Ladee Hubbard’s Lemon Cake

Ladee Hubbard recommends this lemon cake recipe to accompany a book club discussion of her novel, THE RIB KING. The recipe, from Toni Tipton-Martin's JUBILEE: Two Centuries of African American Cuisine, was adapted from Malinda Russell's A Domestic Cook Book: Containing a Careful Collection of Useful Receipts from the Kitchen, the first known cookbook written by an African American woman in the United States.



For the cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated lemon zest
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice

For the lemon glaze

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 34 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice


To make the cake

  1. Have all ingredients at room temperature. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube or 2 (8×4-inch) loaf pans.
  2. Cream together the butter and 2 cups of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the lemon zest.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, alternately beat in the dry and liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. 
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a wood tester inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  5. Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar with lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. When cake is done, use a skewer to poke holes over the entire top. Carefully spoon the lemon syrup over the cake, allowing syrup to soak in before adding more.
  6. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then invert cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the lemon glaze

  1. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Spoon over cooled cake.

Keywords: Cake, Lemon Cake