Thursday, January 21, 2010

When life hands you meyer lemons you make Lemon Loaf

Look at the beautiful lemon glaze.

Recently I have been on a lemon kick. But not just any lemon will do. I am in love with the meyer lemon, something I only first tasted after I moved to California. If temperate climate and beautiful landscapes haven't convinced me to stay, the meyer lemon may have tipped the scales.

Meyer lemons were brought over to the U.S. from China in 1908 by Frank Nicholas Meyer, a Department of Agriculture employee. Since then, they have been widely grown in California. The meyer lemon is thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. This fruit is more golden in color than your typical lemon and bears a sweeter and brighter flavor.

Golden orbs of goodness

I have been buying mine at our local farmers' market, but I have seen them at Whole Foods and Safeway as well. With a bunch of meyer lemons staring at me yesterday, I began looking for a good recipe. My mother gave me the Barefoot Contessa Parties! book last Christmas, and I found a lovely recipe for lemon loaf.

I pulled out all of the ingredients: the flour, sugar, butter, milk, eggs, salt, leavening, vanila, and meyer lemons. I measured everything out and mixed together the dry ingredients, including the zest. Zesting meyer lemons is a pain in the butt, because their skin is softer and thinner than regular lemons. It actually becomes more of a paste. I creamed the butter and the sugar. I mixed together the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. I alternated the dry with wet ingredients, forming a lovely batter. Everything was going swimmingly, until I read that I was supposed to make a syrup with lemon juice and sugar. Oops! I added a 1/4 cup extra sugar and 1/4 cup extra juice. At that point it was too late, so I scooped the batter into a pan and popped it in the oven. 50 minutes later it was done.

Lemon Loaf

I decided against the syrup, and instead just made a simple glaze with lemon juice and confectioner's sugar. The cake was delicious. Extremely moist with wonderful lemon flavor. The glaze gave it a little crunch. I brought it into work and it was gone before 10am! I will have to try the recipe as it was originally written, but it is safe to say that my "tweaks" to the recipe worked well.

Lemon Loaf Cake
Barefoot Contessa (my notes in parentheses)

1/4 lb unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 extra large eggs
2 tbsp lemon zest (or as much as you can get from 5 meyer lemons)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/8 cup meyer lemon juice
3/8 cup milk (I used 1% milkfat)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Cream the butter and 1 cup of the sugar (I used 1 1/4 cups) until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on medium speed.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the zest. In another bowl combine 1/8 cup of lemon juice (I used 3/8), milk, and vanilla. Add the flour and the milk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with flour. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 45-60 minutes (I baked mine for 50 minutes).

(I IGNORED THIS PART) Combine 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup lemon juice in a small sauce pan and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. When the cake is done let cool ten minutes. Spoon the syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.

(I USED THIS GLAZE) Combine lemon juice and sugar and mix until smooth. Pour glaze over cooled cake.


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