Light Lemon Bundt Cake

K’s birthday was this past Saturday. For the cake, I made Cook’s Illustrated’s Light Lemon Bundt Cake. This thing is so good. It’s light, which means you don’t have to feel too guilty eating it, and it’s full of flavor. The secret to the cake is lots of lemon zest.

Light Lemon Bundt Cake, Recipe from Cook's Illustrated


My favorite thing about the cake is its crumb. It’s perfect – not too dense and not too spongy. In fact, the whole thing reminds me of one enormous doughnut. Especially with the lemon glaze on top. Yummy.

Light Lemon Bundt Cake with Glaze

Light Lemon Bundt Cake - Cook's Illustrated
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16
  • Nonstick cooking spray with flour
  • 3 cups cake flour (12 ounces)
  • 2 cups sugar (14 ounces)
  • ¼ cup lemon zest , finely grated from 4 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup whole milk , at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs , yolks and whites separated
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice , from 1 lemon
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional) or Lemon Glaze (optional), recipe in related content
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar (4 ounces)
  • 5 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon grated zest from 1 lemon
  • Pinch salt
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray the inside of a standard 12-cup bundt pan with the nonstick baking spray.
  2. Whisk the flour, 1½ cups of the sugar, the zest, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a large bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, egg yolks, oil, butter, and vanilla together.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on low speed until just broken up and foamy. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium-high. Continue to beat, adding the remaining ½ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the whites are shiny and form stiff peaks.
  4. Slowly whisk the milk mixture and lemon juice into the flour mixture until smooth. Fold one third of the beaten egg whites into the batter until combined, smearing any stubborn pockets of egg white against the side of the bowl. Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the top. Wipe any drops of batter off the sides of the pan. Bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking (do not overbake).
  6. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and cool completely, 1 to 2 hours. If using the lemon glaze, whisk together all glaze ingredients in a medium bowl. When the cake is cool, dust with confectioners’ sugar (if using), or drizzle with the glaze and let the glaze set before serving, about 15 minutes.
This cake tastes best when made with whole milk. When separating the eggs for this cake, be sure not to get any yolk into the white, or the whites will not whip properly. The cake can be served plain, dusted with confectioners’ sugar, or served with the lemon glaze. If you don’t have nonstick baking spray with flour, mix 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon flour into a paste and brush inside the pan.


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