Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lemon Love Affair

Updated post to include cake photos from 2015
Paul is the best juicer of the lemons
I love anything with citrus, particularly lemons—lemon meringue pie, Chicken Picatta, lemon pudding, lemon pound cake, lemon vinaigrette, and of course lemonade. Growing up in California, we of course had a lemon tree in our back yard. As kids we would cut lemons in half, dip them in sugar, and suck away all the sweet floral goodness. My parents still live in my childhood home, thankfully, otherwise I would think that a lemon tastes like the ones you buy in the store. The difference between the Meyer lemons on my parents’ tree and the ones you can buy in the store is the difference between a homegrown tomato and a store bought one. So each time I head to California I pick as many lemons as we can (as seen by Hallie in top photo) juice ’em (as demonstrated by Paul), and freeze ‘em for the next year. I keep a good 200 or so whole lemons in my cold garage to last me through the winter as well. I’m getting down to just a few left now.

Yesterday I revisted my love affair with lemon zest as I made my favorite lemon cake. Of course it’s from You really should get a $20 membership to that site if you haven’t already. It will wake up your taste buds. I’ve played around with the recipe and have made a few adjustments for living at high altitude (to prevent the cake from sinking and being too 'wet'.) Enjoy!

Lemon Bundt Cake (Serves 12 to 14)

You will need between five and six tablespoons of lemon juice for this recipe. Because the amount of juice can vary from lemon to lemon, we suggest you first measure the juice from the three lemons you have zested, then juice a fourth lemon if necessary. Serve this cake as is or dress it up with lightly sweetened berries. The cake has a light, fluffy texture when eaten the day it is baked, but if well wrapped and held at room temperature overnight its texture becomes more dense -- like that of pound cake -- the following day.

3 lemons , zest grated and saved, then juiced for 3 tablespoons juice (see note above) 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces) (16 oz. in high altitude)
1 teaspoon baking powder (minus 1/8 tsp. for high altitude)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk (preferably)
3 large eggs , at room temperature
1 large egg yolk , at room temperature
18 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 1/4 sticks), at room temperature (only 2 sticks at high altitude)
2 cups sugar (14 ounces)

2–3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (see note above)
1 tablespoon buttermilk
2 cups confectioners' sugar (8 ounces)
1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray with flour (alternatively, brush pan with mixture of 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon melted butter). Mince lemon zest to fine paste (you should have about 2 tablespoons). Combine zest and lemon juice in small bowl; set aside to soften, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Combine lemon juice mixture, vanilla, and buttermilk in medium bowl. In small bowl, gently whisk eggs and yolk to combine. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes; scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce to medium speed and add half of eggs, mixing until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining eggs; scrape down bowl again. Reduce to low speed; add about one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until just incorporated after each addition (about 5 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Scrape into prepared pan.

3. Bake until top is golden brown and wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into center comes out with no crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes.

4. FOR THE GLAZE: While cake is baking, whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice, buttermilk, and confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding more lemon juice gradually as needed until glaze is thick but still pourable (mixture should leave faint trail across bottom of mixing bowl when drizzled from whisk). Cool cake in pan on wire rack set over baking sheet for 10 minutes, then invert cake directly onto rack. Pour half of glaze over warm cake and let cool for 1 hour; pour remaining glaze evenly over top of cake and continue to cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut into slices and serve.


Patty said...

Yes, we'd sugar those lemons and suck out the pulp and juice. And, when we wanted money for the ice cream man, we'd go around selling those lemons around the neighborhood door-to-door for 5 cents a piece. All we had to do was sell 10 lemons. That was enough to buy 50 cents' worth of loot from the ice cream man! Of course, Tammy Black never had to resort to selling lemons for money from the ice cream man. Her mom spoiled her rotten and gave her money for the ice cream man anytine she wanted it.

Paul said...

I love the lemonade we get to enjoy year round. There is something sunny and summery about a glass of lemonade that brightens the greyest winter day.

I definitely married well for the abundance of lemons!!

Ilene said...

Rubbing lemon juice in my unlemon land wounds is just cruel.

Sure, I could subscribe to Cooks Illustrated or I can just keep calling you and checking out your blog... Hey, I'm a Winward. I'm cheap and savvy.

Ilene said...

Yeah, that's right. We're savvy.

Michael said...

Well, if all goes well we will be coming up next month and your mother has frozen several gallons of lemon juice to bring to you and your sister. I am thinking I could start a lemons-for-gasoline extortion thing now that I know your addiction. Can't wait for the avocado tree to start producing!


cyn the win said...

Oh I can't wait for the avocados either dad!!


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