Baked Sunday Mornings: Lifting the spirits with Lemon Lemon Loaf

When considering the rightness of the Universe, one can look no further than the timing of the lemon. The depth of winter — this year,= dark, cold and freezing from coast to coast — is the height of lemon season. Bright citrus of all kinds, lead by the lovely lemon, proliferate in the months when we need their light and their flavor and their Vitamin C boosts. 

Here in Northern California, many of us enjoy the bounty of the winter citrus season with the sweet, uber-juicy Meyer lemon. I have some dwarf trees of my own that I nurture and harvest fruit from, and I have friends, neighbors and colleagues who, thankfully, also share their crops. I will never turn down a lemon, particularly if it is a Meyer.

The Meyer, said to be a long ago cross of a citron and a mandarin-pomelo hybrid, is a softer-flavored and softer-skinned lemon of deep, buttery gold, usually larger than standard lemons and containing three to four times the amount of juice, which, among its many notes, tastes sweetly floral.

When I am blessed, I use Meyer lemon nearly every day (believing in its potency to cleanse by sipping it squeezed into warm water) in drinking and cooking, I’m always excited to bake with Meyer or any lemons, and the Lemon Lemon Loaf on the Baked Sunday Mornings recipe schedule was chockfull of  this favored citrus, from the zest and juice in the cake to the syrup and glaze that enhanced it. If one has lemons, make poundcake — or cakes, as it were, since this recipe made two loaves!

To begin making the recipe (which can be found in “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito or at the Baked Sunday Mornings website, I zested, then juiced a combination of Meyer and standard lemons (almost a cup of juice would be needed for all the components of the cakes).

Many of the ingredients for the cake batter (namely the wet components and the sugar) were assembled and mixed in the food processor. With a whopping eight eggs, a pound of butter and some sour cream, this was sure to be a rich, moist cake.

Equal amounts of cake and all-purpose flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt were sifted together then folded into the wet ingredients in a large bowl. It seemed a massive amount of batter for two loaf pans, and I was concerned that it might be too much.

Actually, it was a perfect amount of rich golden batter for my two Fire King glass loaf pans. I was excited to get them into the oven.

The loaves came out a beautiful golden brown. Their tops were somewhat flat…more like cake than bread, and I was actually please with this squarish evenness and assumed it was the correct result.

While the cakes cooled a little, I made the syrup, which was equal amounts of lemon juice and sugar, cooked briefly.

I love the method of using a toothpick to poke holes in cakes and breads for better absorption of a delicious syrup. I liberally scored receptor cavities all over the cakes.

I brushed the cake with the sweet-tart lemon syrup a few times, over the top and along each side. It gave the cakes a glistening sheen that made them beautiful to leave as-is,

However, once the cakes were completely cooled, I added more gilding with a simple lemon icing made of confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice (maybe this cake should be called “Lemon Lemon Lemon Loaf”?).

The cakes were pretty enough, but I decided to do a little more decoration with some of the yummy, sweetened, dried lemon slices I found at Trader Joe’s (they have orange, too). 

The cakes were beautiful and sliced perfectly. The texture seemed to be dense, but rightly so, with a fine consistency (which could have been the cake flour) that was still sturdy, yet perfectly moist. The first bite was just the right amount of tart from the veneer of lemony syrup: the cake itself was a melting blend of butter-meets-lemon. This was well-worth using precious lemon gold. I’d put one cake in the freezer…I already longed for it.

Blogger’s Note: Find the recipe for Lemon Lemon Loaf at Baked Sunday Mornings

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