Triple Citrus Glazed Butter Cake

citrus cake with our peach-raspberry jam

For the past week or so, we’ve had fantastic magical California paradise weather, and I’ve been working in the gardens almost all day long.   Late winter veggie starts went in the ground, and one last batch of garlic.  I also planted seeds for calendula, love-in-a-mist, bells of ireland, and poppies, along with the dahlia tubers I picked up at the store the other day.  This fantastic triple citrus butter cake is all that sunshine and good weather on a plate, no matter where you live! The flavor is bright and refreshing, and it’s lighter than all these 15 layer chocolate death cakes that are floating around with Valentine’s Day coming up so soon.  Those are awesome, but this the kind of cake that you can vaguely rationalize eating for breakfast, and those are important cakes to have in your life.

 

fresh eggs make better baked goods!

This recipe is an adaptation of the Lemon-Glazed Butter Cake recipe in the April 2009 issue of Gourmet. I’ve substituted skim milk and added some new citrus- I hope you like it!

Triple-Citrus Butter Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (or whatever milk  you have in your fridge is fine)
  • 1/2 tbs. lemon zest
  • 1/2 tbs. tangelo zest
  • 1/2 tsp. clementine zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut extract (I was out of vanilla, you could use that too)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs (the original recipe suggests bringing the eggs to room temperature, but you could also just walk to the chicken coop and get three fresh ones that never were in the fridge at all)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh citrus juice (combine 1/8 c. lemon, 1/8 c. tangelo, and eat the clementine. Or a different combination, it doesn’t matter.)
  • Optional: top with confectioners sugar and jam (I used Peach-Raspberry, but any fruit would be fine).  Whipped Cream would be good, but we didn’t have any when I made it.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter and flour an 8″ round cake pan, which I don’t own, so I used a glass dish…
  2. 2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, citrus zest, and hazelnut extract.
  3. 3. If you have an electric mixer, now’s the time to get it out: Cream together the sugar and softened butter until it’s fluffy and fully incorporated (about 2 min.)  Next, add in the eggs (one at a time, and mix well in between each egg).
  4. 4. Turn the mixer on low, and mix in the flour in batches, alternating with the milk mixture. (Make sure not to over mix the batter).   Pour the finished batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles, and put it in the oven.
  5. 5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the cake comes out clean.  When the cake is out of the oven and cooling, whisk together the confectioners sugar and citrus juice until it’s completely smooth.  Remove the cake from the pan and put it on a cooling rack if you have one(I don’t have one of those either, you can tell I’m totally not a baker…. I put mine on a big plate with paper towel). Brush the cake with the glaze and let it cool the rest of the way.
  6. 6. Eat the cake! (If you’re thinking about cake-dinner menu pairings, we had fried chicken, braised kale from the garden cooked with our home-cured bacon, and mashed potatoes with country gravy, and the refreshing citrus flavor went absolutely wonderfully with all that).

 


Meyer Lemon Marmalade

meyer lemon marmalade on vanilla pound cake

This past week has been a crazy tornado of citrus! In the midst of the whirlwind of blood oranges, tangelos, lemons and honey tangerines,  I thought it might be nice to stick to Meyer Lemons and sugar for one batch- no fancy spices, no booze (well, not in the marmalade atleast), no other fruits, no added pectin.

I was able to do my shopping for the marmalade extravaganza at the Allemany Farmers Market in San Francisco, which is my absolute, hands down most favorite shopping experience.  I find so many lovely things there; just this last week I went home with fresh dates, a bundle of lemongrass, chanterelles, fresh baked croissants, a dozen oysters from Point Reyes, and, of course, a rainbow of citrus fruit! (The prices here tend to be really reasonable too, not like Whole Foods or other specialty markets).  With such high quality, fresh fruit, it seemed like a shame to mess with it.

I want to brag about only buying certified organic, but really, a signed statement from the farmer saying that he’s never sprayed a pesticide in his whole life seems more genuine than any certification from the government.

Enough about the farmers market, though, check out these lemons!  In case you haven’t seen then before, Meyer Lemons are smaller and juicier than regular lemons, and their thin skins are much more delicate, making it hard for normal grocery stores to stock them since they don’t ship well.  They are also incredibly aromatic.

This marmalade is simple, with no added pectin.  All you need is Meyer Lemons, sugar, water and time.  This recipe uses a ratio of 1 part prepared lemons to 1 part sugar, so once you’ve read the whole thing through, if you’d like to change the amount, it should work fine.

Ingredients:

  • 36 Meyer Lemons
  • 3 Water
  • 6 Sugar

Because these peels are so thin and delicate, so I used a different method for preparing citrus fruit than I usually do.   First, I sliced off the ends of the fruit. Then I slice each lemon into quarters.

Using a sharp knife, slice out the tough inner piece of pith and remove any seeds.Slice into very thin wedges and put them into a nonreactive pot. Add a little water (I used 3 cups for 36 lemons; change the ratio accordingly).

Cover the pot, set it aside, and wait for a day.

After you’ve waited the full 24 hours, bring the lemons to a simmer and cook for 10-20 minutes or until the peels are soft.  Set aside the cooked lemon mixture in the fridge for an hour to cool and let the pectin develop. (The pectin, which makes the marmalade gel, is inside the lemons. By letting the lemons rest- first for 24 hours, then for 2 hours- the pectin oozes out into the surrounding liquid.)

After the hour has past, use a large measuring cup to see how much lemon mixture you have.  Combine equal parts lemons and sugar in a large, wide-bottomed nonreactive pot. I had six cups of the lemon mixture so I divided it into two separate batches just to make sure it didn’t have to cook forever to reach the gelling point (you lose a lot of flavor this way).

Cook on medium high, stirring fairly often, until the marmalade gels (about 30 minutes). It seems like everyone has a different way of testing for gel point, but I just use my trusty wooden spoon. When the marmalade drips off the spoon in one big sheet instead of single drops, it means it’s done.  (You can also leave a few small plates in the freezer, and when you think the marmalade is close, put a teaspoon of hot marmalade on the cold plate.  Wait 30 seconds, and run your finger through the marmalade. If you see little wrinkles on the surface of the marmalade, it means it’s set.) Ladle the hot marmalade into hot, clean jars. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and screw on the lids.  Process half-pint jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes to get a good seal.

RECIPE IDEAS:

This classic marmalade is great on english muffins with lots of butter, or as frosting on pound cake. It would also make a fantastic marinade for grilled chicken or shrimp, and it will work well in Spanish, Moroccan, or Middle-Eastern dishes.

As a bonus project, you can germinate some seeds and try to grow your own Meyer Lemon tree…

Just pull out some whole seeds, fold them in a damp paper towel, and put them in a ziploc bag. I blow some air into the ziploc bag so it’s like a little greenhouse.  Theoretically they will sprout in 7-14 days, and then you can plant them.  These little seeds probably won’t bear fruit for years and years, but they’re pretty plants and fun to grow.   Good luck!