Grab your very favorite citrus (I used lemon here) and make this bright, fresh citrus-y cake! Tested with lemon, blood orange, cara cara and lime (one of my favorites!). It comes together quickly and can be casual with just the glaze or load it up with jazz hands and candied lemon peel. I hope this becomes your new favorite, go-to lemon cake!! xo
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the lemon zest and sugar. Run the machine for 1 minute on low to completely combine the two. If you're feeling it reach in there with your hands and massage the lemon zest into the sugar to really infuse the lemon flavor in there. With the mixer on low, slowly stream in the olive oil until it's completely blended with the sugar. Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure the first is well blended before adding in the next. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well blended. Add the almond extract and run the machine on medium for 1 minute more.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt. Add to the sugar mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk. Again, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated. Let your batter sit for a minimum of 30 minutes.
For the Lemon Soak
To prepare the Lemon Soak, combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool a bit.
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 F (177 C). Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan (23x13 cm) and line with parchment paper. Let some excess hang over the sides so that it's easy to get the cake out of the pan when it's done baking. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap several times on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake in the center of the oven for about 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick pressed in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes and then brush the Lemon Soak over the top of the cake. If you don't have a pastry brush, then just slowly pour it all over the top giving it time to absorb into the cake. After another 10 minutes use the parchment overhand to lift the cake out of the tin and finish cooling completely on the rack. Set a baking sheet underneath the cooling rack.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream and lemon juice until smooth. Pour all over the top of the cake; tap the baking sheet on the counter several times to settle the glaze and have it drip down the sides.
For the Candied Lemon Peel
Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to cut the top layer of peel away from the lemon. If you get some pith that's ok, because we're going to sweeten the heck out of it. I like to try and cut long, wide pieces. Fill a small, heavy-bottommed saucepan with the lemon peel, sugar and water and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. After 30 minutes, flip the pieces over and cook for 20 minutes more. Set them on a layer of parchment paper to dry out (ideally overnight) before using. When dried, arrange over the top of the cake. Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature.
*I like to give a larger bake-time range with loaves because you have a larger mass of cake batter in a smaller container. If your oven runs hotter yours will be done on the lower end of the range; if cooler, your cake may take a bit longer.