Sunday, November 7, 2010

What do you do when life gives you a bowl full of lemons?

I had a bowl full of Meyer Lemons, which recently served as a centerpiece at a dinner party I hosted at our apartment. Now, the lemons were sitting abandoned in a bottom drawer in the fridge.

My first thought was to make a tangy lemon curd tart topped with a glossy Italian meringue. I love lemon curd! Another idea was to bake lemon poppy seed cake – also a favorite homemade treat. But I couldn’t recall seeing poppy seeds at the nearby markets.

I decided I would make a recipe with the simple ingredients I had on hand – Meyer Lemon Pound Cake.

Back in culinary school, I learned this type of loaf cake earned its name because a recipe required one pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs, plus a flavoring like vanilla or lemon. Recipes have evolved over the years to include leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda, sour cream and a myriad of flavorings such as chocolate, espresso, coconut, nuts, dried fruit, etc.

While you can still follow the original method, making a pound cake is fairly simple. A few tips to keep in mind: Remember to have the ingredients at room temperature so they will mix properly. Cream the butter and sugar very well. Slowly add the eggs. Then, add the sifted flour and the desired flavoring.

If you follow these simple steps, you soon will be eating a fine-textured, very lemony piece of pound cake.

I like the pound cake warm, with steam emitting from the center as I cut into the loaf. I’ll also eat it at room temperature or cold. I’m not picky.

However, my husband prefers to dab a bit more butter on his warm slice before he eats it. I told him “do you realize how much butter is already in there?” He just nodded and smiled.

I still have a bunch of lemons left. This week, I’m going to bake a few more test batches of the lemon pound cake until its perfect. I’ll round up some other taste testers to see what they think.

Afiyet Olsun!

Meyer Lemon Pound Cake
(Adapted from “The Dessert Bible” by Christopher Kimball)

8          oz.       (250 g.)            unsalted butter at room temperature
1 ½      c.         (350 g.)            granulated sugar or vanilla sugar*
3          ea.                                zest of Meyer Lemons, finely grated
5          ea.                                large eggs at room temperature**
1 ¾      c.         (260 g.)            Turkish all-purpose flour (use only 1 2/3 c. if in the U.S.)
2          T.                                 Meyer Lemon juice

As needed                               powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C.
2. Grease or pan-spray a standard metal loaf pan. Set aside.
3. Place the butter into a metal mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
4. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the butter turns almost white and is very fluffy, about three to five minutes.
5. Next, add the lemon zest. Then, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated. The batter should look smooth.
5. Add the sifted flour in three parts, folding it into the batter with a large rubber spatula, making sure the batter is well mixed.

6. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 1 hour. The top will split open and be nicely browned. Insert a toothpick or metal cake tester to see if the cake is done. If not, continue baking and check every five minutes. (My cake needed to bake 10 more minutes.)
7. When cake is done, run a knife around the edges and turn out onto a metal cooling rack. Let cool for about 1 hour before adding the glaze.

To make the glaze:
Add approximately, 1 cup of powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Then, slowly drizzle in lemon juice and whisk until the glaze is thoroughly combined. Adjust the consistency of the glaze by adding more sugar or more juice as needed. Pour over the top of the pound cake after it has cooled.

* I make my own vanilla sugar by grinding dried, leftover vanilla beans with granulated sugar in the food processor. Sift to remove the larger pieces. You can substitute vanilla sugar in most baking recipes.
**If the eggs are not at room temperature, place them in a bowl of hot water until they feel warm. Cold eggs could make the batter look grainy and separated.

Also, feel free to substitute the Meyer lemons with regular lemons in the recipe.

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Danielle said...

That last picture is a beautiful shot! Looks delicious too!

Anonymous said...

Vanilla sugar is a great idea. I'll have to try that. This recipe is just in time; the fruit on my meyer lemon tree is ripening as we speak!

Joy said...

Thanks ladies! It's a really great recipe. I enjoyed a slice this morning with coffee for breakfast. Enjoy!