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from "Bistro Cooking" by Patricia Wells

The French have many wonderful lemon recipes, and this is one of my favorites. Not a pound cake, not a bread, not a rich financier cookie, this very lemony, fine-textured cake is just the thing one needs as a 3 o'clock in the afternoon pick-me-up, with a bracing cup of steaming black coffee or tea. It's just as good as a dessert, served with perhaps a compote of apples or pears or slices of fresh pineapple, and tastes even better the second or third day.

Makes 2 loaves
 Bistro Cooking

For the Cake
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Vanilla Sugar (recipe follows)
3/4 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated zest of 4 lemons

Vanilla Sugar
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
2 cups sugar

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Lemon Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9 1/2-inch loaf pans.
2. Combine the flour and baking powder; set aside.
3. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs and sugar and mix until well blended. With the mixer at slow speed, slowly add, in this order: the crème fraîche, the flour and baking powder mixture, the melted butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat until very smooth.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pans. Place the pans in the center of the oven and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
5. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans on the rack. To serve, un-mold and cut the loaves into thin slices. This cake can be stored, carefully covered with plastic wrap, for several days.
Vanilla Sugar
I seem to use up an awful lot of vanilla beans, and once they've been soaked or stewed, I allow them to dry thoroughly, then tuck them inside a big glass jar of sugar. In a very short time, you have a wonderfully fragrant blend for scenting custards, cakes, and tarts.

Scrape out the seeds from the bean pods. Combine the bean pods, seeds, and sugar in a jar. Cover securely and allow to sit for several weeks to scent and flavor the sugar. Use the vanilla sugar in place of regular sugar when baking desserts.

Yield: 2 cups (400 g)

Buy The Ingredients
Product nutrition and information
 Quantity Ingredients Est.Price
  Nature's Yoke Natural Cage-Free Large White Eggs - $3.99/ea
 1 dozen
  Vermont Creamery Crème Fraîche - $4.99/ea
  Lemons - $0.89/ea Save! 5 for $4
  Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans
No vanilla beans available. Consider vanilla extract.
You May Already Have
  Just FreshDirect Unbleached All-Purpose Flour - $4.29/ea
  Davis Double Acting Baking Powder - $3.99/ea
  Domino Granulated White Sugar - $2.79/ea
  Breakstone's All-Natural Unsalted Butter - $3.99/ea
 2ct, 4oz ea
Estimated Total:  
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