26 Jul 2011

Evil Cupcakes and Mum's Lemon Loaf

A while back, I had the pleasure of trying something I can only describe as the most evil cupcake I have ever eaten. It was a light white cake topped with white icing. The icing was so light and fluffy it seemed to floated off the top. The decorations, what cupcakes are all about right?, were sparkling diamonds that turned out to be lemon sugar. The tartness and crunchiness of the sugar made the cupcake a treat for the mouth that I haven't experienced in a long time.
I like to bake. I guess more correctly I like to eat baked goods, so I put on my thinking cap. Uhmm .. that sugar tastes like something I've had before ... the glaze on my mother's lemon loaf ... could I dry that glaze and turn it into lemon sugar?
Long story short, yes it can be done but before I tell you how here's my starting point, the recipe for Mum's lemon loaf.
Glazed Lemon Loaf (from the Purity Flour Cookbook)
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease a 9"x5"x3" loaf pan
Sift together
1½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Stir in
½ cups walnuts (optional)
2 tsp lemon zest zest of 1 medium lemon
In separate bowl, cream
½ cup butter or margarine
Beat in
1 cup granulated sugar
Blend in
2 eggs
Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with
½ cup milk + ½ tsp vanilla (vanilla is optional)
Make 3 dry and 2 wet additions. Combining lightly after each.
Turn into pan and bake for 65 to 70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. (The loaf will have also pulled away from the sides of the pan)
Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.
Then drizzle over top a mixture of
¼ cup sugar ½ cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice 4 tbsp lemon juice
Cool completely and then remove from pan.
Honestly this loaf is delicious. It is richer with butter but certainly quite good with margarine. The original recipe has been modified over the years. First, my mother doubled the sugar and lemon juice in the glaze, That may have had something to do with 4 kids competing for the sugary heel of the loaf ... The second modification was made by my brother, the chef, who added ½ tsp of vanilla since Mum loves vanilla. The final modification is mine. I more or less doubled the amount of lemon zest since I love lemon.
Now if you make this I hope you enjoy it as much as we did when were growing up. It has a long slow cook time, very forgiving but, more suited to winter than summer. Its been unseasonably cool here recently, so I made the loaf, along with a double batch of glaze to play with.
Lemon Sugar
mix together
½ cup sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
I kept stirring this until the sugar was pretty much dissolved, all the while debating whether putting
it on the stove would turn it from lemon sugar into lemon candy. In the end, I did not heat it.
I poured the glaze into a large rectangular casserole dish and let it dry uncovered for 24 hours. It
was stirred many times as I walked by worried I was making advanced mud pies, by my husband who walked by and had to taste see how it was doing ... eventually the liquid did evaporate and I was left with lemon sugar. It is a very close approximation to that found on the evil cupcakes. I think if I lived somewhere with higher humidity I would have to use the oven or a food dehydrator but here air drying worked.
When life gives you lemons make lemonade lemon sugar.
1) I used all purpose flour with NO barley. It seems barley, adds extra gluten to baked goods resulting in fantastic bread and biscuits but not so much so for cakes. The flour I use is Whole Foods brand all purpose flour. I believe any brand would work - just read the label. If you are in Canada reading this it is likely not an issue so long as you don't use bread flour.
2) I confess to not owning, and having never used a sifter. Just stir it up with a fork & call it good.
3) When it says cream butter, what that means is the fat should be light coloured and fluffy before you add the sugar. Then beat the sugar in until it is once again light and fluffy. It should look much like whipped cream.