East 62nd Street Lemon Cake 10.000

(Justin Tsucalas for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Jun 14, 2019

This simple cake boasts a double hit of lemon. The batter is flecked with lemon zest, so it enhances the flavor as it bakes; the resulting cake is then drenched with a syrup that is as sweet or as tart as you prefer. The cake was created by and named for Maida Heatter's daughter, Toni Evins, who lived on that street in Manhattan.

We used a 10-inch tube pan in testing, but this bakes up nicely in a 9-inch Bundt pan as well (with a 12-cup capacity). Heatter noted that 1/2 cup fresh lime juice could be used instead of lemon for the glaze, but you'd still want to use lemon zest in the cake batter.

Be sure to glaze the cake while it is warm, or you can omit the glaze and dust the cooled cake with confectioners' sugar instead (but that will reduce its lemony goodness). In testing, we also held back a little of the glaze and drizzled it on, just before serving.

Make Ahead: The cake can be covered and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Servings: 10 - 12
  • For the cake
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • Plain dried fine bread crumbs, for the pan
  • 3 cups (360 grams) flour
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
  • 2 cups (396 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • For the glaze
  • Finely grated zest from 1 large lemon (1 tablespoon; optional) and juice from 2 large lemons (about 1/3 cup; see headnote)
  • 1 cup (198 grams) confectioners' sugar, preferably sifted


For the cake: Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Use some butter to grease the inside of your 10-inch tube pan or Bundt pan, then dust it with dried bread crumbs, shaking out any excess.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper or a flexible cutting board.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer on medium-low speed, until creamy. Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium speed for several minutes, until lightened and well incorporated. Stop to scrape down the bowl. On medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating to blend well after each addition. (The mixture might look curdled at this point; that's okay.) Add the vanilla extract.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions, and beating only until incorporated after each addition.

Stir in the lemon zest by hand.

Transfer the batter to the pan, turning it as you go to spread the batter evenly. (A small offset spatula's handy for leveling the surface.) Bake (lower rack) for 65 to 70 minutes, checking at 60 minutes by inserting a cake tester away from the pan walls. When the cake is done, the tester should be free of crumbs. The cake should be nicely browned and have pulled away a bit from the edges.

Transfer the cake in its pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Use a round-edge knife to loosen it from the tube pan's outer walls. Lift using the pan's center column while you place a rimmed baking sheet under the rack. Return the cake, still on the base of the tube pan, to the wire rack to cool for a bit while you make the glaze.

(If you are using a Bundt pan, place the rack on top of the pan, then invert the cake, returning rack with upside down cake and pan to the counter.)

For the glaze: Combine the lemon juice, zest, if using, and the confectioners's sugar in small saucepan, over medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is heated through. The glaze should be shiny.

Remove the cake from its tube pan base; invert it or keep it top side up, placing it directly on the rack. Use all of the warm glaze to brush the top, sides and interior walls of the still-warm cake; it might work best to do it in two rounds, letting the first glaze absorb for a few minutes before using the rest.

Let the cake sit for at least an hour before serving.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Happiness Is Baking -- Cakes, Pies, Tarts, Muffins, Brownies, Cookies: Favorite Desserts From the Queen of Cake," by Maida Heatter (Little Brown and Co., 2019). CORRECTION: An earlier version of this recipe gave the incorrect amounts of granulated sugar and confectioners' sugar in grams. They are 396 grams (2 cups) and 198 grams (1 cup), respectively.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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