Ina’s Lemon Cake

Ina's Lemon Cake

I make no secret of the fact that I am one of Ina Garten’s biggest fans.  I have all her cookbooks in my library and am confident that every recipe they contain is wonderful.  Oddly enough, this recipe for LEMON CAKE is one I have never tried.  We love lemon desserts, and I have made many, but this recipe  somehow slipped through the cracks.  I have seen her make this on her Food Channel show, and a replay of it last week, along with the huge bag of lemons that I bought at Costco, were the push I needed.

Ina's Lemon Cake

What first caught my attention about this recipe is the amount of lemon that is added.  Lots of juice and grated rind in the batter, a sweet-tart glaze that is poured over the warm cake, and finally a simple lemon frosting that covers it all. Just thinking about it makes those little glands at the back of my jaw start acting up.  This isn’t a good recipe for me to bake because I simply can’t leave it alone.  Delicious for breakfast with a cup of coffee…hey, it’s fruit isn’t it?…lovely for an afternoon tea break…and downright satisfying at night when I need just a bite of something sweet.

Ina's Lemon Cake

The recipe makes 2 nice loaves and, if wrapped well, will keep for a week.  The lemon-sugar glaze keeps it moist. The next time I make this cake I will use a bundt pan to fancy it up a bit.  I’m sure it would work as cupcakes too.    I’m making myself a note to double the sugar/lemon juice glaze that is poured onto the warm cake before it is frosted.  I love the lemon flavor this adds to the cake and, in my opinion, it can use more than what is called for in the recipe.  Even a little limoncello would be a tasty addition.  Don’t have any?…here is an easy recipe from Giada De Laurentiis that you might like to try. It’s a delicious flavoring in many dishes and lemons are so good right now.   

5.0 from 3 reviews
Ina's Lemon Cake
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2½ cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8½ by 4¼ by 2½-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.
  2. 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.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine ¼ 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.
  4. Combine ½ cup granulated sugar with ½ 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.
  5. 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.
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  1. Karen Harris says

    I love Ina too. I can just see her wrapping up pieces of this for a picnic on the beach with her friends. I can’t wait to try it.
    Karen Harris recently posted..Omni Hotels’ Simply Street Food: Duck Empanadas with Smoked Tomato MayoMy Profile

  2. Foodiewife says

    This is one of my earliest blog posts. I’m with you on Ina (and King Arthur Flour). This recipe is a winner, and now you reminded me that it’s time to make it again. You did Ina proud. Aloha!
    Foodiewife recently posted..Easy Broiled Lobster!My Profile

  3. Bonnie says

    I’m an Ina sort of girl too! And, it took me awhile, but I like Giada as well. Haven’t been able to connect with Ree Drummond!! I have made this cake so can taste it right now. I have one lemon and it’s too snowy to get out. Guess I’ll use it on tonight’s salmon.

    Bonnie recently posted..Chicken and Mushroom Miso SoupMy Profile

  4. Happier Than A Pig in Mud says

    Wow your cakes look beautiful Cathy! That is a hearty amount of lemon, it’s one of my favorite flavors-enjoy:@)

  5. Kirsten@ My Kitchen in the Rockies says

    Thanks for the reminder Cathy. I have baked this cake before, too, but totally forgot it again. Ina’s recipes are all fabulous! I remember having to adjust this recipe for my altitude, since it sank in the middle. Great tasting lemon treat.
    Kirsten@ My Kitchen in the Rockies recently posted..German Beef Goulash & Winner of the Cookbook Tasting ColoradoMy Profile

  6. bellini says

    You and Mary are on the same page today with luscious lemon cakes. Lemon is my chocolate so I am in.
    bellini recently posted..Potato and Zucchini Latke Waffles for Slow SundaysMy Profile

  7. Lynn says

    Cathy, I love lemon too and here in cold Alberta it tastes like spring to me! I’m going to make this today makes my mouth water just looking at the pictures:)

  8. Virtually Homemade - Liz says

    So lovely. I love Ina – you can’t go wrong!
    Virtually Homemade – Liz recently posted..Cinnamon Sugar Toast Latte and Starbucks Secret MenuMy Profile

  9. Monique says

    We just made the same thing but different:)
    I have made Ina’s ..very very good..What’s NOT to like?:)
    Monique recently posted..Creativity~My Profile

  10. Arlene says

    This is, in my opinion, the quintessential lemon cake. Ina also makes a very tasty orange cake.
    Arlene recently posted..Brickle BrowniesMy Profile

  11. Kathleen says

    I use her recipe too, it is delicious! Your picture is fabulous. I will have to go back and look at my post and cry that my pic isn’t as good, lol!
    Cathy, is something different? I had to fill in the whole box of info before I could leave a comment. I don’t remember having to do that before?

