In remembrance of our dear Doris, it seems only appropriate to post this bright, sunshine-y lemon cake recipe.
To me, Doris Day is happiness and all that is good in the world. If there was a dessert that could channel the aura of Doris, it would have to be something equally bright and sunny, preferably yellow.
This radiant, happy lemon cake fits the bill! If Doris’ passing hit you as hard today as it did me, hopefully making this cake will help lift your spirits.
It took me several tries to get this cake as lemon-y as I wanted it to be! In the end, it was a combination of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract that did the trick. Here is my favorite lemon extract on Amazon [aff. link]. I think it imparts such a fresh, natural lemon taste, and really enhances the flavor of the lemon juice and zest. If you want a cake that has just a hint of lemon, feel free to omit the lemon extract—you will still end up with a delicious cake! But if you are like me, and prefer your lemon desserts to be filled with that puckery- sweet lemon taste, don’t skimp on the lemon extract!
One of the many things I love about this cake is the lemon-sugar mixture on the bottom! This simple, textured mixture of turbinado sugar and lemon zest gives the cake such a nice bite. The smooth, creamy cake combined with the crunch of the turbinado mixture on the bottom is truly a delight! You can find turbinado sugar in a box or in small packets in the baking section of your grocery store.
Also, I prefer this cake with the lemon icing, but my husband isn’t a frosting or an icing person, and prefers it without icing. It is a fantastic cake both ways, so prepare it however you prefer, iced or not.
I highly recommend using an offset spatula to ice the cake. It just makes icing such an easy job! This inexpensive tool is so helpful when icing or frosting desserts, as well as for spreading condiments on sandwiches, sauces or layers in casseroles, etc. The uses are literally endless. Here is my favorite on Amazon [aff. link].
So here’s to Doris! Enjoy my Doris Day Sunshine Lemon Cake while you watch a happy film of hers, perhaps one of my favorites, such as The Glass Bottom Boat [aff. link] or That Touch of Mink [aff. link].
Thanks for everything Doris, I love you!
Doris Day Sunshine Lemon Cake
For the wet ingredients:
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tsp lemon extract
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup milk, I use almond milk, but any milk will do
- 1 cup heavy cream
For the dry ingredients:
- 2 cups flour
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
For the lemon-sugar mixture:
- ¼ cup turbinado sugar
- 2 tsp lemon zest
For the icing:
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- 3 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- 1-2 Tbsp milk, I use almond milk, but any milk will do
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
Make the lemon-sugar mixture
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Spray the bottom of a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, use a fork or your fingers to mix together the turbinado sugar and 2 tsp lemon zest.
- Once it is mixed together, evenly sprinkle the mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just do your best!
Cream the ingredients
- With a stand or hand-held mixer, cream together the butter, lemon zest, and sugar until light and fluffy. Now add the eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon extract. Beat for 2 minutes, until the mixture turns light yellow and soft peaks begin to form.
- With the mixer still running, add in the olive oil, followed by the lemon juice. Beat until the mixture gets very smooth and glossy, about another 2 minutes.
Add the dry ingredients, milk, and heavy cream
- Now add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix, and just as the dry ingredients start to incorporate, slowly pour in the milk, followed by the cream. Mix until just incorporated. Be careful not to over mix!
Bake the cake
- Pour the batter evenly into the baking dish, taking care not to disturb the lemon-sugar mixture on the bottom of the dish. Use an offset spatula to help even the batter out.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes before icing.
Make the icing
- While the cake cools, make the icing. Start by mixing the melted butter, extracts, zest, and powdered sugar together.
- Add a Tbsp of milk, mix, and if the icing is still a little dry, add an additional Tbsp of milk. You want a thick but still pourable consistency, so you may need to use more or less milk.
Ice, slice, serve, and think of Doris!
- After the cake has cooled for 30 minutes, it's time to ice the cake. (The cake will still be slightly warm, and that is what you want!)
- Ice the cake with an offset spatula to make the job easy. Let the icing set for 15 minutes before slicing the cake.
- Slice, serve, and think of Doris! ❤️