Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake

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Before I began baking, lemons weren’t a central part of my life.

I didn’t need them in my fridge. I didn’t use the zest. And I wasn’t that concerned if I didn’t get every drop of juice out of them.

Now that I am an avid baker… lemons are a must in this house. You never know when you’ll need one or a dozen. I used the juice for cakes, the zest for cookies and the sad remains to deodorize my cutting board and disposal.

Waste not, want not… right?

This pound cake is the perfect example of not wasting anything from this wonderful fruit. It uses everything… juice, zest, pith, everything!!

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Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Adapted from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Yields 1 loaf

For the cake:
1 & 1/2 lemons (do NOT use 2 whole ones, it will be very bitter)*
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

For the lemon glaze:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

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Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.

1. Using a sharp knife, remove the little green stem from the lemon skin. Cut the lemon into 8 pieces.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the lemon pieces (skin and all!) and 1/2 cup of the sugar until pureed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, so that no large lemon skin pieces remain.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Stir in the lemon pulp. whisk in the melted butter to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds to combine. Sprinkle over the lemon mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold until just combined.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes before unmolding the cake onto the rack for glazing.

6. For the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice, and sugar at a high simmer. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until reduced by half.

7. Using a pastry brush, brush the hot glaze all over the cake while it is still warm.

The cake keeps tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Defrost still wrapped at room temperature.

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* If you don’t already have a use for the other half of the lemon consider slicing it and adding it to a chicken or salmon dish. Or deodorize your wooden cutting boards (sprinkle your board with salt and scrub with the lemon half). Or deodorize your garbage disposal (put 1 cup of ice and half a lemon in your garbage disposal and let it run, rinse with cold water).

SMS – Speakeasy! My pick, dang!!

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STOP THE PRESS!!! I’m here, I’m here!!

No I haven’t forgotten you. Yes I’ve been a bad blog mommy. Yes, I’m here to make it up to you… with cake!!

When I got the email about me hosting an SMS post the first thing that popped into mind was “Dang! it’s about TIME!” *jumps for joy* Then it was intermittently followed by “Gosh, what do I choose?!” *panic*

I did want to pick something tasty, simple with seasonal/staple ingredients and no allergens. Did I succeed? I’m not sure, you tell me 😉

With the national day of looooove (read: Valentine’s Day) just around the corner, I felt the need to gussy this bad boy up. And tweak it, cus that’s how I roll.

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I halved the recipe and made it in three 4″x4″ heart shaped springform pans, subbed Bailey’s for the Brandy and baked for 35 minutes. My cakes were about as temperamental as a teen during that time of the month… you see, they would rise beautifully and then I would discover a HUGE space between the top of the cake and where the cake actually was. I think I either over mixed the egg whites or over mixed the batter when adding the egg whites. Either way, my quick fix was cutting off the empty top shell and flipping the cake (which yielded in a pretty thin cake). I double drenched the cake in the ganache topping to make sure I had a nice thick and shiny coat. Topped with some lightly sweetened whipped cream (the cake provides plenty sweet) and a sprinkle of orange zest, this cake makes a wonderful V-Day dessert for that special someone. Or heck, make it for yourself. You deserve it!!

This cake is indulgent in every sense of the word: tender, moist, rich and chocolatey. So grab a fork, close your eyes and sigh with happiness.

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Speakeasy
Adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Yields one 8″ cake

FOR THE CAKE:
6 ounces best-quality semisweet (58%) chocolate (I used 50% German chocolate, yum!!)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup Brandy (I subbed Bailey’s. Rum works too!)
4 large eggs
1-1/3 cups sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
6 ounces best-quality semisweet (58%) chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

BEFORE YOU START:
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly butter an 8×2-inch round cake pan (springform works nicely here). Line the bottom with an 8-inch round of parchment paper.

