Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Nothing like that last post date to burst my fantasy bubble it has "not been that long" since I wrote here.

I am going to blame allergies and more specifically, my allergy medication for that lapse because, well, it is true, and because if you yourself have or if you love anybody who has serious seasonal allergies you know the other side of that truth.  You realistically have to cut a body extra slack when the meds they are taking so they can breathe without sneezing make it so they have to fight to stay upright and awake.

Dinner, coming when it does, requires a bit of extra energy and cleverness be exerted at what is typically the lowest point in any garden variety allergy season day.  I might be hungry, I might not, but what is a given is that as long as there are oak pollen thingies piled on the ground I am scrambling to find one good solid reason not to succumb to the strongest possible urges to begin a nap around 5:45 every afternoon.

So while we have indeed been eating something for dinner every single evening, there was not much in the way of New! or Exciting! to report.

Until yesterday.

Oak season is grinding to a close and we have timidly spent a few hours with doors and windows open to fresh breezes, experimentally confirming our impression that It Might Be Safe To Breathe Outdoor Air again.

Partly to celebrate that, and partly because whenever we get close to May we start talking about ChefSon's birthday and whenever we start talking about ChefSon's birthday the topic of Lemon Cake comes up, LSG decided to forage around on the interweb for a better lemon cake recipe.

And I say "better" because we'd had a favorite recipe for lemon cake previously (Lemon Quick Cake). It had served us well for the better part of three decades but folks it is decidedly old school.  This recipe relies upon a full cup of oil, a box mix, a package of lemon jello plus lemon extract to keep it moist and pack in that lemon flavor.

The old cake only got better upon standing which we rarely were able to test past the three day mark.  It was that lemony delicious.  But.  That said, it was also pretty much exactly the kind of recipe leading to precisely the kind of cooking and eating we aren't indulging in around here any longer.

So long story longer, LSG found a fabulous Barefoot Contessa recipe for a lemon cake that had cropped up on blogs all around the internet, with reportedly delectable results, and the quest for a new lemon cake recipe was potentially at an end.

We made the bundt cake version of the recipe (as you sophisticated types can tell from the photos) and despite all the venting in the comments on some sites, had no problems with the cake absorbing the lemon syrup that was lovingly applied before the glaze went on.  You can find Smitten Kitchen's version of the recipe right here.

Go ahead and check it out.  I'll wait....

Yup, that is correct.  This is a cake with not only three quarters of a cup lemon juice, but also three quarters of a cup of lemon zest in it.  It doesn't stop there though.  This is a cake that also has a lemon simple syrup basted on immediately after coming out of the pan and then is enveloped in a confectioner's sugar/lemon juice glaze.  The lemony goodness in this simply does not stop.  But is all lemon lemon.
No extract.  No lemon gelatin mix.  Just wonderfully bright, tartly sweet natural lemon.

If the old recipe was denoted a Lemon Quick Cake, this might be considered a Lemon Slow Cake.  All that zesting and basting takes a fair amount of time but on this side of the dessert plate, I'd say it is well worth the trouble.  Creaming two sticks of butter with two cups sugar nearly undid our hand mixer but LSG coaxed it all the way to creamy just short of actually burning out that teensy motor.  And we're SO glad she did.

This is one of those recipes I'd read through and probably shrug it off, thinking "too much trouble for me".  But now I have sous cheffed for LSG while she did all the heavy lifting and more importantly now I have tasted the results?  I am one hundred percent sold.

No one step of this recipe is all that difficult and the fact this cake would only improve by being made a day ahead makes it ideal for those take along a cake situations when you want to wow the crowd.  And wow it will, by golly.  Wow it will.

Postscript:  We used up the last of our Meyer Lemons for this project, in addition to a handful of organic lemons bought specifically for this cake.  In this cake recipe, with all that zesting going on, I would recommend only using organic fruit to avoid potentially loading your cake up with pesticide residue.


Kathleen Scott said...

Hi Deb, we're just out of the Tennessee Smokies & catching up. Denny and I both got better away from the oak pollen...maybe next oak season you should take a month on a Caribbean beach for your health (think that would be tax deductible as a medical expense?)

This recipe sounds to die for. But THREE QUARTERS CUP OF LEMON ZEST??? That is truly a cake of love. Next time you make it, can I come by for a teensie slice?

TexasDeb said...

Hmmm - wondering now - who do I know who is a tax attorney specializing in medical deductions.....

Getting the three quarters of a cup of lemon zest passes for an upper body workout. Plus it is a cinch when you have a family member doing it while you watch. My arms hardly got tired at all.

Children's Dentist said...

I know the feeling about using up the last of the supply of Meyer Lemons for a project. I live far away from any reliable source of fresh Meyer lemons so I end up ordering them online at http://www.buy-meyer-lemon.com/ The growers pick them right from the tree for me so I am able to get them fresh. That's nice.
PS. Not only are medical vacations a windfall when it comes to the cost of health care in the U.S. but dental vacations are also a great way to save $$$.