This is a famous lemon cake. And it was made so by an even more famous personality, the late Lady Bird Johnson, wife of the 36th US President, Lyndon Johnson, who served from 1963 to 1969. And while Lady Bird Johnson was renowned for her enterpreneurship and business acumen, which extended into the legislative arena in American politics, she was also famed for her prowess in the kitchen, her lemon cake becoming legendary.
So I was intrigued, to say the least, to make this lemon cake – it is after all, famous! But before I get into that, let me share how chance brought me and this famous lemon cake together.
You see, my husband has an uncanny knack for picking out just about all the best books I’ve ever read, whatever the subject matter may be. When we were out walking the mall last week, he chanced upon this small cake book, the only copy of it’s kind left on display. It was looking a little worn for wear, perhaps from having had too many a curious hand flipping through its pages, and it’s cover photo looked outdated, dull, and altogether uninspiring.
Now, if it had been me, I would have, in all certainty, not given it a second look or pause for thought. But for some reason, it stopped him in his tracks, and he picked it up (he told me, later on, that he was just yielding to his usual gut instinct about the book). Glancing through the pages in a matter of seconds, he calls over to me and declares, “You have to get this book, you’ll love it!”.
While I had my doubts, I’ve come to learn to trust my husband’s instincts for sieving out really good material, and that this was probably a worthwhile consideration. And so, promptly, ten minutes later, I had this little book, simply titled “Bundt Cookbook”, produced in 2008 by Nordic Ware (a long established American company that makes the Nordic Ware brand of bundt bakeware pans), in hand, and taking its place in my burgeoning collection of recipe books.
Nordic Ware Bundt Pans: A day after baking this cake, my super duper girlfriend gave me a wonderful surprise! I was gifted with, not one, but two gorgeous Nordic Ware bundt pans! Yayyy!!! If you live in Singapore, you can purchase Nordic Ware bakeware at ToTT stores, and at TANGS Singapore, as far as I know. This is not a sponsored post, so this is just me sharing and passing on the love for beautiful, quality bakeware!
Later that evening, with said book in hand, and finally having the time to browse through its contents in detail, I realised just what a treasure trove of cake recipes this book truly is. I was excited to get started on some of these awe-inspiring recipes, and this is the first from that little book (so, this lemon cake’s for you, dear!).
Having made this famous lemon cake twice since with my girlfriend (the super duper one whom I mentioned above, who’s also my baking buddy), we, meaning me, my girlfriend, and her mother (between themselves, these ladies susbsequently chowed down more than half a dozen slices over a couple of breakfasts and teas) are completely and utterly hooked on this scrumptious lemony cake!
Our verdict – truly and undeniably, one of the best lemon cakes we’ve ever had! In view of how far baking science, methods, and equipment (like today’s many ultra-powerful electric mixers), has advanced through the decades since Lady Bird’s time, it amazes me that this lemon cake has withstood the test of time and convention, remaining a favoured classic. Lady Bird’s lemon cake is unexpectedly light (in spite of 8 egg yolks in there!), moist and tender without being overly crumbly, and refreshingly tangy, with bits of freshly grated lemon zest and citrusy, lemony flavours, to perk up your tastebuds in every bite.
Lady Bird’s lemon cake indeed lives up to its fame and renown, and it’s no wonder that it enjoys wide popularity, with now, yet another new fan (me!) to add to its following. Though I have no way of telling how close this recipe may be to the original one that Lady Bird Johnson used to make her lemon cakes, it is so delicious that I really couldn’t ask for a better recipe! It makes a beautiful cake for when you have guests over, or for a party where an elegant cake (especially when baked in a pretty bundt bake pan) should take centre stage, and be the perfect capper to an excellent meal!
- 3/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 8 egg yolks
- 2 1/2 cups sifted flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Grated zest half a lemon
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- Some confectioner's sugar (optional) for dusting
Pre-heat oven to 160 deg C (325 deg F) with oven rack in the lower one-third of the oven. Lightly grease and flour a 10-cup capacity Bundt pan, or a 9-inch cake pan. Tap out the excess flour.
Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed (speed 3 on a Kitchen Aid mixer) until light and fluffy, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, sift the flour, then measure out 2 1/2 cups, keeping the rest. Then sift together the sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Re-sift three times.
In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with a hand whisk until light and lemon coloured. Blend into creamed butter mixture, using low speed (speed 2 to 3). Add the sifted ingredients in thirds, alternating with milk. Add vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes.
Pour out into the prepared pan, and level the surface evenly around the pan. Tap the pan lightly a few times on the countertop to eliminate air pockets. Bake for 60 minutes,or until a metal or bamboo skewer inserted into the centre of the cake emerges free of sticky batter.
Remove pan from oven and let cake cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack, and allow cake to cool completely. Sprinkle top with confectioner's sugar, if desired. Slice and serve as desired.