Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's All About the Lemons

Meyer lemons, that is. Our trees, which normally bear the bulk of their fruit in November and December, with fruit available through February, have been dragging their feet this year. November gave us barely a one, December brought enough for our own use and some special Meyer lemon salt that I make for gifts. In January, they started ripening quickly, which allowed Brilliant Daughter and I to make two batches of lemon curd and to send some up to my Meyer-deprived friend in Seattle (which she kindly blogged about).

But February is the month when we pulled the most fruit, making more lemon curd, sharing with more friends, and cooking and serving everything with lemons: scones, cupcakes, roasted chickens, potatoes, Dutch Babies, salad dressings…. (apologies for not blogging about all these, but I promise I had a good reason.) March is shaping up to be almost as good as February, which brings me to today's post…all about lemons.

It is Butcher Son's birthday. Instead of a simple lemon meringue pie, I decided to try a recipe that Jen over at Eating Plum wrote about several weeks ago. You might remember Jen and her new hubby Jason from my recent post, Interactive Dinner, where they came over to help cook Sunday dinner. Jen and Jason love food. Jen works for Food Buzz (read her recent thrill "My dinner at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon"), as well as writing Eating Plum. Husband Jason recently joined the ranks with his own food blog lovingly called Cooking For My Wife. (A big 'ahhhhh' here.)

Anyway, in her post titled "My Affair with Meyer Lemons," she wrote about a Meyer Lemon Cake that she had made. Now this is a more involved recipe than I normally post, but because it was a special occasion, and I like to spoil my children with good food, I decided I would attempt this cake. Needless to say, I went through 3 mixing bowls, 3 measuring cups, 3 spatulas, 3 pots, an electric juicer, 2 types of electric beaters, measuring spoons, cutting board, and a few other utensils. It also involved folding stiff egg whites into a lemon/yolk mixture, as well as folding in flour, and also the melted butter, resulting in 5 folds in all. If I have a weakness, other than making pie crust, it is the folding of egg whites. I don't know if I am too impatient, or have bad technique, but usually foods of this nature do not turn out quite right. But today I was determined and I think I got it right. Jen had warned that flour lumps could occur, so to minimize this I went to extra lengths. Specifically, after the first flour fold (prior to the first egg white fold), I made sure I got all the lumps out. Then during the first egg white fold, when it was halfway folded, I began sprinkling in flour every 5-6 folds. By gradually adding the flour in small amounts, it appears that you can eliminate the lumping issue. Proudly putting the cake in the oven, I turned my attention to the glaze and candied lemon slices.

The syrup was easy—just lemon juice and powdered sugar, cooked until the sugar melted. (You may need to reheat this a bit if it is too stiff to pour on the warm cake.) The candied lemon slices brought about an unexpected bonus. I wanted all the slices to be perfect, without big seed holes, so I primarily used the outer 1/3 of each side of the lemon, cutting of the ends and slicing thinly. This, of course, left me with lots of center lemon pieces. Waste not, want not. I got out a knob of ginger, peeled it with a spoon (so easy), and cut it into slices. Ginger, lemon pieces, water and a couple of tablespoons of honey went into a pot and cooked for 5-10 minutes. I cool it, strain, and put in the refrigerator for sick days. Reheat and you have a great remedy for colds. Hot, full of vitamin C, sweet with honey and a zing of ginger. We've been lapping this up of late, keeping the cold bugs at bay. Also a byproduct of the candied lemon slices is the simple syrup left once the slices were cooked. Why throw it away? Strain it and put it in a mason jar to use to sweeten hot or cold tea or make lemon drop cocktails. Hmm…I could use one of those right now….


eatingplum said...

So how did the cake turn out? I'm curious! I miss Sunday dinners--can't wait for April!

Hope you are doing well~

J Dogg said...

I'm looking forward to April also, and thanks for the link!

Tea said...

Can you send me a lemon drop, stiff?
I'm having one of those weeks. I might have to fly in for cocktail hour tomorrow night:-)

Mrs B said...

The cake turned out just fine. Shame on me for not saying so. We all enjoyed the flavor, but it is a lot of work (and a lot of mess) for the end result. And April 13th is set for Sunday dinner.

As for you, JDogg, it took me a minute to figure out who you were! You are welcome for the link, keep up the good work.

As for you Tea, you know you are always welcome, Friday night or otherwise. Woulda been a perfect weekend to come, as Mr B is in Colorado! But we will see you next month in Seattle!

heather said...

MMMMMMMMMMMM, Mrs B., You have me positively DROOLING. SO very jealous of your bounty, yet so glad you are not wasing a bit of it. (Wipes drool from keyboard).

heather said...

Hello my Bay area friend! I just wanted to let you know the Best Boyfriend on the Planet took me to San Francisco in mid may and we LOVED it! You are such a lucky lady, living in that wonderful area and lemon trees to boot!!! Hope you are well, miss your posts!

Mrs. B said...

Thanks Heather. I'm working two jobs at the moment and absolutely slammed. Also took on a Healthy Food column over at So my little Eating Suburbia is suffering mightily because of these. I do hope to get back to it shortly. Thanks for checking in. And next time youre in the in the are, shoot me an email and come see my lemon trees.