Lemon Cake with Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache

Double Layer Lemon Cake with Sour Cream Ganache: many words for a simply delicious cake

OMG, this cake is so good.  Moist lemon cake, rich chocolate frosting – my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  There are several steps  but none are difficult.  Make sure you’ve got all your ingredients before starting and pretty shortly you’ll have a new favorite cake on your kitchen counter.

Lemon Cake with Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 lb butter (unsalted if you’ve got it, or use salted and half the amount of salt you add to the batter)
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs or 5 large eggs
  • zest of 6-8 lemons
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (unless you use salted butter, then use 1/2 tsp)
  • juice of 6-8 lemons
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk*
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups full-fat sour cream

If you have 6-8 lemons sitting looking at you (if they are large use 6, if they are small use 8) wash then zest them (a microplane grater works best for this task.)  Set aside zest.  Roll the lemons on the counter for 10 seconds before juicing to release all the pulp and juice.  Juice lemons, set aside juice.  

Grease two 9″ cake pans and either line with parchment rounds cut out to fit the bottom of the pans or flour the well-greased pans.  (You can also do this cake in one layer in a Bundt pan.  Grease and flour it.)  Preheat oven to 350F.

In a mixer beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.  

Add the eggs, one at a time beating between to incorporate.  Beat in the zest.

In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  

Measure 3/4 cup of lemon juice and add to the buttermilk*.  Into the butter/egg mix add the flour mix and the buttermilk mix, alternating.  Start with 1/3 of the flour mix, beat in.  Add 1/3 of the buttermilk mix, beat in.  Etc, finishing with the last of the buttermilk mix.  Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl then beat the batter for a couple of minutes.  Pour batter evenly into the pans (or one Bundt) and gently tap on counter to distribute evenly.  

Bake cakes 20 minutes then check with a thin knife or toothpick inserted in the middle.  Bundt cakes will take much longer, 45 minutes – 1 hour.  Thinner cake rounds will take less time, 20-30 minutes.  As soon as the cakes are done, remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack until you can handle the pans without burning yourself (about 10 minutes).  Remove cake and allow to cool on the rack.  

While cake is cooling, make the glaze and ganache.  Into a small saucepan put 1/2 cup lemon juice and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar.  Over low heat, stirring often, melt the sugar and make a simple syrup.  Once the cakes are cool to the touch, use a pastry brush and brush all over (tops and sides) with the lemon syrup.  While that glazed cakes are cooling, melt the chocolate chips (either use the microwave or double-boiler).  Remove the melted chocolate from heat and using a hand mixer beat in the sour cream.  If you have any lemon juice left throw it into the ganache.  Scrape the sides and beat the ganache until well-mixed.  Use 1/4-1/3 of the ganache in between the layers of the cake and use the rest to frost the tops and sides.  You want to use the ganache before it cools too much to be pliable.  If it hardens up, melt in the microwave a few seconds at a time just until it is soft enough to spread easily.  Cut slices and eat.  You can hold out a pinch of the lemon zest and use to garnish the top of the cake, if you like.

*A note on buttermilk.  If you aren’t someone who always has it on hand or you don’t want to buy a whole carton you can make your own easily using regular milk and vinegar.  Measure your milk just shy of 3/4 cup then add 2 tsp white vinegar or, you know, lemon juice.  If you need to top it up to make 3/4 cup add milk.  Stir and you’ve got buttermilk perfect for baking.

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