Monday, April 2, 2007

A Week of Lemons

When your eyes are open to it, inspiration is all around you. Even at Costco. I know some people hate shopping at the huge, impersonal warehouse, but I love it. It's like a treasure hunt, never knowing what you'll find. Of course this attitude can lead to heart arrhythmia when it's time to check out, but I think it's important to stay open to the possibilities.

This past weekend I was innocently walking past the produce section and there it was. A 4 lb. clamshell of Meyer lemons. Now, I'd never even heard about Meyer lemons until a week ago when I read a blog extolling the virtues of Meyer lemons. I promptly put them in my cart and headed home, chuckling over my find. When I told my long-distance sister about them she said matter-of-factly, "Oh, yes, Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic. They're wonderful." Geeze, you'd think she could have let me in on the secret a few years ago!

Well, lemons in hand I was determined to make the most of the opportunity and not let any of them go to waste, hence the week of lemons. I have a full roster of lemon recipes to try out and blog about, all before the lemons go bad. If you'd like to bake along, head to Costco and grab a pack of Meyer lemons before they're all gone!

First up to bat is a wonderful cake, similar to a pound cake, but much moister. The slices are a perfect accompaniment to morning coffee or a lovely, sweet note on which to end dinner. I've been finding, though, that my family has no compunction about nibbling on it all day long. I adapted a recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home and it was an easy, tasty way to start off Week of Lemons.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 extra-large eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest (about 4 Meyer lemons)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-1/2 x 4-1/4 - 2-1/2 inch loaf pan. (Don't fret if it's not exactly that size. There's surprising variance between loaf pans, and if it's close to that, it will work.) Line the bottom with parchment paper. (Don't skip this step. It's the difference between a show-stopping dessert and a heap of crumbled cake.) Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one small bowl. In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean. (Use the cake tester to avoid disappointment - you don't want your beautiful cake to drop in the center like a Florida sinkhole.)

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Place the cake in the pan on a cooling rack over a sheet pan and pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to lift the cake away from the pan and allow the syrup to penetrate the sides. When all of the syrup has soaked in, take the cake out of the pan, remove the parchment paper from the bottom, and cool on the cooling rack. (I didn't use all the syrup. I had about 2 Tbsp left and just used that in the glaze.)

For the glaze, combine the confectioner's sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.


Anonymous said...

Ahhhh... Lemon yougurt cake sounds so
good! I love it, Lynn!

Sean said...

Ah-hah, one of your classics. This one is rarely around long enough to even get close to having a chance of getting stale. Well, assuming it's the same lemon-type cake I remember.

Alpineberry Mary said...

Meyer lemons are practically the only fruit that can grow well in my very temperate climate (San Francisco). I love the use of yogurt with citrus in cakes. Your cake looks totally yummy.

Anonymous said...

My Dad LOVES lemon pound cake and this sounds delicious so I will have to venture making this one for him.

**doffs her cap and vanishes**

Anonymous said...

I just love learning this baking tidbits. I had no idea there were sweeter lemons. My mouth has been watering as I have read this entry.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Emily, it is delicious. Perhaps you can persuade your mother to help you make it. I know your family would enjoy it.

Sean, actually, no, this is a brand new recipe for me.

Mary, Thanks for the kind words. How blessed you are to live with lots of Meyer lemons.

Gabe, You are really, really good to the people you love. I hope your dad loves it.

Dianne, when are you going to come over for a baking day, my friend?

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. This is one of the best cakse I've ever eaten. When I did the shots of these and I took a bite of the piece I cut, I honestly orgazmo ate it all by my self, it was that good. Two thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

Patti - I'm glad you tried this. I' ve been eyeing it and wondering if it would be gummy, but have never committed to trying it.