New York Times News Service

East 62nd Street Lemon Cake

Servings: 10 to 12

Preparation time: About 2 hours

For the cake:

Fine dry breadcrumbs or flour for dusting the pan

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons lemon zest

For the glaze:

1/3 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup sugar

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch tube pan. Coat it with the breadcrumbs.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

3. Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

4. Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. Stir in the lemon zest. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top of the batter. Bake 1 1/4 hours, or until the cake tests done.

5. While the cake bakes, make the glaze. Warm the juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until all of the sugar is dissolved. Cover and remove from heat.

6. When the cake is done, immediately unmold the cake onto a cake rack and apply the glaze with a pastry brush to the top and sides of the cake until it is all absorbed.

When Craig Claiborne discovered Maida Heatter in 1968, she was already a bit of a Miami Beach celebrity. She and her husband, Ralph Daniels, a former airline pilot, ran a small restaurant, and Heatter, a jewelry-maker, illustrator and self-taught baker, made all the desserts. The locals were crazy about them.

Claiborne, then the food editor of The New York Times, was in town to cover the culinary side of the Republican National Convention. As a publicity ploy, Heatter got her hands on some canned elephant meat and developed a recipe for elephant-meat omelets with sautéed bananas and chopped peanuts. No one ordered it, but the stunt got Heatter the attention she had hoped for. Claiborne arrived to cover the omelets but left besotted with Heatter’s desserts.

So much so that in 1970, Claiborne featured three of Heatter’s cakes in The New York Times Magazine. One was a recipe for a simple lemon cake that Toni Evins Marks, Heatter’s daughter, had found. She sent it to her mother, who tinkered with it and renamed it the East 62nd Street Lemon Cake because that’s where Marks lived. It quickly became a favorite among Times readers. Nancy Reagan and Bill Blass were said to be fans.

Four years later, with encouragement from Claiborne, Heatter published her first cookbook, “Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts,” for which she won a James Beard Award. She wrote several more (many included the cake recipe) and earned two more James Beard Awards. At 101, she still lives in Miami Beach (the restaurant sold in 1974), and with a niece, Connie Heatter, she is working on a compilation of her fans’ favorite recipes, to be published in summer 2019.

In late January, the Food section received a reader email urging us to publish Maida Heatter’s East 62nd Street Lemon Cake on NYT Cooking. We quickly pulled the recipe from our archives, took beautiful new photos and published it online. Almost immediately, enthusiastic reader comments trickled in, like this one from Edna: “This is a favorite in our household. I made it for the first time 40 years ago when I was in the fourth grade! Now with a household of my own, it is a regular!”

The cake itself is a golden Bundt, scented with lemon zest and painted with a tangy lemon-sugar syrup while still warm, an elegant dessert for almost any occasion. Top it with berries and whipped cream, or leave it plain and serve it with tea.