Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sunshine Lemon Bread

Sunshine Superman by Donovan
You have to admire a man with confidence.  "Superman or Green Lantern ain't got nothin' on me," is what Donovan says in this classic funky song from the 60s.  It's a song about a guy who really digs this chick and he's letting her know just how groovy it'll be if only they were together - how he'll dive for pearls for her and keep her in a fresh supply of rainbows and never-ending sunsets.  Sigh!  It sounds wonderful, right?  It sounds like a lot of work!  Really - all he'd need to do to win this girl over is make her this Lemon Bread.  Seriously.  Find this guy some lemons - QUICK!!

Winters can be so dreary.  Sometimes it just seems to go on for foreverrrrrr!

I, personally, think that that is why God gave us citrus from fall to spring.  He wanted to apologize for having to have dreary precipitous months in order for us to be able to have enough moisture to grow the food we eat.  Of course, he made that citrus grow in places where there AREN'T dreary months with which to contend.  But he DID give us brilliant minds that helped us figure out how to get that citrus shipped to dreary places, right?  He is a loving Father in Heaven.  Citrus is just one of his tender mercies.  

A while back I made some lemon tartlets.  I was happy that the stores were full of Meyer lemons again. Well, a few days after I made those tartlets I still had some of those lemons around and I got to thinking about how to use them.  I was looking for inspiration.  I put a stack of cookbooks on my kitchen table with the intention of perusing each and every one of them until I found something that got me excited.  Well, it didn't take long!  I got excited - really excited - thumbing through the very first one called "Baked: New Frontiers in Baking" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.  I found their version of a quick lemon bread and couldn't wait to start zesting and juicing those deep golden yellow babies!  For this recipe I'm thinking you'll need about 5 regular lemons or about 8 Meyer lemons.

I love how excited my mouth gets when it knows something lemony is on its way.  On this particular day my mouth said it really wanted this lemon bread to be moist.  I mean MOIST!  It wanted tang!  It wanted just enough sweetness to not let that tang get too bossy and it wanted that icing on the top to be the kicker - the perfect blend of tart and sweet AND with a buttery texture!  My mouth gets pretty demanding sometimes.  That's OK because this bread delivered!  It tasted just how I wanted it to.  And, that, folks, IS Sunshine Superman baking.  That's how you win hearts!

Lemon Lemon Loaf
Printable Recipe Card
makes 2 loaves
from "Baked: New Frontiers in Baking" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
with just some minor changes by myself

1 1/2 c. cake flour
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt
2 1/4 c. sugar
8 eggs, room temperature
zest from 4 lemons
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
2 c. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 c. sour cream, room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9x5 loaf pans.

Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

Zest the lemons into the sugar and use the sugar to "wipe" the zester clean, retaining all those wonderful lemon oils (i.e. flavor) that have accumulated on the zester.  Juice the lemons and remove all seeds.  Put the lemon juice and zest in a blender with the sugar and add the eggs.  Blend until combined.  With the blender running, drizzle the melted butter in through the hole in the lid, mixing well.  Add the sour cream and vanilla and blend until just combined.  Transfer mixture to a bowl.  

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the lemon mixture one third at a time and gently fold after each addition just until combined.  Do not over mix.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 30 - 35 minutes.  A toothpick should come out clean when it's fully cooked.  

Let cool in pans for 15 minutes before turning them out onto a rack.

While the bread is baking, make the lemon syrup and the glaze.

Lemon Syrup
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
1/3 c. sugar

Combine the juice and the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Cook 3 minutes more.  Set aside.  

Lemon Glaze
2 c. powdered sugar
4 - 6 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. melted butter

Stir ingredients together until smooth and velvety.  It should be thick but pourable.  Add more lemon juice if needed.

When loaves have cooled for 15 minutes, poke with a toothpick all over the tops and sides.  Place cooling racks in a sheet tray and, using a pastry brush, brush the lemon syrup over the sides and tops of the loaves.  Apply a second coat when done with the first.  Let them cool completely.

When completely cooled, pour the glaze over the tops and let it run down over the sides.

OK - NOW we're sweet-talking and winning hearts!!

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