Monday, June 25, 2007

A Celebration of the Lemon

Have you ever heard the saying, “When Life gives you a lemon, make lemonade”? This is good and well because what it means is ‘Make the best you can out of a bad situation’. I don’t know when this saying came about, but the humble Lemon is one of the most versatile fruit with a myriad of uses. Thus the negative connotation associated with the lemon is really invalid. Besides Chocolate, the Lemon is my next favourite ingredient in sweets. The brilliant Lori Longbotham, author of ‘Luscious Chocolate Desserts’ also devoted a whole cookbook to lemons entitled ‘Luscious Lemon Desserts.”

Used in cuisines around the globe, the lemon is a common sight in both the finest produce market and the cheapest corner store, and is essential to haute cuisine as it is to home cooking. Along with its versatility in cooking, the lemon has been known for it’s medicinal powers. In the 19th Century, the lemon was used in treating medical conditions including enlarged spleen; it has been recorded as a treatment for wounds and skin eruptions, a cure for kidney stones and prevention for scurvy.

The lemon has long been used in the home for much more than cooking purposes. For amazing household uses for lemons and lemon juice see here And this book, tells of the extraordinary uses for the lemon, amongst other ordinary things. For example, did you know that you could get rid of mineral deposits and polish chrome by simply rubbing a piece of lemon rind over it? Watch it shine after rinsing and drying with a soft cloth.

Have you ever gone to the fridge to get some lettuce for a sandwich only to find a soggy mess? Don’t throw it out. Add the juice of half a lemon to a bowl of cold water. Then put the soggy lettuce in it and refrigerate for an hour. This will crisp up the lettuce leaves. Make sure you dry the leaves completely before using it.

In the laundry, lemon juice is a safe and effective fabric whitener when added to your wash water. Your clothes will also come out smelling fresh! Now wait for it, you can also use lemon juice to lighten age spots. Before buying expensive medicated creams to lighten unsightly liver spots and freckles, try this: Apply lemon juice directly to the area, let it sit for fifteen minutes and then rinse your skin clean.

Ok, I LOVE Lemon, we have established that, so I won’t get carried away any further. Today I am sharing with you a recipe for Lemon Cake with a Crunchy Topping adapted from ‘Sweet and Savoury Bites’ by Jane Price. This is the first recipe that I have tried from this book and it was absolutely brilliant. In fact, it’s one of the best tasting cakes I’ve made in awhile. Try it and let me know what you think.

Serves 8-10
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes

250g (9oz) salted butter, softened
200g (7oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
4 eggs, lightly beaten
250g (9oz/2 cups) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp lemon juice

110g (3 ¾ oz/ ¼ cup) sugar
60ml (2 fl oz/ ¼ cup) lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F /Gas 3). Lightly grease a 22cm (8 ½ inch) square cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar in a small bowl using electric beaters until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest, then gradually add in the egg, beating thoroughly after each addition. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the combined sifted flour, baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt, as well as the lemon juice. Stir until the mixture is just combined and almost smooth.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the tin and turn out onto a wire rack. To make the topping, mix together the sugar and lemon juice (do not dissolve the sugar), and quickly brush over the top of the warm cake. The juice will sink into the cake, and the sugar will form a crunchy topping. Cool.


Anh said...

I love lemon and all types of citrus fruits, too! Aren't they lovely? I want to grow my own lemon tree when I move to a bigger place!

Your cake sounds wonderful.

Kelly Mahoney said...

It sounds great.

I also am a big lemon devotees -- I especially like lemon with poultry and pork. It tends to bring out the best in the meat by tenderizing and helping marinades get into the meat.

There's even a Mt. Lemmon (pronounced like the fruit) here in Tucson, but I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fruit.

Ming_the_Merciless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ming_the_Merciless said...

OMG, your photos are so amazing!! I was looking at them and thinking these could be from a food magazine. I love the way you "style" your food -- the flowers, the color coordination, etc.

Also, thanks for the great tips on the uses of lemon. I put lemon slices in my water to flavor it. I love lemon poppy seed muffins too.

Cutie said...

You are really good at baking and taking photos. Geez, it looks really yummy. Lemons are just gorgeously delicious if use it for cooking and baking. I love lemon cookies that melt in your mouth.

The Cooking Ninja said...

Your pictures are fantastic so are your baking. They are definitely mouthwatering pictures. If only I could have one of those delicious lemon cakes of yours.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I love citrus flavors and lemons are wonderful - I know it may sound weird but I prefer citrus to chocolate. :)

Your cake looks so good!

Big Boys Oven said...

Love the way you capture those moments through the lens.

Anonymous said...

your cakes are absouletely beautiful.
I could eat them up in a second, yum yum.

MeltingWok said...

I love lemon of all types, especially in cakes like this, thx for the recipe :) Btw, how much more baking powder will I need ? I only have regular flour :(

Sylvia said...

