½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups granulated white sugar, DIVIDED
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon dried lemon peel
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, DIVIDED
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon good pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease and flour 2 (8 ½ by 4 ¼ by 2 ½ inch loaf pans. I line mine with parchment paper, makes it easier to lift the loaves right out. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon peel. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, set aside. In another bowl, combine ¼ cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Combine ½ cup granulated sugar with ½ cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves, don’t boil. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes; using a toothpick, poke 50 to 60 little holes in the cake; spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely. (At this time, you can wrap the cakes (or one of the cakes) in parchment paper, then in heavy duty foil and freeze for another time, if you like. Just thaw before drizzling the glaze and serving).
For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides. I like to serve this with fresh strawberries or fresh blueberries!