Maida Heater has a recipe called East 62nd Street Lemon Cake that always makes me think of my maternal grandparents. Not the lemon part, actually, but the East 62nd street bit.
For a short time in the early 1960’s, they lived in an apartment in Manhattan near Bloomingdales. Burt Bacharach and his then wife, Angie Dickinson, were just two of their many neighbors and, as the story goes, my grandfather would ride the elevator up and down, up and down, in hopes of stealing just a minute with Ms. Dickinson and inviting her and Burt over.
Had my grandmother been a baker of any sort, I like to imagine that Maida’s lemon cake would have been the kind she’d have made were Burt and Angie to have stopped by for cake and cocktails (this was the 60’s after all). Alas, I’m pretty sure they never even formally met.
This past weekend, while browsing my baking books for inspiration to fill my always-on-what-kind-of-winter-is-this-?!-oven, I came across Maida’s lemon cake recipe once again and found myself humming, What the World Needs Now, is Sun, Sweet Sun…
Adapted from Maida Heater’s East 62nd Street Lemon Cake
3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (4 g) salt
2 sticks (8 oz., 226 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400 g) sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) sour cream
Zest of two large lemons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 10-cup bundt pan by buttering well or spraying with Pam or Baker’s Joy.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, rub the lemon zest into the sugar to release the oils. Add the softened butter and mix at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing well after each addition. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream (begin and end with the dry). Mix gently until all is incorporated, then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes until a toothpick or thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan.
While the cake is resting in the pan, juice the two zested lemons and whisk in confectioners sugar to taste. I prefer tart so usually stop at a few tbsp. sugar.
Invert the cake onto a rack, poke tiny holes all over, and drizzle with the sugary lemon juice. Let the cake cool completely before slicing and serving.
For an added bit of sunshine, sprinkle yellow-gold sanding sugar on top just after the glaze.