Thursday, June 13, 2013

lemon lemon cake: unabashedly lemonly

I love lemons.

If I could eat lemons the way I eat oranges, I would. My favourite sweets used to be Super Lemons. Remember them?

Seeing that I can't really eat lemons like a fruit, the next best thing is to use lemons to make something  with - ice cream, cakes, sorbet, jellies... the list goes on.

The thing about making cakes with lemons was that more often than not, I could taste a hint of lemon, and that was about it.

Well, that was, until I chanced upon this recipe. If you are a lemon-lover, this is the cake for you. The lemon packs a good punch, yet you do not feel over-whelmed by it (not face scrunching).

In addition, I am normally wary of pound cake recipes. 9 out of 10 times, I ended up being disappointed because the cake was too dry. Not here. By brushing the cake with the lemon syrup so that the syrup was soaked into the cake, it was kept moist. Dense, but still so moist. HMMMM :)

Before I elaborate on how to make this cake, I have to digress and talk a little about lemons. There are lemons and there are lemons. The best lemons have got to be Meyer lemons. If you can find them in Singapore, buy the entire lot! They are so difficult to find! If not, then stick to whatever organic lemons you can find - because the recipe calls for a lot of zest, so use lemons that are free of chemicals or pesticides.

The measurements of the quantities of lemon (zest, juice) needed are also given in tablespoons or cups or in metric units. Lemons vary in size (as can be seen in the picture above by the humongous lemons my Mother-in-law grows), so this gives a more accurate measurement.

This is a food processor cake. I am sure you can also make it using a cake mixer or by whisking with a hand whisk, but since I have a food processor, I used it.

The eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice were all placed into the food processor. (I made 2 cakes, hence I used 8 eggs).

And pulsed until they were combined.

With the motor running, the melted butter was drizzled in through the feeding tube.

Then I added the vanilla extract and sour cream and pulsed until everything was combined.

The mixture was transferred into a bowl, and the sifted dry ingredients were added, one-third at a time, and using a hand whisk, I carefully folded it into the mixture.

Do not over mix.

The batter was poured into the loaf pan (9-by 5-by 3 inch), which had already been greased and lined, before being baked.

Meanwhile, make the lemon syrup by heating, in a medium saucepan, the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar had melted. Once the sugar had dissolved, continue to cook the mixture for 3 more minutes, then set aside to cool.

Once the cake had been baked, allow it to cool in the loaf tin for about 15-20 minutes before turning it out (with the bottom of the cake facing up) onto a cooling rack lined with baking paper (I forgot to use baking paper).

With a skewer, poke holes in the bottom of the cake.

Using a pastry brush, brush the top and sides of the cake with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake, then brush again.

The cake was then allowed to cool completely before being inverted.

In the meantime, make the lemon glaze by whisking the lemon juice with the icing sugar until you get a thick, but pourable consistency. If the glaze is too thick, add some lemon juice, and whisk. If it is too runny, add more icing sugar before whisking.

Drizzle the glaze over the cake and allow it to drip off the sides.

The lemon glaze was allowed to harden (about 15 minutes) before the cake was cut and served.

Great with a cup of tea. :)

Lemon Lemon Cake (Serves 8)
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

For the Lemon Cake
3/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 cups caster sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbl lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
25ml fresh lemon juice
225g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Lemon Syrup
40ml fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

For the Lemon Glaze
1 cup icing sugar, sifted (more if needed)
2-3 tbl fresh lemon juice

To make the Cake
1. Preheat oven to 170C, line and grease a loaf tin (9x5x3inches)
2. Sift the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Set aside.
3. Put sugar, eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until combined.
4. With the motor running, drizzle the butter in through the feed tube.
5. Add sour cream and vanilla extract and pulse until combined. Transfer into a larger bowl.
6. Add flour mixture (one-third at a time) and fold into batter using a hand whisk. Do not overmix.
7. Bake 45-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake emerges clean.
8. Cool 15-20 minutes, inverted onto baking sheet.
9. Poke holes in the bottom of the cake with a skewer.
10. Brush bottom and sides of cake with lemon syrup. Allow the syrup to be absorbed by the cake. Brush again.
11. Cool completely.
12. Invert cake so the top is facing up. Drizzle lemon glaze, allowing the glaze to drip down the sides.
13. Let glaze harden before serving.

NOTE: The soaked but unglazed loaves will keep for up to 3 days, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

To make Lemon Syrup
1. Heat lemon juice and icing sugar over medium heat.
2. Once sugar has dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes.
3. Set aside to cool slightly.

To make Lemon Glaze
1. Whisk lemon juice and icing sugar. The mixture should be thick but pourable.
2. If the glaze is too thick, add some lemon juice, and whisk. If it is too runny, add more icing sugar before whisking.

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