Ina’s Lemon Cake

When you last left me, I had just zested 3200 lemons. Okay, it felt like that many. It was maybe more like 32. They were taking up a lot of room in my refrigerator, looking naked without their bright yellow coats, and I knew I had to use them in some capacity very soon. Look at those sad little things!

My attempt at lemon chicken was only appreciated by two out of five family members, and I was one of those two, so I will not bother to share this culinary delight with you, other than to say that ten lemons is probably six lemons too many if you’re making lemon chicken.

I was starting to feel a little resentful about the pressure to use my lemons. I did have book club last night, so I decided to make a lemon cake on a whim. I used to feel like lemon cake was one of the least appealing cakes there is, but I was wrong. Oh, I was very wrong. I should have known Ina would never forsake me.

Unless my book group was just being polite or it was the alcohol talking, people seemed to really like it. And I just polished off a very generous he-man sized piece of cake (shown below), so clearly I have changed my opinion about lemon cake. Thank you, Ina!

Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake


  • 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
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

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

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.


3 thoughts on “Ina’s Lemon Cake

  1. My grandmother (Granny) was famous for her lemon supreme cake. Not sure of her exact cake recipe but she also had a lemon/sugar glaze for the top of it but one of the tricks was to take a long skewer and poke holes in the cake so that the glaze drizzled down not only on the outside of the cake but down into the middle of the cake. Also, her cake was a bundt cake recipe (I inherited her bundt pan and I really should get the recipe from my mom and make it some time in the future).

  2. I had to make a comment. Lemon cake in our family is always a hit and the best part you can make it any time of the year. It’s also a quick cake when you have unexpected guest. So glad you had a change of heart:)

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