When it comes to cakes, I'm pretty traditional--I like dark chocolate layers with good buttercream. I have a great go-to recipe for a double chocolate layer cake that involves strong hot coffee, which I think really does deepen the chocolatey flavor. I've made this cake for many birthdays, as a sheet, in stackable rounds, and cupcakes.
The thing about a cake like that is that you kind of need more than two people to eat it. So it most often makes an appearance around birthdays. Yesterday I just wanted a simple cake to serve after a little spring lunch with my mother and husband.
I decided on an old-fashioned glazed lemon butter cake I had been eyeing in a recent issue of Gourmet. It makes one single-layer eight-inch cake, which seemed like a dignified size for three people. I enjoy making basic cakes like this. They are easy to to throw together on a Sunday morning, require little skill, and need minimal cleanup. I think single layer cakes can be quite elegant and often work well--better even--without frosting. Plus, they are easy to dress up or dress down. I decided to keep the presentation minimal and just go with a dusting of powdered sugar, and some sliced lemons. We were eating it mid-afternoon, so no need to get too decadent. Served after dinner though, I'd accompany it with raspberry sorbet or fresh fruit.
The cake turned out light and delicious and a pretty pale yellow. This is what it looked like.