But for days when even that is too much effort ... there's always my quick and easy feeds-a-crowd lemon sheet cake that is served right from the pan--perfect for any large casual party. The only special equipment required is an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan.
It is quite a flat cake, dense and velvety, and can be cut into about seven or eight dozen 1 1/2-inch squares as a quick and easy stand-in for petits fours (I don't make those anymore either!) at your next large tea party.
Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake(Makes 18x13x1-inch half-sheet, 32 servings)
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups buttermilk, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 packed cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
7/8 cup (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature3 cups confectioner's sugar1/16 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon vanilla extract3 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice1 Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan with cooking spray; don’t try to make-do with a smaller pan, or the batter will overflow.
2 In medium bowl, lightly combine the eggs, 1/3 cup of the buttermilk and the vanilla.
3 In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; with electric mixer on low speed, mix for 1 minute to blend (it rather takes the place of sifting). Add the softened butter and remaining buttermilk. Mix on low speed until combined. Mix on medium-high speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest by hand; otherwise, the zest gets all tangled up in the beaters.
(I often use this two-stage mixing method I first learned about from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.)
4 Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly on wire rack, about 15 minutes, before frosting. While the cake is cooling just a bit, make the frosting.
5 In large mixing bowl, beat softened butter. Gradually beat in confectioner's sugar, then salt, vanilla and lemon juice. With offset spatula, apply thinly to the slightly cooled cake. It will melt a bit into a smooth, shiny glaze. Let cool thoroughly, 3 to 4 hours, before serving.