TO MAKE THE CAKE:
1. In a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering, not boiling, hot water, melt the chocolate with the butter and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the brandy until smooth. Set aside to cool.
2. Separate the eggs. Place the yolks in a large mixing bowl, and the whites in an electric mixer bowl.
3. Add half of the sugar to the bowl with the yolks and whisk until thick. Add the chocolate mixture to the yolks and whisk to combine. Sift the flour, cinnamon, and salt over the chocolate batter and stir to combine.
4. In the bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, make a meringue by whipping the egg whites until foamy. In a slow steady stream, add the remaining sugar. Whip until the whites hold stiff but not dry peaks.
5. Briskly stir one-third of the meringue into the chocolate mixture to lighten the batter. Gently fold the remaining two-thirds of the meringue into the batter until no streaks remain.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Spin the pan to level the batter. bake for 80 to 90 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. (Do not do the skewer test until the cake has ben baking for at least 70 minutes or you will deflate the batter!) Remove to a wire rack (I used a cookie rack over a baking sheet lined with foil) to cool before glazing.

TO MAKE THE GLAZE:
1. When the cake is cool enough to glaze, coarsely chop the chocolate and place it in a medium bowl.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the heavy cream until scalding, or until the cream is steaming and tiny bubbles have formed along the edges. Do not boil.
3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Stir in the corn syrup.

TO COMPLETE THE CAKE:
1. Place the cake upside down on a rack set over the prepared cookie sheet.
2. Pour the glaze over the cake, letting the glaze spread itself. You may have to push it over the sides a bit, and use a small metal spatula or butter knife to smooth the sides. Try not to touch the top though, so it will be glossy and unmarred. Let the glaze set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Once the glaze is set, transfer the cake to a serving plate.

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PRO TIP FROM MELISSA: Whenever I have a batter that uses a meringue or whipped egg whites for leavening, I am not all that gentle with the first addition. The base, in this case the chocolate-yolk mixture, tends to be heavy, and the first addition of the meringue acts as a liaison, lightening the batter enough so that the rest of the meringue is accepted into the batter more easily, and can therefore retain maximum volume. So just get that first addition in however you can, then be gentle and fold the remaining meringue in properly.

SMS – Strawberry Muffins with Fresh Lemon and Rosemary

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Rosemary makes my heart skip a beat. I don’t know what it is about that spice but it’s powerfully aromatic and strong flavor sets my taste buds alight.

The pairing of rosemary and strawberries seemed a bit odd to me but I figured this was one muffin I wanted to try.

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These muffins worked out pretty well this time. Usually the dough is thick and heavy and much too dry and dense to be considered muffins but the baking fairy must have waved her magic wand because these were moist and fluffy. Although, I have realized that I’m not a big fan of chunky strawberries in my baked goods. Next time I think I’ll puree them and fold it in at the end.

The flavor pairing is weird but it works! If you’re feeling adventurous, try these!

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For the recipe, head on over to Shandy’s blog Pastry Heaven. While you’re there, oogle her baked goodies. They are drool-worthy!

SMS – Crustless Ginger Custard Pumpkin Pie

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Boy oh boy do I loooove pies.

Just not 4 pies in 4 weeks. “Hm, how to make this easier on myself,” I thought. And then it came to me: skip the crust, make a smaller amount and put it in ramekins! Genius!!

And that’s exactly what I did.

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If there are too many flaky, sinful, buttery, pies in your  life right now (as if that could ever be a BAD thing) and the idea of making one more pie makes you want to hurl your pie plate right through your kitchen window… then follow my lead and take it down a notch, or four. Here’s what I did to ensure the safety of my own pie plate:

• made 1/4 of the recipe
• subber ground ginger and cinnamon for the fresh ginger and cinnamon sticks.
• baked in 2 ramekins until set

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See? Easy-peasy lemon squeezey. Even thought lemons have nothing to do with this… but I digress.

