Zoe Bakes Cake Zoe Bakes Cake by Zoe Francois

Makes one 9-inch / 23cm loaf

Every bite of this bright and dreamy cake has all the enthusiasm of a spring morning. There are layers of tartness from the luxurious lemon curd, lemon zest, and pieces of baked lemon that nestle perfectly into the buttery rich batter. A light and easy drizzle of lemon syrup, made from baked lemon slices, makes a simple bite feel like the warm, sunny promise of a new day.

2 lemons, sliced 1/8 inch / 3mm thick, plus zest of

2 lemons

Scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean

1 cup / 240ml Simple Syrup

3/4 cup / 165g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups / 300g granulated sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon extract

2 eggs, at room temperature

4 egg yolks, at room temperature

2 cups plus 2 Tbsp / 240g cake flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

3/4 cup / 180g sour cream, at room temperature

1/2 cup / 140g Lemon Curd

Preheat the oven to 325°F / 165°C. Generously grease a 9 by 4-inch / 23 by 10cm Pullman pan (or a 10 by 5-inch / 25 by 13cm loaf pan), then line it with greased parchment paper. Set aside.

Put the lemon slices and vanilla seeds in the bottom of a 9-inch / 23cm baking dish, pour the simple syrup over the top, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake until the lemons are very soft, 40 to 45 min­utes. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute.

Turn the mixer speed to low; add the sugar, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest to the butter; and mix until incorporated. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl often for even incorporation.

Turn the speed to medium-low and add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating just until combined. Scrape the bowl after each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift to remove any lumps.

Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed, just until com­bined. Add half of the sour cream, mixing until incorporated. Repeat with another one-third flour, then the remaining sour cream, and finish with the final one-third flour, scraping the bowl and paddle after each addition.

Fold the lemon curd into the batter. It’s okay if there are a few streaks of curd left throughout the batter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top and tap the pan on the counter several times to release excess air bubbles. Lay five baked lemon slices over the top of the batter. Set the pan on a baking sheet.

Bake just until the top sets, about 45 minutes; the sliced lemons will have slipped beneath the surface. Lay another four lemon slices over the top and con­tinue to bake until a tester comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes more. As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, drizzle with 2 Tbsp of the lemon syrup from the baked lemons.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and set on a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Reprinted from Zoe Bakes Cakes. Copyright © 2021 by Zoë François. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House.