08 March 2009

Close of the season


My kitchen was kind of quiet this weekend. Friday I made a quick dinner out of polenta, chard, and fried eggs (which, though sounding kind of atrocious, is actually fantastic and is definitely in my lineup of favorite quick meals), and then we had a Midnight snack down at SUPER TACOS, because, well, who doesn't want a Midnight snack of perfect, spicy-wonderful tacos de chivo?

And then yesterday was a dream dinner in Flushing: bubble tea, soup dumplings, and oh-so many dreamy things at Spicy and Tasty--pork with bamboo shoots, preserved cucumbers, crispy fish dish, stir-fried beef with hot peppers, pea shoots--which certainly seems like a lot of things, but we were five people, and we handily finished it all. Some of us did a better job than others. But when we're talking Spicy and Tasty, well, what I can I say? Dee-lish.

And then today... with the time change and everything, let's just say that we had a late start to the day, and then had leftover lasagna for lunch, and then, well, it was already time for dinner, but not before heading to Fairway to pick up what is probably the end of the season's Meyer lemons.

I love love love Meyer lemons. They are wonderfully fragrant--more floral, and less harsh, than your standard Eureka's that are available year-round. (For a reasonable explanation, see this article.) If they are in season, I will buy them and use them for pretty much everything that involves lemons. But they shine especially brightly in deserts that are lemon-centric: think lemon bars or lemon cake or lemon curd cake or you know, whatever. I will also use them, rather selfishly, for decoration--their zest is somehow richer, and brighter, than that of regular lemons, and they certainly smell great.

So I used mine in a cake, a lemon (lemon) loaf cake, which I adapted from my cookbook of the year, substituting my gorgeous specimens for the regular, and then making only half of the recipe (since two cakes in one sitting certainly seems excessive, no?), and then doubling the zest and giving a little more juice than specified.

(Meyer) Lemon Lemon Loaf

for the (Meyer) lemon cake
3/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch baking soda
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
zest of 2 (Meyer) lemons
1/4 cup fresh (Meyer) lemon juice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the (Meyer) lemon syrup
3 tablespoons cup fresh (Meyer) lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar

Make a cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heavily butter a standard-sized loaf pan, or line with parchment paper.
2. Sift both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
3. Put the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until combined. With the motor running, drizzle the butter in through the feed tube. Add the sour cream and vanilla and pulse until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
4. Sprinkle in the flour mixture, one third at a time, folding gently after each addition until just combined. Do not overmix.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minute, reduce the temperature to 325 degrees, and bake for another 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
6. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.

~Meanwhile~ make the (Meyer) lemon syrup.
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and invert the loaves onto the pan. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and the sides of the loaves.
3. Brush the top and sides of the loaves with the (Meyer) lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake, and brush again. Let the cakes cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

**Note** These loaves, soaked with syrup, will keep, wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap and frozen, for up to 6 weeks.

Spicy and Tasty
39-07 Prince Street
Flushing, NY 11354

Super Tacos
96th St. & Broadway, Southwest corner
New York, NY 10025

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