Sunday, June 19, 2016

Making Friends Lemon Cake

Having become a Soy-Free Vigilante has proved a mixed blessing. On the plus side, I no longer eat real junk food and many of the desserts that I used to enjoy. The drawback is that I no longer eat a lot of real junk food and many of the desserts that I used to enjoy. Good-bye to See's Candy and any type of sandwich cookie - practically any store-bought cookie, really. Even some of the best bakeries on the planet use a soybean oil-based spray to keep their cakes from sticking to the pans.

When life gives you lemons - bake with them! This lemon cake
recipe uses juice, peel, and shreds of zest.
Being a headstrong Sagittarius, I have made it my life's work to ensure that I don't have to deprive myself. Some people collect stamps; I collect soy-free chocolates. While I have discovered many wonderful products by creative and conscientious chocolatiers, I have so far been deprived of the dainties in which I used to indulge that are Everywoman's god-given right. If anyone knows where I can get soy-free chocolate truffles, bridge mix, or chocolate covered cherries, fill me in!

However, going soy-free has happily helped me improve my baking chops. I've branched out to make things like almond macaroons and this little gem of a lemon cake that I've adapted from an issue from last summer of Better Homes and Gardens.

A teaspoon of lemon zest in macaroons
provides a balance to the sweetness of the almonds.
If I had an actual superpower, I always thought it would be taste. I'd be called something like "Gourmet Girl," with a cape woven of herbs and a toolbelt outfitted with a microplaner, a flavor injector, and a magic spherification spoon. So reading recipes is a vicarious thrill, as I imagine flavor, aroma, and even mouthfeel of the finished product. This simple loaf cake did not disappoint in any of these areas, and even proved foolproof when I forgot to add grated lemon peel after the cake had been in the oven for several minutes - neither its late addition nor the time I thought I had over-glazed one of two small loaves has even resulted in a botched cake or cakes. And with oatmeal and extra-virgin olive oil, it's practically a superfood. Well, almost.

I named this my "Making Friends Lemon Cake" because it has successfully broken the ice on several social occasions. People tend to take atypical seconds (including myself!) and many ask for the recipe. It's great to be able to make something that is easy, always comes out wonderfully, and makes everyone happy!

Two's company: Glazing a pair of Making Friends Lemon Cake.

Making Friends Lemon Cake - Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Preheat oven to 350° F and butter a 9X9 square cake pan. Finely zest one lemon and juice 4-5 lemons total (about 8-9 tablespoons). Reserve the peel of one lemon to be cut into thin strips for the glaze.

In a large bowl, whisk together:

2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Add dry ingredients:

1 cup Quaker instant oats, coarsely ground in blender or food processor
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ organic cane sugar
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
lemon zest

Combine ingredients thoroughly with mixer or by hand; do not overbeat. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with a bit of turbinado sugar if desired.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center of cake comes out cleanly. Cool for at least 10 minutes before glazing.

In a small saucepan, combine:

¼ cup organic cane sugar
remaining lemon juice

Bring mixture to a slight boil, dissolving sugar. Remove from heat and add lemon peel from one lemon, cut into thin strips. Gently poke holes into cake with a toothpick, reaching bottom of pan. Drizzle the glaze over the entire surface with a large spoon and arrange lemon peel on top. Dazzle friends, new and old!

Some tips:

1)  I use Meyer lemons – they’re a bit sweeter, but this would be good made with "regular" lemons as well.

2) Baking time may vary depending on your oven and the size of your eggs (not a euphemism!) I only say this because the first two or three times I made the cake, I used extra large eggs and it took 40 minutes. More recently, I used large eggs, which resulted in the cake being done in almost 35 minutes.

3) The original recipe called for a regular-sized loaf pan, but because it is a very crumbly cake, I use a square one for ease of slicing. For gifts, small paper or foil loaf pans are great; just fill them two-thirds of the way.

1 comment:

  1. Great article. Had to look up what a sherification spoon was. Glad you had a link for it, too. Seconds anyone?