe, and I find it quite delicious, but if you have another lemon curd that you love, by all means, please use it! I didn’t document the making of it, for whatever reason. If you would like a detailed description and pictures, I can absolutely make it again (and if I find spare time I might do it anyways).
The cake was inspired from Ree Drumond’s Yogurt-Marmalade cake. It is a keeper folks. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe and opted for lemon curd instead of orange marmalade because I don’t like orange marmalade. (Ironically neither did she, but hey this is my version of the cake and I like lemon better.) It was very good cake. I actually mixed the lemon curd with the yogurt the first time and spread it on and I felt like it was lacking, So I decided for the second time I would use straight lemon curd and drizzle icing over top.
It was… Delightful. Simply DElightful.
I also used mayonnaise instead of yogurt in the cake (the second time around), because 1: I didn’t have any yogurt. Some little yogurt addicted munchkin ate it, and 2: mayonnaise is awesome in cakes. It makes it so incredibly moist. But the point to be taken from this is that this cake is pretty flexible in what mix-in you use. If you don’t have plain greek yogurt, use vanilla greek yogurt, and vise versa. If you don’t have either, use mayonnaise. If you don’t have mayonnaise, use sour cream. You don’t need to make any adjustments on the amounts. It should work the same.
The modified recipe is:
1 Cup of Mayonnaise- don’t be afraid of it.
1 Cup of Sugar
Lemon zest of a whole lemon
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups of AP Flour
2 tsp of Baking powder (please see powder and not soda)
1/2 tsp Salt
Icing and Garnish
1/3-1/2 Cup Powder Sugar
A couple tsp’s of milk
Extra lemon zest for garnish
Combine all of the wet ingredients until well combined. Sift the dry ingredients together (sifting makes baked goods amazing and delicate. I have sifted my whole life and it does make a difference in most products.) Add the wet to the dry, or the dry to the wet. Whatever floats your boat. As long as the bowl will hold it, mix it. Don’t over beat it though. There may be a couple lumps, and it’s ok (Ree’s advice).
In a lightly greased and floured loaf pan (around 9 in), pour in the mixture and pop in the 350˚ preheated oven for 45 minutes.
*Side note: This degree/timing was perfect when using yogurt. But it made the outside a little dark on my mayo cake before the inside was completely done. I turned it down to 300˚ and added 10 more minutes. I would advice to try around 325˚ for 55-60 minutes, but please keep an eye on it. Check with a cake tester to know when the cake is done if you’re unsure (the tester should come out mostly clean).The darkness didn’t affect the flavor a bit. It dealt with aesthetics more than anything. It was still perfectly moist and honestly I actually liked the darker edges a little. And I’m a huge critic (especially on myself) with this.*
Having the cake cool a bit, transfer to a platter. Drop the lemon curd on top and spread over, allowing the curd to drop over the sides.
In a small bowl add the powder sugar (I put different amount depending on how coated you want your cake) and add milk a tsp at time until it’s just runny enough to drizzle over. We don’t want it too runny to where it pools on the platter and non on top, but not to thick to where it clumps and doesn’t go over smoothly. You can always add more powder sugar or more milk (or water if you must). Test it out. Readjust if needed.
Grate lemon zest over top for a finish touch and get ready for springtime in your mouth! This would be awesome at a brunch or a luscious dessert after dinner. I ate it at all times of the day. I’m not ashamed.
If you live somewhere where it warm enough to eat it outside, please eat a slice for me while listening to the birds chirp. I am staring at 3 feet of snow.