It’s gotten to the point where I’m able to sit and type this out with both windows in my living room open, looking out onto the little courtyard outside our apartment, that now offers plenty of green trees and birds making their little bird-sounds. Soon the apartment will turn back on the mini waterfall-and-river water feature out there too, a little stream that winds its way around a little bridge and stops at the waterfall near the outdoor grills. It’s one of my favorite things about this apartment, and it really is best in spring and summer, which are finally showing their faces around here. It is my favorite thing when the weather picks up and makes the world feel livable again (can you tell I’m from the hot desert?).
This lemon cake with raspberry amaretto sauce completely feels like spring & summer to me. They’d be great any time, but there is lots of fresh lemon zest throughout the cake and sweet and tart raspberries poured onto the top, and it ends up being refreshing and still decadent. Ina Garten can do no wrong with her cake recipes.
I made these in mini-loaf pans, and the recipe made 3 of them. It’s originally written for two big loaf pans, but I halved the recipe since I’m not feeding a crowd. I imagine these would be great as cupcakes as well, which might require a shorter baking time (the toothpick test will always work).
And the raspberry amaretto sauce is so good, good enough that it gave me an excuse to buy amaretto in the first place – and now cause me to search for more amaretto recipes, since I have a whole bottle of it lying around. The amaretto gives the raspberry sauce more depth and almondy sweetness to curb the zingy tartness of the raspberries. The cakes have a perfect crumb and super soft texture, and are overall one of my favorite cakes I’ve made.
- 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest (3 to 4 large lemons)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
- 6 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 pints raspberries (about 3 3/4 cups)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons Amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pan (or 3 mini loaf pans like I did). You may also line the bottom with parchment paper if desired.
- Cream together butter and 1 cup of granulated sugar with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy (should take 3-5 minutes). On medium speed add in the eggs one at a time, and then add the lemon zest.
- In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the buttermilk, and the vanilla. Then add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternating to the batter (first add a little bit of the flour, then a little of the buttermilk, breaking up into 2 or 3 additions). Mix together the batter so that everything is combined, but do not overmix.
- Add batter to the load pan or divide evenly between the mini loaf pans if using. Smooth out the tops so that it is relatively flat on top. Then bake for about 30 minutes (for mini loaves) or 45 mins (for 1 big loaf pan). Check that a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, and when it does, the cake is done.
- While the cakes bake, combine 1/4 cup of granulated sugar with 1/4 cup of lemon juice in a saucepan over low heat, and cook until the sugar dissolves completely. Turn off the heat. When the cakes are done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove them from the pans and brush the cakes with the lemon syrup. Allow them to cool completely.
- In a food processor, purée raspberries, sugar and Amaretto. Strain them through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. (If using frozen raspberries, allow them to defrost completely before making the sauce.) The raspberry sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead if needed, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of sauce.