Lemon lulu cake, by Mother Myrick’s in Manchester, Vermont, has been the unanimous choice for lemon cake among my family and friends for as long as I can remember. Lemon lulu is the bakery’s signature cake that can be mail-ordered anywhere in the world. I bought this cake more than I’ve bought any other cakes, for birthdays and dinner parties, for a singular reason: it has the most intense lemon flavor that I’m willing to pay good money for. Besides, it is light, moist and divine. We never have enough of it.
Over the years, I’ve tried baking an acceptable version of this cake. The closest I’ve come across is a lemon bundt cake recipe by Matt Lewis published by Food and Wine (F&W) magazine in 2012. It is a classic sort of “quatre-quarts” pound cake, but with less egg, like most bundt cakes. What stands out about F&W recipe is the amount of lemon zest. A third of a cup lightly packed zest from ten lemons, wait there is more, and lemon extract. The over-the-top lemon goodness set this cake apart as the lemoniest cake I’ve ever made in my kitchen. A friend of mine requested this cake for her birthday. No doubt, this is a winning recipe, safely tucked away on my hard drive. Still this is not the lemon lulu cake. Getting closer…
I can’t be more excited about baking what Christina Marsigliese from Scientifically Sweet (SS) proclaimed to be a perfect and the lemoniest loaf she has ever made, in the March challenge for ABC bakers. I followed the recipe with a few changes as well as with great expectation:
• Replaced 50% of all-purpose flour with white whole-wheat pastry flour
• Used 1/3 cup of finely grated zest from 10 Meyer lemons instead of 1 tbsp
• Baked the batter in two small bundt pans for 25 minutes, instead of a 9×5 rectangular pan
• Drizzled lemon syrup (made from equal weight of lemon juice and granulated sugar) on the cakes after 15-minute cooling, for extra lemon flavor
The SS recipe was easy to follow. The foaming technique: aerating the egg and sugar mixture by beating it more than five minutes until almost white, was similar to that used for a sponge cake. It probably helped build the light and flat top of the lemon cake. Other than that, I really can’t tell the difference between this cake and those made using the creaming method (adding sugar and oil together).
What’s most labor intensive? Grating ten lemons intended to intensify the lemon flavor. I was aware of the extra time it’d take since I have gone down that path a few times. How many recipes call for zest from ten lemons? I also knew the results would be worthy of my efforts. Unfortunately, it did not turn out to be the case this time. The lemon flavor came through loudly. Why shouldn’t it, with more than double the amount of lemon zest and an extra dose of lemon syrup? The graininess of the cornmeal was off-putting. I craved creaminess, which was lacking in this cake, to balance the citrus flavor.
Don’t forget to check the lemoniest cakes other creative bakers from ABC have baked for the month of March.
Back to the drawing board, or visit Mother Myrick’s, or bake the F&W lemon bundt cake, for some lemon bliss!