Light and Luscious: Lemon Flaxseed Cake

by Terry B on December 6, 2006

Vegetable oil in place of butter and heart healthy flaxseed meal make luscious Lemon Flaxseed Cake relatively guilt-free. Recipe below.

Is there anything as fresh, clean and bracing as the fragrance of lemons? Slicing or juicing lemons or grating their skin for the zest immediately fills your kitchen with tantalizing promise, on par with smashing garlic cloves: Something wonderful and delicious is about to happen.

This loaf cake is a perfect example. Light and sweet—but not too sweet—it is a perfect holiday treat. To bring to a party, to serve at a party of your own or just to have around the house for the family. It’s a substantial cake, not unlike pound cake in density, but the lemon flavor [and the lack of butter] makes it seem lighter. And because it contains flaxseed meal, it delivers those much sought after omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the heart. So you don’t even have to feel guilty eating it. This recipe is based on one found in Cooking Light magazine.

Lemon Flaxseed Cake
12 servings

For Cake:
1/4 cup [+ a little extra] vegetable oil
1 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons flaxseed meal [or 1/4 cup flaxseed ground in small food processor]
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
grated zest of 1 lemon [see Kitchen Notes]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Frosting:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Pour a little vegetable oil—a teaspoon or less—into a 4×8-inch loaf pan and wipe with a paper towel to coat the bottom and sides. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of sugar to also coat bottom and sides. Shake, tilt and tap the pan to spread the sugar evenly. Set aside.

Combine remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar and eggs in a large bowl. Beat with electric mixer at high speed for 3 minutes—mixture should be pale and thick.

In another bowl, combine flaxseed meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir well to mix ingredients evenly.

In a measuring cup, combine buttermilk, remaining 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, lemon zest and vanilla.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture, alternating with buttermilk mixture. Start and end with the flour mixture. I generally do about 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the buttermilk, 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk and the final 1/3 of the flour. You do this so everything blends more smoothly, so you’re not trying too mix too much dry and wet stuff all at once. Trust me on this.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350º for 55 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Avoid inserting probe in the crack that inevitably forms along the top of the crust—the crust edge may serve as a natural scraper, removing telltale underdone batter and leave you with an underdone cake.

Cool in pan for 5 minutes on wire rack. Then remove cake from pan and allow to cool completely on wire rack.

Frost the cake: Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Mix it carefully, pressing on it with the back of a spoon to smooth out any little lumps of powdered sugar. And don’t mix the frosting until you’re ready to use it—it will harden quickly and become unusable if you make it ahead. Drizzle over top of cake [see Kitchen Notes].

Kitchen Notes

Lemon zest. You want just the yellow outer skin, not the white rind underneath. You can use the finest side of a box grater, but I find that you end up leaving lots of zest on the grater. I prefer this tool. It’s more efficient, and it produces wonderful thin little ribbons of zest that are beautiful when added to a salad or tossed with steamed green beans, for instance. This one came from Target [I think]. A quick check of their website didn’t turn it up, but did yield a couple similar zesters.

Lemon frosting. I use a spoon to drizzle the frosting and control it better. Whatever you do, frosting will run down the side of the loaf and pool in the plate. Sometimes I frost the loaf on the serving plate and let the hardened frosting puddle be part of the presentation. Other times, I frost it on one plate, then transfer the finished cake to the serving plate. Also, this frosting is so delicious and fresh tasting—and so brainlessly simple to make—that I’m sure you could find many uses for it. Drizzling over sugar cookies or brownies or just about anything chocolate springs immediately to mind.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

eggsonsunday January 30, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Terry, this looks delicious! I’m going to have to try it. I love the addition of the flaxseed meal, what a boost of nutrition. Thanks for the recipe! – Amy

Beth February 3, 2008 at 2:14 am

What a fantastic looking recipe and photos! Now you’re challenging me to find flaxseed and buttermilk in Tokyo?! :) I have 1 bag of flaxseed remaining that I brought over with me. I just might have to open it up and enjoy some of it with this recipe!

I wonder if you could use olive oil in place of the vegetable oil? I imagine the citrus flavor would mix nicely with the olive oil?

brilynn February 3, 2008 at 4:16 am

That looks beautiful! And I’m sure it was pretty tasty too!

Terry B February 3, 2008 at 6:27 am

eggsonsunday—Yep, those wonderful omega-3 fatty acids, now in a delicious lemony flavor.

Beth—I think you’ll like this. I’m not sure about olive oil—it might bring too much flavor to the party. But canola oil is almost as healthy and pretty flavor neutral.

brilynn—Thanks! It’s a fairly light dessert, which can be nice, especially after a big meal.

Dayna February 3, 2008 at 11:29 pm

I love anything citrus – must have been delicious.

Kayla February 4, 2008 at 12:33 am

This sounds SO tasty! I’m going to try it using gluten free baking mix though for my gluten-sensitive hubby. It’s so hard to find good recipes that work with all of his many allergies. This one looks spectacular!

Hélène April 22, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Thanks for sharing this recipe with flaxseeds. That interesting. Looks yummy.

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