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story.lead_photo.caption Lemon Buttermilk Cake with whipped cream and blackberries (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

After last week's kitchen troubles of a leaky freezer, this week my oven went kaput.

As I worried about how I was going to continue to do my job while scraping together the money to buy a new one (we're also saving for a new washing machine and tires for our car while trying not to dip into the money we had saved for our anniversary trip to Hawaii that was postponed by coronavirus), my husband — the much calmer and mechanically inclined one in our relationship — figured out what was wrong with it, bought the part and fixed it.

He fixed it! For less than what we would have paid for a service call by a repair shop.

So naturally, to show my appreciation and to christen the new part, I had to bake a cake.

I had not planned for this week's section to be so sweet — but here I am.

The mixing method for this cake goes against most recipes — the butter and sugar are not creamed, then followed by the eggs. Instead, all of the dry ingredients are mixed, then the butter is worked in, and then the eggs and buttermilk. Speaking of buttermilk, I do not recommend using regular milk soured with vinegar or lemon juice here. Buttermilk's tangy flavor is what makes this cake stand out from other lemon cakes.

The resulting cake, brushed with a lemon glaze while still warm, is moist and tender. It is delicious as is, but a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh, local blackberries really make it shine.

A stand mixer isn't needed for this recipe, but I do recommend using an electric mixer. The batter is quite thick, and you'd need a very sturdy whisk and even sturdier arm to mix it by hand.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

Finely grated zest of 1 to 3 lemons (I used a Microplane rasp-style grater)

10 tablespoons butter, at cool room temperature (65 to 72 degrees)

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 ¼ cups regular or Bulgarian buttermilk, at room temperature


¼ cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For serving:

Fresh blackberries and/or blueberries

Whipped cream

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder.

Add the butter and zest to the sugar-flour mixture and mix on medium speed with an electric mixer, until the mixture is uniform in texture. It should look a little sandy or like coarse meal. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. With the mixer on low, gradually add the buttermilk, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Once all of the buttermilk is added, mix on medium-high speed for 20 to 30 seconds. The batter may appear slightly curdled; that's OK.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, using a rubber spatula to smooth the top.

Bake for 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. The cake should be light golden with darker edges that are pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Cool cake in pan on a metal rack for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup: Combine the lemon juice and sugar in small bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Brush the syrup all over the lukewarm cake. Let it soak in, then continue brushing and letting it soak in, until all of the syrup is used.

Serve cake topped with berries and whipped cream, if desired.

Leftover cake will keep, covered, at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap well and freeze.

Makes 1 (9-by-13-inch) cake.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Co.


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