My lemon velvet sheet cake tastes like a cake from a boxed mix, but in the best way. The lemon flavor is extra bright from copious amounts of zest and freshly squeezed juice. I use oil, rather than butter (a la Betty Crocker and my grandmother) for an extra moist cake, with a tender crumb. (It also helps that subbing oil for butter makes it easier.) I call for a couple of yolks for additional moisture and richness, and crème fraiche (or sour cream) for a little tang. The glaze, however, is straight from my grandmother. I like to think this cake would make her happy. —Jessie Sheehan
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Lemon Velvet Sheet Cake
For the cake
1 1/2 cups
cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups
all purpose flour
tightly-ish packed lemon zest (about 4 large lemons)
lemon extract, optional
pure vanilla extract
neutral olive oil – not extra virgin (i use filippo berio)
crème fraiche (you can sub sour cream)
For the glaze
2 1/2 cups
confectioners’ sugar, sifted
In This Recipe
Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 13x9x2-inch pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and the zest and using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until fully incorporated. Add the extracts and oil and whisk. Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, whisking between each addition. Add the juice and whisk again; and then the crème fraiche, whisking a final time to incorporate—don’t be afraid to whisk relatively vigorously throughout all of this.
Add the dry ingredients all at once, and using a rubber spatula, very gently fold the dry into the wet.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 33 minutes, rotating at the half way point, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a moist crumb or two.
Set the pan on a cooling rack and let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert the cake right side up on to the rack, and rest it in a baking sheet with sides. If you want to serve it from the pan, you can skip this step.
To make the glaze, place the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a large bowl. whisk vigorously until smooth.
Gently pour the glaze over the cake, using an offset spatula to spread the glaze, if it pools, and let the cake cool until room temperature. (fyi: My grandmother's recipe recommends poking the cake all over with a toothpick, so that the glaze seeps into the cake. I have done this, but it results in a pock-marked cake. the choice is yours). The cake is super moist and will keep tightly covered at room temp for 3 to 5 days. This cake is probably one of those that tastes even better on day two, but i wouldn't know . . .
Jessie Sheehan is a cookbook author, food writer, recipe developer, and baker. She is the author of The Vintage Baker and the co-author of Icebox Cakes (both published by Chronicle Books). She has developed recipes for many cookbooks, besides her own, and has contributed recipes/and or written for Epicurious, Food52, Fine Cooking, TASTE, Little Sous, and Main Street Magazine, among others. She blogs at jessie sheehan bakes and can be found on Instagram at @jessiesheehanbakes. She likes layer cakes with lots of frosting and cookies that are thick and chewy. Oh, and she has a soft spot for chocolate pudding. She lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn, with her husband and two boys, not far from her beloved Baked, the bakery where she got her start.