I love lemon. Love it. When I saw this, lemon and cream cheese, I had to try it, no matter how complicated it looked. It turns out, it's a lot simpler than it looks!
I found this recipe on Crunchy Creamy Sweet
This is very much a coffee cake. The streusel crumbs, the moist cake, the cream cheese middle. It's not overly sweet, so it's a nice morning treat.
This has a bunch of steps, and requires a bunch of bowls (reuse seems to be fine), but it comes together pretty easily. The middle layer is a bit delicate, but don't worry too much about it.
It can be hard to see "golden" crumb when it's inside the oven. Take care the cream cheese filling doesn't get too dark.
Cake (Bottom layer)
- 1 1/2 c flour
- 1/2 c sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 c buttermilk or sour milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 c vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon zest (altogether you'll need about 1 lemon)
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Cream Cheese (middle layer)
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 1/3 c sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 egg
Streusel Topping (top layer)
- 1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 c sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 c flour
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 13x9 baking pan and set aside. Melt the butter for the streusel, and zest and juice the lemon.
First the cake batter: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (all the dry ingredients). In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, vanilla, oil, eggs, zest, and juice (all the web ingredients). Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and combine. Spread in bottom of baking pan.
Next, the cream cheese: In a mixer, whip the cream cheese until creamy. Add the sugar, vanilla, and zest, and mix until combined. Add the egg and mix well, then spread gently over the top of the cake batter.
Finally, the streusel topping: In a bowl, combine sugar, salt, and flour. Add melted butter, and mix together with a fork until crumbly. Spread crumbs all over the top of the cream cheese.
Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are browned. Let cool completely in the pan before serving.
The beauty of this is it's mostly baking staples. If you don't have buttermilk on-hand, regular milk and lemon juice or vinegar can be used to substitute.
Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.
To prep a lemon, we need to get the juice from the inside and the zest from the outside. The zest has the oil that has the real lemon flavor.
To make the lemon easier to juice, first roll it around to crush all the inner bits.
To zest a lemon, run a microplane over it until the yellow parts are gone, and only white bits (the pith) remains. The white bits are bitter, so don't get them in your zest.
The white bits on the bottom are done, and the yellow bits on the top still need some zesting.
Here's the lemon, fully zested.
And now we can juice it.
Slice the lemon in half
Squeeze out the juice into a container. If you're smart, put a strainer on top of the container to catch the seeds.
Or just pick out the seeds later.
Now that we're prepped, we can start mixing.
First, for the cake batter, combine the cake's dry ingredients.
Mix them together well.
Next, combine the wet ingredients.
Adding the lemon zest and juice.
And whisking them together.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients in the mixer.
Mix them together.
And then the cake batter is done.
Spread the cake batter in the bottom of the pan.
For the cream cheese middle, put the cream cheese in the mixer.
Whip the cream cheese until creamy.
Add the sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.
Finally, add the egg.
Mix it together until smooth.
And then gently layer the cheese on the cake batter.
Finally, for the streusel, combine the sugar, salt, and flour in a bowl.
Add the melted butter, and mix it together with a fork.
When it's done, it'll look crumbly, like this.
Spread the streusel on top of everything, and then bake for 35 minutes.
It's done when the edges are golden brown, and the streusel is slightly golden. Let cool completely, and enjoy!