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Maida Heatter’s ‘The Best Damn Lemon Cake’ is just that

Makes 1 medium loaf

“I remember when my husband, Ralph, took the first bite of this,” writes Maida Heatter in “Happiness is Baking.” “The name stuck like frosting on a cake.”


Butter (for the pan)
Fine, dry breadcrumbs (for the pan)
½cup skinned whole almonds
cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1teaspoon baking powder
¾teaspoon salt
1stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, cut up
1cup sugar
½cup milk
2tablespoons lemon extract
Finely grated rind of 3 medium lemons

1. Adjust a rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter an 8½-by-4½-by-2¼-inch loaf pan (6-cup capacity). Dust it with fine, dry breadcrumbs, tapping out the excess.

2. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until very finely ground.

3. In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat to mix. On low speed, add the eggs, one at a time. Still on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the milk in two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the lemon extract.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Stir in the lemon rind and almonds. The batter will be thin. Pour into the pan.


6. Bake the cake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake, all the way to the bottom, comes out just barely clean. During baking, the cake will form a large crack or two on top; the cracks will remain light in color.

7. Remove the cake from the oven and glaze within 2 to 3 minutes.


cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
cup lemon juice

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar and lemon juice only until the sugar dissolves; do not boil.

2. With a brush, brush the hot glaze over the hot cake. Do not apply quickly; it should take 5 minutes to apply it all.

3. Let the cake stand until tepid, not completely cool. Gently invert the cake onto a rack. Turn it right side up. Cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil and let stand for 12 to 24 hours before serving. Or place in the freezer for about 2 hours, or in the refrigerator for about 4 hours before serving. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from “Happiness is Baking”


Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.