I love lemon too.Since ice cream lemon until the simple limonade.
Your cake looks wonderful.I almost feel the smell right now.Also the photos are amazing.

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

Oh for the love of food! said...

Thankyou! Besides lemon, I love the scent of grapefruit. It's so refreshing!

Lemon compliments seafood too!

Maybe someone will employ me as a food Stylist?? Any connections, Ming? HA!HA!

Thanks so much. I will post a recipe on Lemon Polenta Cookies with Craisins at some point - you will love it!

Cooking Ninja,
Thanks for the compliment. You bake very well too - you won't have any problems with this recipe at all.

Actually, on a hot day, I prefer lemon cakes/desserts as opposed to chocolate ones ;o)

Oh for the love of food! said...

BB Oven,
Thanks Sunny & Sid!

Thanks for stopping by!

Melting Wok,
S, Here's how you make Self-Raising Flour: For each cup of all purpose flour, add 1 1/2 tsps baking powder and half a tsp of salt. Then mix to combine.

Omit the salt if using to bake bread. Hope this is helpful. ;o)

Thanks so much!

Thank you for visiting my blog. Unfortunately, my translation tool only translates my posts, not the comments. Your T-shirt creations are Cool!

Nora B. said...

Beautiful cakes. I am going through a major lemon phrase - i've made lemon peels, lemoncello (still need to wait another 2.5 weeks for it to be ready), marmalade, lemon poppy seed cake, lemon cookies, lemon chicken, and the list goes get the picture. All this in the last two weeks!

Wendy said...

I've always got a bowl full of lemons in the kitchen. Aside from using them regularly in cooking, I also just like looking at them. :)
You have now provided me with lots more uses for them!

Cutie said...

Oh my god, I can't wait for you to blog about Lemon Polenta Cookies. Hehe... Than after that I will try making it. Thank you sooo much... *Hugz*

lynn said...

Your photos are gorgeous and your lemon cakes look amazing. What a wonderful use for lemons!

Helen said...

I can't believe I just found your blog! Looks wonderful...allow me to link you and spend some time reading your archives. Beautiful lemon cakes....but again anyhting lemon or berry or chocolate is my thing!

Anonymous said...

what...did you say one can use lemons to lighten age spots...ohhh I better get gallons of the stuff then...~grin~...great post...lovely cake...really nice...thanks for sharing

Oh for the love of food! said...

Nora b,
Thanks for visiting my blog. I use lemons more than I realize, come to think of it. It's an ingredient in at least 8 out of 10 of my recipes! Hope to see you at this site again.

I sometimes use a bowl of lemons as a centrepiece in the kitchen. They are beautiful aren't they?

You ARE cute, aren't you? HA!HA!The recipe for the cookies will take awhile. I hope you don't mind waiting. I have other recipes that are ready to go and have to be posted first.

Thank you so much for visiting and for the compliments. I really appreciate it!

Thanks so much for your interest in my blog and for your generosity in linking me. I appreciate it. I have visited your blog and it is BEAUTIFUL. Thank you for helping me find you!

Hi again! I hope the lemon works for you. Let me know, won't you?

Belinda said...

Hi Carol - I'm sweet of you to enquire about me :o)

I did have a cold last weekend, but plied myself with loads of vitamins so it was a quick recovery!

Just been busy with work.

Yummy lemons - so refreshing and delish in cakes.

Have a fab weekend and stay warm and dry!


Mandy said...

Lemon is my second favorite food after chocolate too! In fact I have just made a lemon cake yesterday. The tips for soggy lettuce is interesting. I should try it one day. :)And I will definitely try your lemon cake recipe! Can't say no to a great lemony recipe.

MeltingWok said...

gee..silly me, I forgot how many tsp for each cup of flour, thanks !:)
p/s : thanks for the look out, will tell my friend that you're just round the corner, cheers !:)
Have a great weekend now :)

Eggy said...

Hi Carol

I made a lemon tart this weekend using an entire lemon, skin and all. I love lemon. I love lemon more when teamed with chocolate. I served my tart with chocolate sorbet. You cake looks lovely!

Ming_the_Merciless said...

Hi Carol, am doing good. Had some food poisoning yesterday so was up all night feeling bloated and heart burn. My friend who had dinner with me had the same symptoms. Yuck!

Getting ready for my vacation. :-)

Oh for the love of food! said...

Glad to know you have recovered. Maybe when the weather is not so WILD and it's not raining cats and dogs like it is today, we could meet up for a cuppa! What do you think?

Thanks for visiting my blog! Will you be doing a post on your lemon cake soon? :o)

You have a great weekend too!

Your lemon tart and chocolate sorbet sounds divine! Can't wait to read your post on it. This is really strange, I was just about to email you!

Ouch! you poor thing, hope you are all better now. Preparing for a vacation always helps, doesn't it?