Friday, January 24, 2014

Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake

Lemon Bundt Cake
Lemon Bundt Cake
Have you heard how cold it is outside? Have you felt how cold it is outside? Before the snow, the kids had a few days off of school for Martin Luther King Day. With lots of time to stay up and sleep in late, I did manage to catch up on my Downton Abbey episodes. And, oh, how I've been sucked right back in to the British drama!

I would say it's my secret shame if I didn't know so many who look as forward to the season premieres as I do.  When my husband asked me to explain what this show is about and why is everyone talking about it, I tried my very best to explain and be as brief as possible. That was impossible. The words that came out of my mouth...backstabbing and vindictive staff, the daughter who defies tradition to marry the chauffeur, heirs dying in the Titanic, the "ugly" daughter being jilted at the altar, and then finally happiness crushed after a baby is born when the father and only heir to Downton Abbey is killed in a car accident.  Oh! I forgot the one where the eldest daughter gets it on with a man who dies in her bed. And, of course, the horrible death of poor Sybil during childbirth. Good Lord! It sounds too ridiculous when said out loud, and I felt ashamed for not being able to get it off of my mind.  Gary listened to my plot synopses and then said, "So you're saying this is just a high-brow British soap opera?" Well, yes, I am! But, it IS Masterpiece Theater and they do sound fancy with their accents.  It makes me feel a little more justified to watch and then look forward to the next Sunday, thinking about the characters all week long. Right?

Well, after watching Matthew being killed at the end of last season, I said it was too much.  I would not fall for it again.  Yet, there I sat glued to the 2-hour premiere just to see how Mary would adjust to life without Matthew.  How would they cope? Would it be just a sad and pathetic melodrama now without anyone able to find happiness? It actually wasn't too bad so I clicked to the next episode listed on my DVR.  And, do you know what? I sat and looked at Bates and Anna, saying to myself that they really looked way too happy.  Too blissful.  Too content.  Too smiley.  Tragedy is about to ensue. And, whoa, did it! Argh! What to do with them! How will they cope? How can Anna cut him off like that? She has to tell him the truth. Poor Anna.  And, by the way, you know something bad will happen to the relationship between Edith and this newspaper guy. When will these people be happy? Rosamunde's words to Edith foreshadowed unhappy times ahead yet again for the doomed Edith. I can't wait until Sunday!

So now I am all caught up and feeling very British in my thoughts.  I must have hot tea with milk to battle the cold outside. Alas, I do not have staff downstairs to fix my tea and cake.  I would love one of those ribboned bells to ring and say, "Carson, would you be so kind as to bring me some tea. I'm going to take a lie-down now."

Instead, I will fix my own tea and bake a delicious cake to go with it. And, what goes better with hot tea than a very moist lemony cake.  'Tis the season for Meyer Lemons, you know.  I bought a bag at Trader Joe's the other day and can't get enough of their shiny yellow skins and fragrant citrusy smell.  I had to make something with them. As if Pinterest heard me, I came across a pin for Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake by Une Gamine dans la Cuisine (http://www.unegaminedanslacuisine.com/2013/12/meyer-lemon-bundt-cake.html).  Valerie has created the perfect bundt cake using Meyer lemons with a sugary lemon glaze, infusing the cake with more lemony goodness. It was the perfect idea for a snowy day and my Downton Abbey tea.  I changed a few things in the recipe, forgoing the infused lemon syrup.  I also substituted vanilla in place of the almond extract simply because I was out of almond extract and snowed in for the day.  I will try it her way the next time because I just love the flavor of almond extract in cake. I then added Grand Marnier to the lemon glaze.  Delicious! For Valerie's recipe, simply click the link above and go directly to the recipe.  For my take, check out the recipe below.  It yields a very moist burst of spring right in the middle of a bitterly cold winter.
Lemon Bundt Cake
Lemon Bundt Cake with Glaze

For a print-friendly version of the recipe, click: https://sites.google.com/site/lemonbundtcake/

Ingredients:
2 cups granulated sugar
3 Meyer Lemons
1 cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from your 2 lemons)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier (you can use vanilla)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a Bundt cake pan.

Grate the lemon peel for two of your lemons.  Place the granulated sugar and lemon zest into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer.  Using your fingers, rub the grated peel into the sugar to release the flavors of the lemon.  Then, add 1 cup of softened butter and beat at medium speed for 5 minutes or until your mixture is light and fluffy.  Add each egg one at a time until the yolk of your egg disappears.
Notice how fluffy your batter should be.

In a different bowl, sift the flour, soda, powder, and salt.
Sifted flour, soda, powder, and salt

In another bowl, squeeze your two grated lemons for enough juice to give you about 1/4 of a cup.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla, whisking it all together to combine.

Back to your fluffy sugar-butter mixture... gradually add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to your bowl, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. For each addition, beat at your mixer's low speed and just until your ingredients have been combined.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared bundt pan, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.
Spooned batter before smoothing out with spatula

Bake 50-60 minutes depending on your oven.  The cake will have a golden hue and will be done when a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let your cake cool for a minimum of 20 minutes before attempting to release it from the pan.  Let it cool completely before adding the glaze.
Golden cake hot from the oven

For the glaze:
Whisk together 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1 cup of confectioner's sugar, and 1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier or vanilla until your mixture has a smooth consistency.  If it seems to runny, add little amounts of confectioner's sugar until you get the consistency that appeals to you.
Drizzled glaze

When the cake has cooled completely, drizzle the glaze even over the top.  It will drip down the sides and look glorious when allowed to set.
A slice of cake with sugared strawberries