Friday, June 02, 2006

lemon cake cravings

Lemon desserts are important here. When I was last pregnant, I was obsessed with cravings for lemon cake, and there is no one like an unemployed pregnant woman for getting to the bottom of such crucial issues as Lemon Cakes of the Bay Area. (And for those of you who have never been pregnant women, believe me, you have no idea what a real food craving is like. I always thought pregnant cravings were the stuff of sitcoms until I became pregnant myself. When you're pregnant, you can wake up in the middle of the night and know that you -- and the people who live with you -- will never be able to rest until you have crammed a particular magical food down your pregnant gullet, and you will not be able to stop thinking about it or shut up about it until it has happened. I'm just glad I wasn't one of those pregnant women who's compelled to go out in the backyard and eat dirt).

So here is the scoop:

There are no lemon cakes for sale in the Bay Area that are sufficiently bold and tangy. None. Oh, there are plenty of lemon cakes for sale, hither and yon, but they are all wimpy and weak when it comes to citric verve.

A person who wants a true lemon cake experience must make her own.

Here is the winning recipe for a real Lemon Experience, the kind that will make you pucker up and say, "Oh, my, now that is tart":

British Lemon Thing (recipe given to me by an English person and not translated into American; you gotta wing it the way I winged it, my remarks in parentheses)

finely grated zest and juice of 4 lemons
3 1/2 oz (100g) butter, softened
6 oz (175) caster sugar (substitute granulated if you don't live near a yuppie enough market)
4 eggs, size 2, separated (I assume Size 2 means large)
2 oz (50g) plain flour
4 fl oz (112 ml) milk

You will need a 7 in (18 cm) souffle dish. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (gotta love those Brits, try 350 F).

Butter dish.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter with sugar to form a creamy, white, fluffy mass which will stand up in soft peaks. Add lemon zest and juice. The mixture will probably curdle at this point. Do not fret, just add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating continuously, then beat in the flour and milk.

With a whisk or handmixer, beat egg whites until firm and standing in snowy peaks. Fold gently but thoroughly into batter. Pour into buttered dish, place the dish into a roasting tin and pour hot water into the tin until it comes up halfway the sides of the dish.

Bake about 45 min., until top is golden brown. Serve hot or warm. Mmmm, sarap!

I'm no longer pregnant, but my girls are both asking for lemon cakes for their birthdays. Oh, my darlings, you do make me proud.

No comments: