Cooking Challenge #5: Yeasted Lemon Cake


Welcome back to the cooking challenge. Today we’ve made a Yeasted Lemon Cake, which is a bit like cake and a bit like bread. Imagine if cornbread was not made of corn but was sweet and tasted like lemon.

This recipe is locally sourced, courtesy of Frau Karns. I had made this once already, and it worked fairly well, so one would hope it turned out as good or better the second time. 

When I say that this cake is a lot like cornbread, I mean it; many people asked me if it was cornbread when I brought it to school. This being the case, that means that it is super dense and porous. The recipe is in two parts, dough and syrup, the latter of which carries the bulk of the flavor. Since the cake is super porous when baked, it absorbs the syrup really well. What’s really impressive is how little the cake dries out. It always tasted so fresh, but I would recommend keeping it covered when it’s not being served. 

I will say, after already having made this recipe, it is so much easier the second time. Being familiar with what I was doing really made the process that much easier. Previously I had mixed up some of the directions when making the syrup, but wouldn’t you know it; the syrup was actually more cooperative that time. I had to mix the lemon juice with the heat on so the sugar would stay melted, but it still worked very well.

Lots of recipes will recommend serving this cake with whipped cream and berries, which I never tried, but it sounds like it couldn’t be bad. I think something like a fluffy lemon jello salad would be really nice on top of the cake, since it would almost act as a fresher type of icing.

“I think it was pretty good, but maybe if you put some powdered sugar on top it would be good,” said senior Alexis Sedlak.

The main problem with this cake is how fast it goes. Every time I’ve made this recipe, it’s been largely devoured in just one class period. Nobody had any bad things to say about it, and I’ve even gotten approval from Frau Karns on multiple occasions. It’s such a simple recipe, so it works for everyone.

“10/10. Would recommend. I’m impressed with Cale’s culinary skills, didn’t peg you for a chef.”~ Mrs. Lentz

One thing I did differently with this recipe than I’ve done with with previously cooking challenges was use an electric scale for proportions. Recently I bought an electric scale, and this recipe has the measurements in grams, so I decided to use that when possible. Did it make a difference? Probably not a significant one. But it was fun.

I started with gathering all my ingredients, the most difficult of which was the lemon zest. My dad was kind enough to grate some lemons to produce the zest as I worked on everything else, so shoutout to him for making the process that much better.

Start with mixing 3/4 cup of the flour with the yeast, sugar, and salt. Next combine the warm milk and butter, then slowly add that to the flour mixture just made. It’s not necessary to fold the flour, but it works well so that’s what I did.

Lastly, add the remaining flour, eggs, and lemon zest. Again, folding is not necessary, but that’s how I did it.

Put the flour in a greased pan. The recipe recommends a 10″ diameter ring or monkey bread pan, but I just used a typical baking dish. Toss it in the oven that has been preheated to 375 and bake for around 20 minutes. Once the 20 minutes is up, check the cake with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If it’s not clean though, wait about a minute than try again. You do not want to overcook the cake as it will dry out and has a chance of getting stuck in the pan, which it when I made this cake. Frau Karns says butter works very well when greasing the pan, so I would try that over Pam or shortening.

While the cake is in the oven, make the syrup. It only takes 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water brought to a boil in a pan, but that doesn’t work very well; the sugar wasn’t melted when I turned off the heat to add the lemon juice. I recommend just putting the lemon juice in there too, and then maybe adding some corn syrup to thicken the syrup a bit.

Once it’s all done, pour half of the syrup on the cake. Let it soak for a bit, then flip the cake out of the pan and pour the rest of the syrup on the cake. It says to let it cool, but honestly, it doesn’t hurt to follow the golden rule of the cooking challenge: get it while it’s hot.


  • 2 1/4 cups (270g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, divided
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (7g) instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) milk, warm
  • 10 tablespoons (142g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon zest (grated rind) of 1 lemon


  • 3/4 cup (149g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (113g) water
  • 1/2 cup (113g) lemon juice