Post #496 Lemons Add Life to Food

August 1, 2016 at 3:04 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #496 Lemons Add Life to Food

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I used boxed cake mixes on occasion.  Sometimes, they’re just the easiest way to go.  They’re consistent, reliable, and mostly, they taste good.  Usually, I use the “perfect size” mixes that make enough cake for two people for two days.  But we had a mix that we’d had for so long it was about to go stale.  It’s French Vanilla flavored which makes it the perfect base for any number of other flavors if I chose to add them.

I did choose.

Partner/Spouse did some grocery shopping on his way home this morning and I had him pick up two large lemons.  See where this is going?  So I made the cake mix in a bundt pan per the directions.  Knowing what I was going to do to the cake, I left it in the oven for five extra minutes with the oven off.  I wanted the cake to be rugged, able to stand up to what I was going to do.

When I took the cake out of the oven, I let it cool in the pan for a few minutes as I finished up the next step.

I made a simple lemon sugar syrup.  It’s very easy, and it can be used for all kinds of things.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Juice from one large lemon
  • Zest from the lemon
  • 1 tablespoon water

In a non-reactive pan, mix all the ingredient together except the zest over medium-low heat.  Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved, then take off the heat.  Add the zest and allow to cool.  Store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.

I left the zest out for the next step in my cake and because it would get in the way of this step of my cake.

While the cake and the syrup were both still warm, and the cake was still in the pan, I drizzled the syrup over the cake so it would seep into the cake.  I wanted the lemon flavor in the cake, but I wanted it distinctive from the cake’s original flavor.  To combat the amount sweetness from the cake and the syrup itself, I used extra lemon juice.

After several minutes, allowing the cake to cool almost entirely, I turned it out onto a cooling rack over a baking sheet.  If there were any dribbles from the syrup, I wanted easier clean up.  But there wasn’t.  So far, my plan was working.

I allowed the cake to cool completely then placed it on my cake plate.  Time for the next and final step.

I zested both lemons and place that aside.  Then I squeezed the juice out of the remaining lemon and used that to make a lemon glaze.

Glazes are simply powdered, or icing, sugar melted into a liquid base.  The more sugar you add, the stiffer the glaze will be, but it will also be sweeter.  You want to constantly test the glaze as you’re making it.  Also, the more sugar you add, the whiter and more visible the glaze becomes.  So if aesthetics are important to your cake, be aware of that.

I put the lemon juice into a glass measuring cup (after straining it, of course) and added the sugar a tablespoon at a time, mixing it with a fork.  I wanted my glaze to run down the sides of my cake, but I also wanted it to adhere to it so I needed a fairly stiff glaze.  But I didn’t want the glaze to be too sweet.  I solved the dilemma by adding sugar until I reached the flavor I wanted, then letting the glaze sit for a few minutes to set up.

Some people will use a spoon or a piping bag to put glaze onto a cake.  By making my glaze in the measuring cup, I have an automatic pouring spout built in.  I went slowly around the cake pouring the glaze in a zigzag pattern to get drips down the outside and the inside of the cake.  I used the last to place “pretty” dribbles in areas that needed it.  Then I sprinkled the zest over the top for decoration.  Then, on a whim, I added just a few colorful sprinkles to give it a festive look with the yellow zest.

What do you think?  Pretty, huh?

lemon bundt cake

All this talk about lemon reminded me of something that happened years ago in my home town.  I was cycling home from work one day and stopped at a fruit stand owned by a friend of mine.  It was a pretty big operation involving the whole family since all the stuff they sold they had grown in their own groves.  I wanted to get a quart of fresh squeezed orange juice to take home.  While I was talking to the younger sister of the guy I was friends with, she handed me a pale section of some citrus fruit.

“It’s the first white grapefruit from our new trees.  You gotta try it.  It’s good.”

“No thanks,” I said.  “I don’t like grapefruit at all.  Don’t like the flavor.”

“This one is really sweet.”

So I took it and popped it into my mouth and bit down.  On a section of lemon!  I sputtered, choked, my eyes teared up, but I managed to swallow it.

“Why would you do that?” I asked when I got my breath back.  Lemon is only meant to be enjoyed in small quantities.

After she stopped laughing, she said, “I wanted to see if you’d really eat it.”




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