Lemon tea cake

adapted from gourmet.com

I’ve been making this tea bread for a few years now, because the first time I sent a loaf each to my grandmother and my uncle I got such rave reviews I just couldn’t make it a one-time thing. This has become the traditional sweet I send to them every year at the holidays.

2 large lemons
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour two 9- x 5- x 3-inch metal loaf pans, knocking out any excess flour (or four mini loaf pans).

2. Finely grate enough zest from lemons to measure 2‚ teaspoons and squeeze enough juice to measure about 1/2 cup. Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, beat together butter, 2 cups sugar, and zest until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until batter is combined well. Beat in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and divide batter between loaf pans, smoothing tops. Bake loaves in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour (45 minutes for the smaller loaves).

4. While loaves are baking, in a small bowl stir together remaining lemon juice and remaining 1/2 cup sugar until sugar is dissolved.

5. Cool loaves in pans on a rack 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert loaves onto rack. Turn loaves right side up and pierce tops all over with a thin skewer. Repeatedly brush lemon glaze over tops of loaves until all of glaze is absorbed.

Cool loaves completely before serving. Can be frozen up to one month wrapped tightly in foil.

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