Friday 16 July 2021

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
One major weakness of mine is cake.  Another one is lemon.  Combine the two things and I fear I am totally a lost cause. Can. Not. Resist.

Especially when it is a cake that is as delicious as this Lemon Buttermilk Loaf Cake.  With its full on lemon flavors and scrumptious lemon glaze topping, this cake spells winner with capital "W" "I" "N" "N" "E" "R!"  Make no mistake about it!

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
I have never met a lemon cake I did not love and this one is no exception. It is a well known fact that buttermilk makes cakes that are wonderfully moist and rich. 

There are a lot of lemon buttermilk cake recipes out there, but most are baked in a Bundt tin. This one differs in that it is baked in a loaf pan, and it makes one loaf, not two, or three, etc.  Just one incredibly moist and lemony cake.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
   One 8 by 4 inch loaf.  Enough to serve 4 really hungry people, or two hungry people with leftovers, or 8 peckish people.  It all depends on if you are peckish, hungry, or you just adore lemon cake.

If you are here, I gather you are at least one of those.  But I am pretty sure you at least love lemon cake.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
If you have lemons, butter, buttermilk, sugar, eggs, flour and a few odds and sundries like vanilla, baking powder and baking soda, then you already have the makings of this lush, moist and delicious cake! 

I used to belong to a baking group, called Tuesdays with Dorie.  In that group we used to bake one recipe a week, together as a group from Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking with Dorie. Sadly I had to leave all of my Dorie Greenspan books back in the UK last autumn. 

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
I actually learned a lot from baking her recipes however. One thing was that to get a real depth of lemon flavor into baked goods, it helps to rub the lemon zest into the sugar.

Just measure out your sugar, add your freshly grated zest and start rubbing.  Before you know it your nose and your kitchen will be filled with the lovely fragrance of lemon, and your bake will be filled with abundant lemon flavours.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 

This single act helps to release all of the natural oils in the lemon skins/zest and imparts a lovely flavor to the cake. I have done it ever since I learned it from Dorie and have never regretted it. You won't either.

Do you wash your lemons before you zest them?  I do.  You never know what lurks on the skins of your lemons.  Not to be indelicate or anything, but lemons are grown in hot dry climates for the most part, and you know what proliferates in hot dry climates?  Flies.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
Those clusters of little black or brown dots you may see here and there on your lemon skins . . .  fly dirt.  SO I wash my lemons. Unwaxed, waxed, no matter.  Also there are pesticides which are used.

So I just give the skins a good wash under cold running water and use a veggie bush to give them a bit of a scrub and then dry them with a soft dry cloth. 

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
I could be wrong of course  . . .  but what then if I am right. Its not a chance I like to take.  Mind you, when I was a child I thought banana seeds were spider eggs, lol.  I didn't eat a banana for years on that presumption, lol.

Do use real lemon juice in this cake.  Please don't use the little squeeze lemon bottles of reconstituted juice. It just is not the same.  There is a huge difference in flavor. 

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
It might be re-constituted from real lemon juice, but there's other stuff in there. I can smell it and I can taste it. Just don't.  Real, fresh lemon juice is the way to go.

How else are you going to get that lovely fresh zest anyways?  Unless you use fresh lemons.  Eh?

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
There is something magical about buttermilk that renders every baked good it touches deliciously moist. Some sort of chemical reaction. I am no chemist, but I love buttermilk anything.  Cakes, cookies, loaves, pies, biscuits, breads . . . 

All are fabulous. If you don't have any buttermilk, you can make a suitable substitute by adding 1 TBS of lemon juice to a measuring cup and adding the amount of liquid buttermilk you need in whole milk to take its place. Let it sit for five minutes to clabber.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
Vinegar will do the same thing.  I used to have to do this a lot in the UK because I couldn't always find buttermilk.  I don't know what was up with that. 

