Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lemon-Crème Fraîche Cake

My favorite cake is this Lemon-Crème Fraîche Cake. (Well, to be completely honest, my favorite cake is whatever cake I happen to be eating at the moment, but never mind that.) This particular Lemon-Crème Fraîche Cake is perfection. It’s light as a feather and fluffy as a cloud. It’s incredibly moist and incredibly tender and not too sweet. And it really tastes like the name promises—the flavors of lemon and crème fraîche shine through. It fulfills all of my cake fantasies in every way.

This perfect Lemon-Crème Fraîche Cake originally came from the Pearl Bakery in Portland. I first encountered it there years ago. I remember how, as I was checking out the beautiful array of goodies behind the counter, the plain-looking cake caught my eye. It was already missing a slice so I could see the crumb. I ordered it on the spot. With no hesitation. Now, I’m not usually a decisive person when it comes to ordering in a bakery. I take my time considering the selection of pastries, I debate croissant versus Danish, and I pay no attention to the line forming behind me. But on that one day I knew exactly what I wanted—this cake was calling, no, screaming my name.

I was so smitten with the Lemon-Crème Fraîche Cake that I had to ask the bakery’s pastry chef at the time for the recipe. She graciously shared it, though the directions were a bit sketchy. I’m so thankful that she did because I haven’t seen my favorite cake at the bakery in a long time. Whether they’re all sold out by the time I get there or whether they’ve completely lost their minds and discontinued it, who knows? And with the recipe, who cares?

Lemon-Crème Fraîche Cake
Printable Recipe

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
10 ounces cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
Grated zest of 1 lemon
5 large eggs, at room temperature
11 ounces sugar
¾ cup crème fraîche, at room temperature
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9×3-inch round cake pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir the lemon zest into the flour mixture.

In a mixer fitted with a whip attachment, mix the eggs and sugar on high for 4 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy and doubled in volume. Add the crème fraîche and mix on low until just combined. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the butter, then 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the lemon juice, and then the remaining 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing on low for only a few seconds after each addition until just combined, and stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Do not overmix. Transfer to the cake pan and spread evenly. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the edges of the cake start to shrink away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and finish cooling completely. Dust with plenty of powdered sugar, cut into portions, and serve.

Makes 1 9-inch cake, serving 8. This cake is best the day it’s made. Definitely try the recipe with Meyer lemons when they’re in season. And if you don’t have crème fraîche, you can substitute sour cream.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a delightful cake! Really delicious looking!



The Food Librarian said...

Oh yum! This looks delightful. I love making tea cakes and I just love lemon.

Leslie said...

This cake looks divine!

Heavenly Housewife said...

That looks so good. Im going to bookmark this page and make that cake for myself... one of these days :D

truckerchef said...

this cake is awsome just made it and wow is it good highly recommended to everyone

smallkitchenbigideas said...

This looks delicious!

Zeitgeist said...

That is one good looking slice of cake you have! The top looks incredibly perfect to pair with the cake softness! I bet this tastes heavenly!

Thanks for sharing!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Lemon is one of my favorite colors and flavor of Spring. I have been looking for a cake (without gooey frosting) to make. This recipe looks simple, but I can already taste it. Thanks for sharing!

chocolatecup said...


kellypea said...

This cake sounds absolutely fabulous and refreshingly uncomplicated. Thanks for sharing it!

natesgirl said...

looks delicious!

tara said...

I made it. It was kind of dense? and not too sweet. I like cakes that aren't too dense. Tastes good with whipped cream and tea though. I like that it's not too sweet. Thank you for sharing.

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

This cake should be fluffy and light as a feather. The key to making a cake like this is to incorporate as much air as possible into the eggs and then mix in the dry ingredients without deflating the batter. Underwhipping the eggs and overmixing once the dry ingredients are added will result in a cake that’s too dense.

Tara said...

Thanks for the tip. I will try again. :)

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