You know how there are those recipes that you make once and you think, “This is good, but I’ll probably never make it again…”? For whatever reason–it was too much work, it was good but not that good, it was a layer cake and your name is Kate and almost every time you make a layer cake, it looks ugly…you know…all those reasons.

And then there are other things that you make and you just know it will become a go-to recipe in your house.

This cake is one of those go-to recipes for me. It was easy. It was so unbelievably delicious. It was not a layer cake and therefore pretty close to fail-proof when it comes to me and baking cakes.

I recently picked up America’s Test Kitchen’s Best Summer Desserts at Sam’s Club and I seriously sat around one morning ogling every recipe, totally beside myself about what I should make because everything looked amazing. And I’ll be honest and say that really hardly ever happens to me–I’ll get a food magazine and mark 2 or 3 recipes in the whole thing that I might get around to making someday and ultimately forget about them. But not this time. I was fantasizing about icebox cheesecakes and ice cream freezer-less ice creams and Snickers Icebox Pie. Try getting THAT out of your head.

Ultimately  I decided on the Lemon Buttermilk Sheet Cake because I had leftover buttermilk. I also had about 3 bags of lemons because I would need them for a recipe, think I had them, wouldn’t be able to find them, would buy another bag, find the first bag, yada yada yada. Not the most romantic tale of how I chose which recipe to make, but definitely the most practical one.

You’ll need cake flour (no, there are no substitutions. Not in this cake. I haven’t tried it with another flour, but I know in my soul that things would go wrong if you didn’t use cake flour and then you’d leave a mean comment or email me mean things and I would say, “I informed you thusly.”), baking powder, baking soda, table salt, buttermilk, lemons and lemon zest, white sugar, butter, and 3 eggs plus an egg yolk.

Make sure the oven rack is in the middle position (unless you’ve found that another position works better in your oven for baking) and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13″ baking dish and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a measuring cup, combine buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the white sugar and lemon zest

on medium speed until moist and fragrant (about 1 minute). Remove 1/4 cup of the sugar mixture and place it in a small bowl. Cover and set aside.

Add the softened butter to the remaining sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, until incorporated. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 additions. Mix until smooth (about 30 seconds)

Scrape the batter into the reserved baking pan and smooth out the top.

Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 25-35 minutes). Be careful not to over bake. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, combine the glaze ingredients in a small mixing bowl

and whisk until smooth.


Gently spread the glaze over the cake and sprinkle evenly with the reserved sugar mixture.

Allow to cool completely, at least 2 hours. Serve. Cover any leftover with foil and eat within 2-3 days.



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