Ireland is steeped in buttermilk, but in the UK?  Largely an unsung hero. If you could find it at all, it was only ever in 1 cup sized pots.   I am so grateful to be back in the land of buttermilk.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 
Have you ever marinated your chicken in buttermilk before you cook it?  Oh boy, but does it ever make for tender chicken.

One of my favorite chicken recipes is this Buttermilk Chicken. Oh boy but it is some juicy and delicious. I haven't made it in a while. Time to make it again methinks.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake 

Even more lemon flavor comes from the lush lemon glazed which gets spooned over top of the cake.  Its just icing sugar, cream and lemon juice, oh and a bit of lemon zest.

The cake is lovely without it, but the glaze turns lovely into magnificent.  Devine!!  Lush!!! Beautiful!!!!

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

If you have time to bake only one cake this weekend, let it be this one. You won't regret it.  I can promise you that! 

You could inject even more lemon flavor into the cake by brushing it with a simple lemon syrup when it comes out of the oven. I sometimes do.  Simply warm together 1/4 cup of sugar (50g), 1/4 cup of water (60ml) and 1 1/2 TBS of lemon juice, until the sugar completely dissolves.  

Using a pastry brush, brush it on top of the lemon loaf, letting it soak in and brushing it on some more, repeating until you have used it all up.

There is no two ways about it. This is one fabulous lemon cake. Enjoy!!

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Yield: One 8 X 4 inch loaf
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 40 MinTotal time: 50 Min
This beautifully moist loaf cake is bursting with lovely lemon flavors1


  • 1 1/2 (210 grams)cups all purpose plain flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1/2 cup (120grams) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (195 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 TBS freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 3 fluid ounces of buttermilk
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
For the glaze:
  • 3/4 cup (95 gram) icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 TBS heavy cream
  • 1/2 TBS fresh lemon zest, plus some for dusting over the top
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F/180*C/ gas mark 4.  Butter your loaf tin really well and line the bottom with baking paper.  Set aside.
  2. Rub the lemon zest for the cake into the sugar in a bowl until it is really fragrant.  Add the butter & vanilla. Beat until light and creamy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.  Whisk together the buttermilk and lemon juice.  
  4. Beat the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, alternating wih the buttermilk, until everything is fully combined and all of the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened.  Scrape into the prepared loaf tin.  Bang the tin on the counter a couple times to release any air bubbles.
  5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until well risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs. The top should also spring back when lightly touched.
  6. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the glaze, whisk the icing sugar, cream 1/2 TBS of lemon zest and lemon juice together until smooth and of a drizzling consistency.  Spoon over the cake and then sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon more of  lemon zest.
  8. Cut into slices to serve.
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  1. Sure looks pretty, Marie. To me, lemon flavour is a summer dessert. I'll be sure to make this soon. Must get me some lemons. Happy Friday. Love and hugs, Elaine

    1. I hope you enjoy it Elaine! I am in love with this one myself! Love and hugs, xoxo

  2. As soon as I saw this early today, I thought to myself - I have everything I need at home, so I'll make it straight away. And I did!

    Of course there is no buttermilk here, but I always have kefir in the fridge, so that makes a great substitute. I also went the whole hog by adding the lemon syrup on it as it came out of the oven, as well as the yummy frosting. The hardest part was waiting for it to cool as I wanted to try it straight away. It was a lovely soft, moist cake and the lemon really sang.

    We had it for afternoon tea and I froze the rest in individual slices so I'd not eat it all. But I keep wondering what it tastes like frozen... LOL! As you know, I'm possibly even a bigger fan of lemon than you are and this gets my seal of approval as an excellent cake.

    1. Oh Marie, you really made my day! I love that you were inspired to make it right away and also that you enjoyed the addition of the lemon syrup underglaze! You will have to let me know how it tastes frozen. ;-) haha Thanks so much! xoxo

  3. Thanks very much Becky! I hope you will try it! xoxo

  4. As Oliver Twist would say, "Please sir, may I have some more?"

  5. This was delicious as my family loved it! Thank you!


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