Well, down jackets have been washed, dried and officially put away for the season – finally! I don’t know if winters feel more brutal every year because they are actually getting colder, snowier and endlessly longer or that I’m finally realizing my destiny is to move back to Miami to sit on a lounge chair under swaying palm fronds and a light coating of perspiration. I said “never again” to the latter, but now that I wrote those words it sounds kind of doable. [Read more…]
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might know I have a thing for anything lemon-y. That is, things that contain lemon peel, juice, oil, zest, flesh…
In other words, the very essence of lemon is delicious to me.
I do care deeply for other kinds of citrus, including oranges, but since Meyer lemons are at their peak season right now I thought they might be a good swap for oranges.
Meyer lemons are a cross between a type of tangerine and a lemon, so they have a milder, sweeter bite than the typical Eureka lemon, with a more delicate, thin skin. They are a great choice to use whole – skin, flesh and all – in the batter.
There’s semolina in my version of this cake – it’s the same finely ground durum flour used to make pasta, with a nice mild yellow color that seems to get along with lemon.
And the cake smells incredible while it’s baking, kind of like a pot of spaghetti with lemon sugar all over it. No, not really like that, but it does have an enticing aroma while in the oven.
The resulting crumb is moist. And lemony. So lemony, with just a tiny bit of bitterness from the peel. If you enjoy candied citrus peel, you’ll know the kind of sweet bitterness I’m talking about.
Emiko posted a recipe for an old-fashioned Italian semolina cake on her blog – I would love a bite of that, too.
This cake is baked in a small (sometimes called a "mini" or half-size) Bundt pan. If you don't have that size pan, you can use a 6 - 8 cup fluted pan, but the height of the cake will be shorter.
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Meyer lemons
- ½ cup semolina flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup natural cane sugar or granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- For glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla flavored)
- 1 teaspoon fresh Meyer lemon or plain lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Use your fingers to smear 1 tablespoon butter all over the inside and into the nooks and crannies of a small (3 - 4 cup capacity) Bundt pan (6 – 7 inches in diameter). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the flour into the pan and rotate to distribute the flour in an even coating over the butter. Knock out any excess flour by tapping the pan upside down. This is an important step to ensure your cake doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Cut the lemons into wedges and remove the seeds. Put the lemons in a food processor and process until fairly smooth – it’s okay if some very small pieces of peel are visible – you should have about 1 cup.
- In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1 cup flour together with the semolina, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
- Beat the remaining stick of butter with the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy; beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Add the lemon puree to the mixer and beat until combined; add the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Spread the batter evenly into the Bundt pan; bake 40 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick emerges from the cake with a few moist crumbs. Cool the cake in the pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
- To make the glaze, stir together all the ingredients until smooth; add 1 teaspoon or more water to reach a thick but pourable consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and let it set before slicing.
Inspired by Whole Orange Cake
And then my day happens. The butter sits there until dinner time, looking all sad and flaccid. That’s when I face the fact that there’ll be no baking today, again. I heft the book back upstairs for some bedtime reading, and I fall asleep dreaming of French Yogurt Cake.
I think the only reason I got around to making this cake today is that I had a half-cup of Total Greek yogurt left in the container, which is just exactly the required amount for this cake. So I seized the moment!
There are a few very nice things about this cake:
1. You don’t need to soften butter.
2. There is no electric mixer needed.
3. You have to massage lemon zest into a bowl of sugar.
If you’ve never rubbed lemon zest between grains of sugar, you haven’t lived. It’s smells way better than that aromatherapy pillow I get to wear around my neck while I’m getting a pedicure.
Dorie’s recipe calls for a lemon marmalade glaze, but I didn’t have any lemon marmalade, so I took her suggestion and topped it with a mixture of crème fraiche, lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar. Somehow that makes it seem really French. She also says this cake is even better the next day. Great! I’ll have a thick slice with my tea while I dream about my next baking project.
Adapted from Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan.
The author describes this simple cake as a cross between pound and sponge cake.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds, or substitute another 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
1/2 cup crème fraiche
2-3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Center an oven rack and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a standard loaf pan and place on a baking sheet.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, almonds, baking powder and salt.
Put sugar in a large bowl with the zest and rub with your fingertips until sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla and whisk until blended. Whisk in the oil. Add the flour mixture and fold with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Scrape the batter into pan and bake 50 – 55 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer pan to a rack and cool 5 minutes. Run a blunt knife around edges before unmolding onto a rack to cool, right side up.
Combine crème fraiche, sugar and lemon juice and spoon over cake.