For Blackbird I shall be posting a range of lemon recipes. The first is for my standby-for-all-occasions Lemon Sauce Cake. The recipe originally came from the now defunct TV program Burke’s Backyard and years later when I went for a job with the production company Mr Don Burke himself told me that recipe was the most requested in the shows entire history. I think it ran for something like ten years, if not more.
It is a simple butter cake pepped up with some lemon rind and then a simple sugar and lemon juice syrup is poured over the cake as it comes out of the oven. The original recipe gave 1/4 cup measures for the sauce, but I like it pretty moist and 1/2 cup amounts was too much so 1/3 cup was just right. I have only ever made it with the almonds three or four times in the near-on 20 years I’ve made this recipe, but it is lovely with them, adding a nice textural contrast.
It is easy to make, delicious to eat and infinitely comforting for both reasons.
Lemon Sauce Cake
3/4 cup caster sugar
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup caster sugar
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a loaf tin
Cream butter, sugar and lemon rind
Add eggs one at a time
Fold in flour and milk
Pour into tin
Bake for 50 minutes
Mix lemon juice and sugar together in a saucepan, and cook until sugar is dissolved
As you take the cake from the oven skewer a few holes all over the cake and gently pour over the syrup
The first time I made these was sometime in 1988. Then they fell by the wayside for a decade or two. Now it is back in high rotation. It is tart and moreish, and basically impossible to stuff up. It says to cool the base before pouring over the topping but I never do. Maybe it’s a completely different slice if I actually followed that step! Who cares, it is devoured each and every time I make it. It gets made at least once a month in this house and THAT is saying something.
Completing a DBC always makes me puff out the chest and squeal ‘look what I made!’
This month was no different. The lovely Jen from Canadian Baker put the challenge out there – lemon meringue pie. A creation I had wanted to make but always got freaked out by never got around to.
So guess what. Look what I made! Some of my initial thoughts on this recipe:
– the pastry was a delight to work with and I’m going to use it again
– the filling was an absolute CINCH to make and while it was cornflour based, it didn’t have too much of that clag glue consistency or, indeed, taste.
– the meringue – something I make time and time again – threw me. Stupid I know, but I was all ‘is that thick and glossy’ when I know exactly what thick and glossy meringue looks like. So I think I either over mixed it or perhaps undermixed it as it was more dry and aerated. Annoying. I was going to make it again but any dessert with three components and various cooking/cooling requirements need some time allocated, something I have very little of at the moment until the boys go back to school.
– I made 12 tartlets and 9 mini-tartlets – the minis were everyone’s favourite.
– there was a moderate concern about the amount of liquid that came from the meringues, but it seemed to settle down and didn’t impact the pastry or flavour.
– would I make it again? Definitely.
the mini version
Lemon Meringue Pie From Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, Wanda Beaver Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie
For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water
For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar
To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible.
Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.
Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together.
Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk.
Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.
Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll.
On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm).
Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin.
Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm).
Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden.
Cool completely before filling.
To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan.
Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes.
Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together.
Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.
Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick.
Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth.
Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated.
Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined.
Pour into the prepared crust.
Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.
To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.
Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks.
Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.
There is something infinitely comforting about lemon butter. Its sunny colour, its thick dollopy nature, the roundness of it on your tongue with the little kick at the back of your throat from all its lemony goodness.
That said I don’t make it that often because it does require an effort in the form of time. So when I do I tend to double the recipe below and gift it to others. I can now not visit my Dad and SM without taking at least ONE jar of lemon butter with me.
It’s perfect on a dense artisan fruit bread that has been toasted, or dolloped on cheese blintzes, or sandwiched between a sponge with meringue a la Nigella. But really? It’s just best eaten straight from the jar. Spoon optional.
Lemon butter Alan Campion & Michelle Curtis, Campion & Curtis in the Kitchen
4 egg yolks
200g caster sugar
70ml lemon juice
finely grated zest of two lemons
melt the butter in a double boiler
whisk the yolks with the sugar, then add the juice and zest
mix into the butter
stir constantly over heat for about 20 minutes or until thickened
spoon into sterilised jars
Apparently it keeps for three weeks in the fridge, but it never lasts that long in our house.
I figure after all that chocolate and for some, all that thanksgiving feasting, lets have something a little less cloying. I have a deep and abiding love of whole foods – that is lots of vegetables and fruit and whole grains and low-GI leanings. Tahini sits well and truly in that camp and I adore it. This garlicky dip-type paste is divine in its palate thwacking capacity.
Lamb with Garlicky Tahini
1 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 2
1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin, plus more, for garnishing
10 lamb of noisettes, about 1 1/4 inches thick
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt
Put the onion into one large shallow dish in which the noisettes will fit in one layer – or into a freezer bag
Add the oil, lemon zest and cumin
Give a good stir and add the lamb then cover or seal and marinade for as long as you’ve got
Preheat the oven to 210C and put a nonstick or cast-iron pan on the stove
Remove the noisettes from the marinade, brushing off any bits of onion
Sear each side for a minute or two, then transfer to a baking pan and then to the preheated oven
10 minutes should be right for pink (but not bloody) lamb – you may need a bit longer if the meat started off very cold. You will need to check for yourself, obviously, and when cooked as you want, remove to a warmed plate
For the sauce, put the tahini in a bowl and add the garlic and salt
Stir with a wooden spoon, adding the lemon juice as you do – it will seize up here, but don’t worry, because it will loosen
Slowly add some water (I find I can use about 1/2 cup), pouring from a measuring cup, so only a little goes in at a time and keep stirring.
When you have a smooth mixture–the consistency of heavy cream–stop adding water
Put into a bowl with a spoon and sprinkle with the additional ground cumin.
The tahini is spectacular with diced tomato and parsley and some warmed pita chips as a light and nutritious lunch.