When friends visit in the summer, I like to have something a little sweet on hand that they can munch on whenever the mood strikes. So I'll put out a bowl of fruit and this all-day lemon cake. It's one of those cakes that goes equally well with a morning cup of coffee or a post-dinner, end-of-day drink.
Although the finished cake tastes like you spent a lot of time on it, the only prep required is a bowl, a whisk, and about five minutes. The recipe is what my mother would call a "dump cake:" You throw all the ingredients into one bowl, whisk by hand, plop the batter into a greased cake pan, and bake it for about thirty minutes. That's it. And the best part? Your minimal effort is rewarded with a delicate, lemon-scented cake that's a bit like a cross between a coffee cake and a birthday cake.
To finish the cake, I sometimes make a thick white icing from powdered sugar and lemon juice. Other times, I'll boil simple syrup with some lemon zest. Both glazes intensify the lemon flavor without making the cake too sweet. The simple syrup glaze changes the texture of the cake a little, making it damp, while the powdered sugar icing leaves the coffee cake-like texture in tact.
By the way, if you have extra berries on hand, toss them into the batter. This cake welcomes fruit. Blueberries are my favorite, but that's because I'm partial to anything lemon-blueberry. Or, if you don't want to put berries in the cake, put them on top. Macerate some ripe, chopped berries with just enough sugar to make the juices run and spoon the berries over the cake. Either way, with berries or without, this cake tastes like summer all day long.