Tag Archives: lemon

Thirty-Two

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Right.

So.

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I had a birthday earlier this month. To be honest, this may be the first year when I haven’t given much thought about it, no major self-reflections on where I am in my life, about the past year or what I want to tackle in the future. No convincing myself that age is just a number and you are only as old as you feel. Perhaps because I had been crazy with work or because I knew I was going to spend the day with my family. Or more likely, because I didn’t really want to think about it.

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Thinking about cake, however, was something I could gladly spend my time on. By the start of March, my yearning for spring is all-consuming, so I tend towards fruit-filled cakes (see last year and the year before). This year was no exception, and as I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with my family in Washington, which includes a four-year old niece and a year and a half year old nephew, I steered away from my inclinations towards coffee and alcohol in my dessert.

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I’ve had this recipe for Poppy Seed Layer Cake with White Chocolate Cream and Strawberries saved for many years, but never a good opportunity (or crowd) to serve it. This is not your typical birthday cake (i.e. cloyingly sweet and overly dry), instead, its bright with lemon infused throughout and dotted with poppy seeds. The white chocolate cream? Out of this world and a perfect complement for the strawberries. It makes a large cake – so invite your favorite people to share it with. My cousin, notoriously picky (especially for non-chocolate desserts) even went back for a second piece.

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I may have had a second piece also … it was my birthday after all, and if nothing else, I make damn good dessert.

 

Poppy Seed Layer Cake with White Chocolate Cream and Strawberries
from Bon Appetit
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Poppy Seed Cake
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon zest (I used 3 lemons)
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
 
For white chocolate cream:
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
3 cups chilled whipping cream
 
2 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced and halved
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For the poppy seed cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pan with waxed paper; butter and flour paper and sides of pan. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Cut in 6 tablespoons butter and set aside. Beat sugar, remaining butter and lemon zest in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon juice and vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each, beating just until blended. Stir in poppy seeds. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until cake is golden and tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer pan to rack. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides; cool cake.

For the white chocolate cream:

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, eggs and lemon juice in top of double broiler set over gently boiling water. Whisk until very thick and candy thermometer registers 160°F, about 3 minutes. Remove from water. Add chopped white chocolate and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Beat heavy cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl to firm peaks. Fold in white chocolate mixture.

Assemble cake:

Turn cake out onto work surface. Peel off paper. Cut cake horizontally into two equal layers. Transfer one cake layer to platter, cut side up. Spread 1 1/2 cups white chocolate cream over the cake layer. Arrange sliced strawberries in single layer over chocolate cream. Spread more white chocolate cream over the strawberries. Top with second cake layer, cut side down. Spread 3 cups chocolate cream over top and sides of cake. Garnish cake with strawberries cut in half.

Mint + Lemon + Ice Cream

It’s full blown summer. Temps are soaring into the 90s and the heat index is beyond that. I finally caved and bought two small window AC units for my apartment. Summertime life is about eighty seven times better with air conditioning. My cats agree.

Summertime is better with ice cream as well. Especially when it’s a combination of two of my very favorites, mint and lemon. What a marvelously magical combination of flavors. Bright and sunny, tart, and oh-so refreshing. You know how some ice creams leave a heavy film inside your mouth after your finished. Not so here. Wham-bam lemon right of the bat, juxtaposed by a sweet lighter-than-air creaminess (thanks to the use of half and half instead of heavy cream) and finishes with a mellow minty-ness. I predict this will become one of my summer staples. In fact, I am looking forward to it.

An added bonus: a minimum of time spent at the stove. A quick heat to warm up the dairy so as to steep the mint, but that’s it for cooking time. No eggs, no cornstarch, no cooking until thick. I have a beautifully fragrant pot of lemon balm that I clipped from, in addition to my mint plant, but feel free to double up on the mint in this recipe if you don’t have lemon balm.

Lemon-Mint Ice Cream
makes ~1 1/2 pints (3 cups)
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2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup packed mint leaves
1/2 cup packed lemon balm leaves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (~3 lemons)
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Heat half and half, sugar, and salt over medium heat until steam starts to rise. Remove from heat and submerge mint and lemon balm leaves. Cover and let steep for an hour. Strain through a mesh sieve, pressing hard on leaves to extract as much flavor as possible. Finely zest 2 lemons directly into mint-infused half and half. Juice lemons and whisk into dairy. Chill throughly. Freeze in ice cream maker.

Raspberry Lemon Poppyseed Scones

Raspberries! We got raspberries in our CSA box this week (among other tasty goodies).

As my backyard raspberries have been wiped clean, this was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. In my book, raspberries trump all other berries (and fruits, for that matter). Sweet, tart and oh so perfectly hued.

*Swoon*

I admit, I gobbled them all up on Thursday evening without a second thought, enjoying every bite. But they’ve been on my mind ever since. So, on this lazy Sunday afternoon, with it’s overcast skies, I am also thinking of home, the almightly Pacific Northwest. Where coffee is king and available on every street corner. Where it’s often offered with a scone. So my mind turned to scones. Raspberry scones, to be precise. Raspberry Lemon Poppyseed Scones to be even more precise. (Luckily, I had the foresight to freeze some of my backyard bounty … and so these scones easily became a reality.)