This custard filling is SO tasty and I love it SO much that it is going to be the pumpkin pie this year at the Thanksgiving table. Along with 2 other pies, a cake, and cookies that I will be slaving over. But that’s a ramble for another day 😉

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For the recipe, head on over to Debbie’s blog Every Day Blessings of The Five Dee’s. Thanks Debbie for choosing this wonderful recipe!!

Up next week: Strawberry Muffins with Fresh Lemon and Rosemary. And I already have them made! Woohoo for being on top of things!

SMS – Fluffy Coconut Cake with Passion Fruit Filling

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I’ve been wicked short on time as of late. I’m surprised that I even got at least SOME of this recipe under my belt before my proverbial plate filled up.

And as you guessed it, I’m short on time now… so I won’t keep you too long!

I was under the impression that this cake was a coconut cake. I was finished mixing the batter when I realized that there was not coconut, well, ANYTHING! Thinking I’d missed a step, I re-read the recipe and saw that it was the frosting that was coco-nutty.

Ehhhh no thanks.

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So to save on time (and sanity) I quartered the recipe, made them cake into cupcakes, cut a hole on top to fill with apricot jam and topped with cream cheese frosting.

The cake was indeed fluffy and tasty (extra vanilla-ish because I used vanilla soy milk in place of the regular milk) but I’m not much of a frosting person so I ate them plain.

For the recipe for the cake, filling and frosting… head on over to Karen’s blog, Karen of Karen’s Cookies Cakes & More.

Up next week: Peanut Brittle.

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SMS Semi-Rewind – Plum Preserves

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Sometimes I feel like I have no idea what is going on around me. Not in a ditzy kind of way… but in a ‘omg, I didn’t know we had plums’ kind of way.

I realize that this may make absolutely NO sense to you, and that’s ok.

Bottom line, plums are pretty much WAY past their prime (read: moldy) round these parts and I ‘knew’ that we didn’t have any at home, therefore I sadly didn’t make these preserves last Sunday.

Monday I go rummaging for an apple in the crisper drawer and lo and behold… there were 5 neglected, semi-soft plums just about on their way out. Jam, here I come.

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Now I realize the way I described the plums may be less than, well… appetizing. But in my head I figured that they were going to be broken down into mush anyhow so it didn’t really matter, right? Plus riper = sweeter. And I love the sweeter things in life, don’t you?

Let me end this post by noting that I had NO IDEA that making jam could be THIS easy!! Why didn’t someone tell me sooner?! Gah, can I count on you people for ANYTHING? 😉

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But in all seriousness, do you have a few plums (and raspberries that I sadly didn’t have), an apple, a lemon, 2 cups of granulated sugar, a pot and a spoon? Yes? Well then you can make this jam. SERIOUSLY!! Just don’t forget to take pictures of the finished jam like I did. Doh!

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A special thank you to my dear friend Margot of Effort to Deliciousness for choosing this recipe. You have made my mom very happy 🙂 Head on over to her blog for this recipe and snag a couple extra great ones while you’re there 🙂

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SMS Rewind – Double Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

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Sometimes when I feel a bit antsy or stressed even, I’ll rummage through my pantry. Then I’ll stand at my bar drumming my fingers on the counter. Then I’ll proceed to my bookcase to skim over the books that I have never even baked from yet. Then I’ll grab Sweet Melissa’s book…

And bake these cookies.

I’ve made these a plethora of times. You know, cus I am never really able to sit still. And so begins the cycle.

These cookies really are lovely. If you love dark chocolate as much as I do, it is imperative(!) that you make these cookies! If you’re  not too hot for dark chocolate, you can use whatever cocoa powder/chocolate chip combination you’d like!

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Everyone who has ever tasted these (save for ONE) has absolutely loved these. They are chocolate nirvana, chewy centered, crispy edged wonderful bites of joy!

Be sure to underbake these just a tad for chewiness, mine were done at 12 minutes (rather than the suggested 14). Leave them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and then remove them to a wire rack to come to room temperature. But me, I like these cookies warm with milk… really hits the spot after a fidgety day 😉

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You can find the recipe here!