Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Year end vacationing and lemon cake baking!

I love Decembers, the weather is lovely, everyone seems to be in a festive mood and most importantly I get my annual leave of two weeks in this month. In 2015, husband and I wanted to experience a real winter so we took off  to the Himalayas. We spent an idyllic week in freezing cold Uttarakhand taking long walks, relaxing for hours in front of the fire and waking up to the sounds of nature and breathtaking views of the mountains.

On the way back from Almora we stopped at a local fresh fruit and vegetable market and I spotted this gorgeous stall with huge, bright yellow lemons. Now I am not a big fan of lemons or sourness in my desserts but something about these lemons called out to me and I hauled one, just one giant lemon all the way from the Himalayas to Hyderabad.

Now that this lemon had reached my kitchen I needed to find a recipe that made it the star of the dessert. I was saved by this beautiful recipe from The Kitchn and I made it almost exactly as it is except that I substituted the cake flour with regular all purpose flour.

What you need:
For the cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • Zest from 4 small lemons (careful to not scrape of the white part of the lemon)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the glaze:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice (no added sugar) 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C: Prepare two 8x4-inch loaf pans with parchment. You can make half the recipe with just one loaf pan which is the perfect size for me. 
  2. Whisk together the buttermilk and lemon juice in a measuring cup. 
  3. Beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest: Start on low speed and gradually increase to medium-high once the butter and sugar are incorporated. I use my Kitchen aid which works wonderfully well, but a hand held mixer does the job just fine also. Continue beating until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. 
  4. Mixing on medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one, and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. After adding all the eggs, add the vanilla. Scrape down the bowl. 
  5. Combine all the dry ingredients and add some of the mixture and beat on low speed until just barely incorporated. Add some of the buttermilk mixture and continue alternating between adding the flour and the buttermilk, beating slowly between each addition and ending with the last of the flour. 
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pans and smooth the tops. I topped mine with some white chocolate chips because I love how they taste when they are caramelised and toasty. 
  7. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven, start checking at 50 I would say. Rotate the pans once during baking. Bake until the cakes are deep golden on top, your whole house is smelling sweet from the baking and the cake has a crack on top running right down the middle. A tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  8. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Lift the cakes from the pans using the parchment paper and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely. 
  9. Glaze the loaves: About an hour before serving, whisk together the ingredients for the glaze — it should be thick but pourable. My lemon was not sour enough to add the punch that is required to this rather rich cake so I substituted it with orange juice. I must tell you that the glaze will not be super white because of the orange juice but it adds a lovely kick! Add a little more liquid or a little more sugar if needed to thin or thicken. Spoon the glaze over the cakes and allow to set.
This beauty keeps well for a week under refrigeration and is perfect accompanied with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

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