Now, I am not actually a fan of the coffeeshop scone. Too often they are dry,  hard and cloyingly sweet. But these scones, the ones I baked this very afternoon, are delightful. Crispy edges and a soft, crumbly interior. The zing of lemon and the crunch of poppyseeds. And of course, the pockets of raspberries. It’s like uncovering a buried treasure chest. And when you add a cup of french press coffee with my favorite Batdorf and Bronson coffee bean from Olympia – well, it made me want to share the whole experience with you.

Raspberry Lemon Poppyseed Scones

makes 4 large scones

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Scones
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons poppyseeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest from 1 lemon
5 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup raspberriesGlaze
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar

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In food processor, add flour, sugar, poppyseeds, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.

Pulse a few times to combine. Add butter, and pulse a few more times, until resembling cornmeal.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and lemon juice. Add to dough and continue to pulse until it starts to come together. Add milk and pulse until dough fully forms. Remove blade from food processor and add raspberries (if using frozen raspberries – do not thaw).

Tranfer dough to floured countertop (the dough will be sticky) and fold a few times to incorporate the raspberries. Form a 6-8 inch disk, with the middle slightly higher than the edges. Cut into quarters and transfer to a cookie sheet. Brush tops with milk. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.


Mix together lemon juice and powdered sugar. Drizzle over warm scones.

I repeat: Delightful.

Lemon Curd Blueberry Tartlette

You know that phrase: “Easy as pie?”

I think it should be amended to: “Easy as tartlette.”

Okay, so maybe it doesn’t have the same ring to it. But I think this particular tartlette, with lemon curd and blueberries, is even easier than pie.

I’ve gone a little blueberry-crazy lately. I think it has to do with the buy one pint, get one pint free sale going on at the market lately. I used to be fairly blueberry- ambivalent. Not crazy about them, but not quite a hater. I could easily do without blueberry pancakes or blueberries and cream, but I certainly wouldn’t refuse to eat them either. Then I stumbled upon the lemon-blueberry combination at some point in my adulthood and I’ve been enchanted ever since.

I decided to make a tartlette because I am trying really hard to recognize the fact that I live by myself and probably shouldn’t consume an entire full-sized dessert by myself. It is swimsuit season afterall.

The tart crust is from Mark Bittman. I went ahead and made the entire recipe and then quartered the dough and stuck 3/4 of them in the freezer – to be used whenever the next tartlette whim comes upon me.

Lemon Curd Blueberry Tartlette

makes one 4 1/2 inch tartlette + 3 more tartlette crusts

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Crust
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
10 tablespoons cold butter
1 egg
3 tablespoons ice-cold water
 
1/3 cup Lemon Curd
 
1/3 cup fresh blueberries
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In a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Pulse a couple of times to mix. Add butter, pulse ~30 seconds until uniform. Add egg, pulse another ~30 seconds until uniform.

Transfer to a bowl and add water. With your hands, mix until dough forms a ball. Divide into 4 mini-balls (each one is perfect for a single 4 1/2 inch diameter tartlette pan). Wrap in plastic and store either in the freezer (for long term storage, good for a couple of weeks) or in the refrigerator (for short-term storage, good for a couple of days). Chill for at least 30 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll chilled dough out to slightly larger than your tartlette pan. Transfer to tartlette pan, making sure to press dough into all of the nooks and cranies. Pierce dough with fork and pre-bake at 425º for 10 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake for ten more minutes. Let cool before filling.

Heat lemon curd in the microwave until fluid, about 30 seconds. Spread into tartlette shell. Top with fresh blueberries.

It’s a good thing I only made a single tartlette. I could have easily eaten another one.

The beauty of this tartlette is that it isn’t limited to just blueberries. I am sure this would be just as good with strawberries or raspberries or any combination thereof.

Pull-Apart Lemon Bread

And so continues my lemon obsession. Really, I’ve starting buying lemons in three pound bags. But they are just so bright with their yellow color and smell so good. How could you not love them? In particular, when the sourness is paired with sugar – talk about a winning combination. So when I came across this post via Twitter, I knew that I wanted to give it a try. Layers of sweet yeast dough interspersed with lemon peel sugar and iced with a tangy lemon cream cheese icing. My mouth waters just thinking about it. It would be perfect for brunch or afternoon tea.

Pull-Apart Lemon Bread

originally from Flo Braker

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Sweet yeast dough
1/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
 
Lemon sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lemon zest
4 tablespoons butter, melted
 
Lemon cream cheese icing
3 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

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Put milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until butter is melted, about a minute.

Add water and let cool 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, sugar and milk mixture.

Let sit for 15 minutes or until nice and foamy.

Add 2 cups of the flour and salt. Mix until combined.

Add vanilla and eggs.

Work in the remaining flour and knead with a dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover and let dough rise until doubled in size, about an hour. Make lemon sugar while dough is rising.

Combine sugar and lemon zest.

Back to the dough. Once risen, roll out into a 12 x 20 inch rectangle.

Cut into 5, 4 x 12 inch strips.

Brush butter over a single strip of dough and sprinkle with lemon sugar. Layer a new piece of dough and repeat with butter and sugar. Continue with all five layers.

Cut stack in 2-inch wide pieces.

Place stacks, cut side up, in a floured 9 x 5 inch bread pan.

Cover and let rise until double in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350º for 30 minutes.

Let rest in pan for 15 minutes before inverting to remove loaf.

For lemon cream cheese icing:

Cream together cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon juice.

Finally, ice the loaf, making sure to get frosting goodness in all the nooks.

If my obsession with lemons ever ends, I might also try this with a cinnamon sugar filling …