Inspiration Cake

Sometimes, life hands you lemons. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, you understand, because there's always lemon cake.

Now, my love for lemon cake is nothing new, but it's only recently that I realized how...well, how truly inspirational a good lemon cake can be. I have Twitter and my lovely friend, author Erin Nicholas, to thank for that bit of insight. 

See, the other night I was attempting a #1K1hr marathon (that's writing one thousand words in an hour, for those of you who aren't obsessed writer types). I was struggling a little with it because, as usual, there was no dearth of interruptions and distractions going on here at Casa Forte. During an hourly Twitter-check-in, Erin happened to mention the fact that not only was she was she getting more wordage in than I was, she was also baking lemon cake while she did it.

Well. I'm afraid my first thought was, "Gee, thanks a lot, Erin!"  or words to that effect because, really, how is it helpful to be handed a craving that you have no way of satisfying, especially at a time when you're having more than enough trouble with the task already at hand? It's a lot like those proverbial lemons, right? Well, exactly.

After another hour or so of fruitless (pun intended) struggle I realized that both my WIP and I would be better served by a little purposeful distraction. So I took a break to bake my own, damn lemon cake. I had everything I needed on hand but the buttermilk, so I used coconut milk instead and it still turned out pretty awesome. In fact, I think I might like it better that way.  And the writing? Well, the night was pretty much shot by then, but the next day, fortified with a nice slice of cake or two, I found the words flowed a lot more smoothly and I was able accomplish everything I'd been having trouble with the night before. Which, in this case, was hot, vampire sex.

So, here's my recipe for inspiration cake. I use Meyer lemons whenever possible for anything lemon-related, but feel free to use ordinary lemons instead...or limes...or maybe grapefruit. Because, just like with the buttermilk, or with writing itself, sometimes trying something different is exactly the inspiration you need.

Inspiration Cake


  • ½ c butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ c flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ c buttermilk
  • Grated zest from 2 large Meyer lemon
  • Juice of 1 large Meyer lemon

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1 large Meyer lemon


  1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 1 standard loaf pan, or line with parchment paper. 
  2. Cream  butter,  sugar and lemon zest together until fluffy. Try not to ‘taste-test’ too much at this point. 
  3. Sift t flour, baking powder, and salt together in one bowl. In another bowl, combine lemon juice and buttermilk. Alternately add wet and dry ingredients into the creamed butter/sugar mixture until they’re all incorporated. Pour batter into pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the second cup of sugar and the juice from the second lemon  and set aside.
  5. When the cake is done,  remove from pan and invert invert on a rack or plate. Poke holes in the top of the cake and pour glaze over cake, allowing it to soak in. Allow cake to cool for at least ten minutes before devouring completely.
Works best if accompanied by black coffee, or pots of espresso, and served to your author at her desk. 

And now, because you all know how much I love sharing excerpts, here's a quick scene from Touch of a Vanished Hand.

[Sinead] sniffed the air again, and then looked around until she caught sight of what she’d been searching for.  An ancient lemon tree stood sentry beside the stone stairway; starred with blossoms, perfuming the air. 

 Yes. She could make lemon curd, as well, something she remembered fondly from her own childhood. As they ascended the stairs, Sinead pulled a lemon from an overhanging branch and put it to her nose. It was overripe, its skin cracked, the tender flesh inside already drying from the heat. Still, it smelled delicious; bright, pungent, intoxicating. There were so many things she could make with it, not just curd, but pies and cookies and lemonade. It had been a long time since she’d had a chance to do this kind of cooking, homey and intimate, using ingredients chosen spontaneously, because they were close to hand, or had sparked a craving. She’d missed that. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad spending a little time on land.

Read the rest of the excerpt HERE.


Moira said...

Great excerpt and fantastic recipe. I love lemon cake. I might need to play with this recipe!

Selena Robins said...

Great blog post! Cake sounds delicious. I'm a huge lemon fan as well. Thanks for the recipe.

Nancy Lauzon said...

Sounds like a fab recipe. Wish I had time today to make it for tonight. I had promised to bring a dessert to a dinner we're going to, but it's looking like I'll have to buy something at the store ... sigh =)