Recipe — Lemon Bread

Unlike me, my father liked to cook. In fact, he paid part of his way through college as a short-order cook for his fraternity. When my father traveled and found a food item he liked, he cajoled the cook into giving him the recipe so he could make it himself.

Several years ago, my father went on a Snake River fishing trip. He stayed at the White Water Ranch along the way, and the ranch served lemon bread with breakfast. My father got the recipe, and it became one of his staples.

He passed the recipe along to me, and here it is, along with my suggestions and modifications:

Lemon Bread (makes two loaves)

1 cup oil (whatever kind you like)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
lemon rind (I grate 2 fresh lemons)
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or almonds — optional)

For the glaze:

1/4 cup lemon juice (I use juice from the 2 lemons)
2/3 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together oil and sugar. Add eggs, beat well. Add buttermilk.
3. Combine flour, salt & soda and beat into mixture.
[NOTE: Officially, the recipe says Steps 2 and 3 are separate, but I dump everything in the bowl before mixing. So did my dad. It works just fine.]
4. Add lemon rind and fold in nuts.
[NOTE: I peel the lemons, then grind the peel in a food processor and use it all. Also, the nuts are completely optional, if you have allergies. I usually use pecans, but I used almonds recently and liked the bread even better. Some people use walnuts. I grind the nuts in the food processor until they are almost pulverized before dumping them in.]
5. Pour into two greased loaf pans.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
[NOTE: The official recipe says 40 minutes, but I have always needed to bake the bread a full hour. Probably because of all the lemon peel and nuts. Make sure you cook it completely, or it will be too doughy.]
7. After the loaves have cooled, glaze with lemon juice and powdered sugar. If you want a thicker glaze, decrease lemon juice or add more powdered sugar.
[NOTE: I usually wait several hours or overnight to glaze the loaves. I like a heavy glaze, so I only use about half the lemon juice the recipe calls for, then I add powdered sugar until it’s as thick as cake frosting.]

A loaf of lemon bread out of the freezer, ready to slice

The hardest part is getting the bread out of the pans without the bottom sticking, even when the pans were thoroughly greased. If anyone has any secret tips on how to do this easily, please post in the comments.

Bread can be frozen. In fact, it is easier to slice if frozen, so I freeze the loaves right after I make them, then pull out a loaf about 30 minutes before I need to slice it.


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  1. Great recipe! Thank you. I’ll save it.

    I don’t know if you’ve tried this, but when I make banana bread, I liberally grease pans with butter and then dump in flour – 2 or 3 tablespoons at least – and then tap the pan in several directions to liberally coat bottom and sides with flour before adding batter.

    After baking, I allow bread to cool completely in the pans. It will begin to contract from the sides as it cools. And if I’m patient enough, from the bottom. Sometimes, putting the cooled pans in the fridge for a bit helps the bread contract better from the bottom.

    And there’s my baking instructions for the dat. 🙂

  2. Theresa, this recipe was great! I had lemon but no buttermilk; ran to the store to pick up some; made just one loaf (halved the recipe) and am thrilled with the result. Good for you and your dad for this recipe! I agree with your addendum, 40 minutes wasn’t near long enough; 55 worked perfectly for my one loaf.

  3. Very timely as I just happen to have been given a great bag of lemons. One of my other recipes puts the lemon peel in with the sugar in the food processor. That works really well to break up the peel and mix it in.

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