Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lady Bird Johnson's Lemon Cake

I love to collect recipes from First Ladies. I even have a cookbook of recipes from the White House. I came across this recipe about 14 years ago in a newspaper article, and I've made it several times. It is delicious! I especially enjoy making this cake for Easter. There's something about lemon that sings Spring to me!

When I made this recipe I did make a few swaps so that my niece Catherine could enjoy it. Catherine has dairy, nut, and shellfish allergies. So when we have parties we make our dishes "Catherine approved."

I added extra lemon to the cooked cake, and I substituted the milk for rice milk and the butter for margarine (parve). Parve is a Hebrew term (pareve is the Yiddish term) that describes food without any meat or dairy ingredients.

After the cake cooled I drizzled fresh Meyer lemon juice and let it set over night. The extra lemon really makes the cake moist. The glaze isn't quite as smooth as it would be if I used butter, but it's still delicious.

3/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon lemon juice (I used meyer lemon)

***Lemon Icing***
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
1 lemon, grated rind only
1 lemon, juiced (meyer lemon)
2 teaspoons cream (or more, until spreading consistency)
yellow food coloring, if desired

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until light and lemon-colored; blend into creamed mixture. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; resift 3 times. Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture in thirds, alternating with milk. Beat the batter thoroughly after each addition.

Add vanilla extract, lemon rind and lemon juice; beat 2 minutes. Bake in greased 10-inch Bundt pan in preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. You can also can use three 9-inch round cake pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Double the frosting recipe for a layer cake.

Lemon Icing: Combine ingredients and beat, adding cream until desired consistency.


  1. Lemon is on of my favorite flavors. This looks delicious!

  2. You are so thoughtful to make Catherine friendly dishes. What a wonderful aunt you have been to your nieces and nephews. This cake looks delicious and oh so lemony. Lemon desserts are my favorite. Right after your blueberry pie of course.

  3. I love lemon the cake sounds lovely with a cup of tea.

  4. Yes, ma'am! That cake does look fit for a Spring dinner party! What an awesome auntie you are!

  5. i havent talked to you in awhile! gosh time keeps going by! your lemon cake sounds and looks wonderful and springy! i may have to give it a try! i read your previous post and boy what a nice birthday gettogether you had and lots of years together for everyone! how lucky and blessed, wonderful! i hope spring is on the way for you guys! we still have tons of snow but i did see a robin! so there is hope!! enjoy your evening!!

  6. When I think lemon I do think of Spring. This lovely cake looks quite yummy and oh so pretty... and yes I am going to give it a try. Thank you for sharing and many thanks to Lady Bird too!

  7. I love lemon desserts. Great recipe I will have to try!

  8. I was coming over to visit your blog when I saw that thumbnail, ha!
    I never thought about president's wives cooking!
    I LOVE lemon things.

  9. Lemon is always my first choice for a cake and I have to do dairy free for my mother (we can't just eat it on our own!). I will definitely be making this, especially with its provenance!!
    Have a happy Sunday!

  10. I have always found first ladies interesting too. I saw Lady Bird once in Texas. Great looking cake Mary.

  11. Mmmm...Mary how delightful. Wish I had a piece right now to go with my coffee! Happy Sunday to you.

  12. Your lemon cake sounds delicious. I just bought Meyer lemons last week but when I went back for more they were gone.

  13. looks beautiful and so sunny and cheery... love the idea that you love recipes by first ladies, for some reason it makes me chuckle... xxx

  14. Hi lovely lady.
    Yummy your lemon cake look and sounds so good. I would like to thank you so much for coming over to my 'April Showers" and putting a sweet comment on for me. I hope you and your family have a wonderful and Bless weekend.
    XXOO Diane

  15. This sounds rich and decadent:) Lady Bird Johnson knows her stuff so I'm sure this is delicious and I like anything with lemon!


  16. This looks delicious!!! I'm going to try it, thanks for sharing. I make Hilary CLinton's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!

  17. I also own First Ladies Cookbook, Mary! I love it for both the recipes and reading about each First Ladies' era. It end with Mrs Reagan, so I should see if there is an updated version.

    This sounds like a delicious cake, and I love how you were able to modify it for an allergy sensitive relative. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors for a cake!

  18. Looks and sounds wondeful, and you're right - very much spring-like and perfect for Easter!

  19. Love, love, love, any lemony cakes and this is no exception. 'Broken' glaze and all! Thanks for stopping by Kitchen Butterfly. And I hope your niece enjoyed it thoroughly.

  20. Lemon or chocolate? Give me lemon with my tea any day! I love this cake.

  21. I love anything lemony, especially lemon cakes, and this one looks yummy and so pretty! Must give it whirl, and as you say,perfect for easter time and Spring.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Gill xx

  22. Mmm, your cake looks delicious! I made some mini muffins the other day with lemon in them, and they were super tasty. Bet this cake would be, too :)


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