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Fluffy Lemon Pound Cake

   If there's one thing I love doing, it's presenting a much-labored-over baked good to someone I care about.  In this instance, I gave a few slices of this loaf cake to a professor of mine who was a regular at a cafe I worked at for a summer.  When they closed down and I saw him classes, he told me one of the things he missed the most was the lemon pound cake.

  I went home for spring break determined to recreate it, or perhaps make an even better one.  This more than fit the bill.  It's fluffy, so butter-y, and bursting with lemon flavors.  The glaze is a perfect compliment to the not-too-sweet cake, and one piece of this richness is quite ample.

  It was refreshing to find a pound cake that isn't too dense, I like a bit of crumb and fluff.  This is honestly the best recipe I've ever tried.

  I've had plenty of time to sit and reflect now that school's ended and I'm figuring out the next complicated chapter of my life, and I think one of the better memories I took away was the look on my professor's face when I handed him that Ziploc bag.  I caught him glancing at it appreciatively throughout his lecture, and it made me contemplate what exactly I want out of life as I mechanically scribbled down pages of sociology notes.
  This cake was worth the battle with our new gas oven, which likes to over-brown anything and everything I put into it.  I'm figuring it out, just like everything else at the moment.  This cake is a lovely way to kick off summer, and bid farewell to a very arduous school year.

Fluffy Lemon Pound Cake
Yield: one 9x5 inch loaf

Ingredients for the Cake:
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cup sugar
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. vanilla

Ingredients for the Syrup:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 

Ingredients for the Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or a dash of clear vanilla extract, or the scrapings of half a vanilla bean, or none at all if you prefer)
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Place your rack in the middle of the oven.  Lightly grease one 9×5 inch loaf pan with butter, then lightly dust with flour, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla for 3 minutes (on medium-high) or until light and fluffy.  Add sour cream, beat until incorporated.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients, mixing for an additional 45 seconds after all of the dry ingredients have been added. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Place in oven and bake for 1 hour or until the top becomes golden brown in color, and a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon juice to create a syrup.  Once sugar has dissolved allow to gently simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.
After the loaf has cooled in the pan for 20 minutes, turn onto a wire cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.  Using a toothpick or cake tester, poke holes into the top of the cake- lots of them!  Brush the syrup over top (and the sides too) so that it seeps into the cake.  Allow the loaf to cool for another 1½ hours before frosting with glaze.

To prepare the glaze, in small mixing bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla bean paste, and salt.  Spread over the loaf and allow to drip over the edges and sides. Allow to sit for 20 minutes to harden before serving.

Sources: adapted from Life Made Simple, who adapted from Best Summer Deserts