But a word of caution: the recipe is condemned to chorus-girl status forever. It just is not a showstopper. It’s not the one you drag out to impress the new in-laws, or serve up at the end of a romantic first cooking date. This is not the cake that will impel all your holiday guests to undo the top button of their pants just so they can squeeze in one more bite.
Don’t get me wrong – the cake is pleasant enough, but I couldn’t help feeling that underneath it’s tight crumb and burnt-sugar crust, there was something missing. Then it hit me. This cake is suffering from an identity crisis: Is it a pound cake or is it a lemon cake? In my humble opinion, it comes close, but misses the mark on both counts.
First of all, the recipe was offered up by contributing baker Norman Love. You may know him as the founder of Norman Love Confections, one of the top 10 artisan chocolate companies in the country. Or from his many years as executive pastry chef at the Ritz Carlton. He’s a chocolatier. And he’s giving us a lemon cake? What is with that? If you’re gonna represent, ya gotta give what ya know. Ya know? I’m sure he’s made a few citrus-based desserts in his long career, but it still feels like a bait-and-switch. Give us the big name chocolate guy, and then give us his recipe for a lemon cake? Come on. Throw me a cocoa bean here.
No wonder most folks at TWD thought it wasn’t lemony enough. Thankfully, I had read their generous comments prior to baking my own version, so I added the juice of one lemon to the heavy dose of zest already called for, then topped it with a lemon curd whipped cream to nudge it into the same ballpark with lemon cake.
As for the pound cake issue, this recipe called for a mere 5 ½ tablespoons of butter. Last time I checked, even a half-recipe of reduced-fat, standard pound cake would call for at least 8 Tablespoons of the stuff. A little butter goes a long way. If I make this again I will bump up the fat content as well.
In the meantime, I’ve wrapped up what’s left of our cake and stuffed it into the freezer. The next time we need a little mid-week pick me up, it’ll be there, just waiting for a nip in the toaster, a slather of butter, and some nice lemon preserves.