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Glazed Lemon Loaf

This moist lemon cake is satisfying on its own, but is heavenly topped with a mix of blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. Made without butter, and using just a fraction of the oil found in similar recipes, the cake keeps beautifully because it is bathed in tangy lemon syrup. It travels well, too, making it ideal for carrying to picnics and potlucks.

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda  
  • Finely shredded zest of 1 large lemon  
  • Pinch of kosher salt 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup 1-percent-fat milk 
  • 1/4 cup canola oil 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  •   

For the glaze: 

  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 1/2 Tbs.) 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Coat an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest and salt until well mixed. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, canola oil and vanilla until blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, mix until they are just combined, forming a thick, slightly lumpy batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it with the spatula to make it smooth and even on top. The pan will be about half full.

Bake the cake until it is deeply browned with some golden cracks on top and it feels springy to the touch when pressed lightly in the middle, about 40 minutes. For an alternative test, insert a knife into the center: it should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and insert a thin knife vertically into the cake in 8 to 10 uniformly spaced places. (Alternatively, use a bamboo skewer.)

To make the glaze, in a small, heavy nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the mixture is bubbling and frothy on the surface, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately pour evenly over the surface of the hot cake.

Let the glazed cake cool completely in the pan on the rack. Run a thin-bladed knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Carefully invert the cake onto the rack and lift off the pan. Turn upright onto a serving plate, slice thinly and serve. Store the cooled cake tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days. Serves 12.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).