    • says

      Hi Kathleen – Oh dear. No, I haven’t done anything any different. You shouldn’t have to fill anything out. With my computer it’s always something. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll try to check it out.
      Cathy recently posted..Ina’s Lemon CakeMy Profile

  12. Marilyn says

    Oh how I love anything lemon and this cake looks like it would hit the spot. My mouth is watering now for lemon cake.
    Marilyn recently posted..Kindly Tea PlantMy Profile

  13. Betty @ scrambled henfruit says

    Beautiful! I love Ina’s recipes, and I love lemon too. Perfect combination. :)
    Betty @ scrambled henfruit recently posted..Spicy Curried Butternut Red Lentil SoupMy Profile

  14. Jamie says

    Well, when I tell you that I pinned this onto my Lemon Everything pinterest board you’ll understand that I am a huge fan of everything lemon! I love a good lemon cake and this one is calling my name! Lots of lemon? Lemon glaze? Yes, please! Beautiful!
    Jamie recently posted..ChairsMy Profile

  15. Jeannie says

    It does indeed looks lovely with it’s fine crumbs, a great cake with a cup of tea or coffee…a great pick me up from a sleep afternoon at work:D
    Jeannie recently posted..Fruit & Nut FlabjacksMy Profile

  16. Angie@Angie's Recipes says

    My mouth waters terribly reading ‘lemon’…the cake has such a fine and smooth texture.
    Angie@Angie’s Recipes recently posted..Green Bean Spelt Cake with Hazelnuts and White WineMy Profile

  17. teresa says

    gorgeous gorgeous!! i love anything baked with lemon. this looks like the perfect thing, delicious!
    teresa recently posted..Salsa Verde Chicken and DumplingsMy Profile

  18. ciaochowlinda says

    This looks perfect as is and I don’t think it needs the fancier treatment of a bundt pan. I have made lemon cakes similar to this and I agree they could benefit from a little more lemon flavor from lemon peel or limoncello. But in general, all of Ina’s recipes are delicious.
    ciaochowlinda recently posted..Avocado-Beet-Blood Orange SaladMy Profile

  19. Ramona says

    OMG, I want some of that now that I can taste again.

    Catching up, was out last week again…..need to stay well for a while.

  20. Biz says

    OMG, that looks insulin worthy for sure! Next time I need to bring a dessert somewhere, I am making this!
    Biz recently posted..Sunday DinnerMy Profile

  21. Jacqueline says

    I have heard the same from others, that they have never disliked one of her recipes. Lemon cake, lemon bread, lemon bars, ….. next best thing to chocolate – even better when paired with chocolate. This looks fantastic.
    Jacqueline recently posted..Rolodoodle Pizzookies with Dulce de Leche Caramel SauceMy Profile

  22. Karen (Back Road Journal) says

    I know how good this cake is as a friend makes it when I visit her…she know how much I love lemon desserts.
    Karen (Back Road Journal) recently posted..A Secret No More…The Pillars HotelMy Profile

  23. The Café Sucré Farine says

    We’re just like two peas in a pod Cathy, I’m posting a citrus cake today as well. You’re right about Ina, you can’t go wrong. Your version looks fabulous, love your photos I so want to reach into the screen and grab, I mean gently take that first slice! :)
    The Café Sucré Farine recently posted..Portuguese Clementine-Olive Oil Cake w/ Marmalade DrizzleMy Profile

  24. Rettabug says

    Oh my…you KNOW I’m going to have to try making this one, Cathy! I adore anything lemon!!
    Remember the poke cakes from long ago? I wonder if it would work to get some of that luscious glaze down into the center of the cake, like that? I may try it, so as not to waste a single drop. I shall purchase a bag of lemons tomorrow so I can make this very soon.
    Thank you so much for sharing! I’m pinning!!
    Rettabug recently posted..Marty’s Winter Cloche Party!My Profile

  25. Sue/the view from great island says

    I missed this, Kathy, and I agree, this is the best lemon cake ever. I adapted her recipe on my blog for grapefruit, I think, no blood orange, and I was blown away by the texture of the cake. The classic lemon is next on my list. Life doesn’t get any better than a good, no great, lemon cake!!
    Sue/the view from great island recently posted..DIY Tagalong Girl Scout Cookies: when you’ve been too good for your own goodMy Profile

  26. Susan says

    If it’s not chocolate it has to be lemon for my dessert :) I know I would love all the lemony goodness of Ina’s lemon cake!
    Susan recently posted..Easy Chocolatey Bundt CakeMy Profile

  27. Kitty says

    Oh Cathy, I love Ina’s recipes, too. I looked at the amount of zest in the recipe… That’s a lot!! I’ll bet every bite was lemony lusciousness.
    Kitty recently posted..Scallops ProvençalMy Profile

  28. Liz says

    Why have I not made this yet???? LOVE the dripping glaze…totally irresistible!!!
    Liz recently posted..Lemon Squares…#SecretRecipeClubMy Profile

  29. Rebekah @ Making Miracles says

    That is so GORGEOUS!! I love Ina too – I have a couple of her cookbook’s – although I haven’t really been brave enough to crack them open and get them dirty… mostly I just browse and drool… :D This looks amazing and I love anything lemon, thanks for sharing! :)
    Rebekah @ Making Miracles recently posted..Easy Egg Salad for SandwichesMy Profile

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