Friday, January 20, 2012

Little Lemon Cakes

I purchased some Meyer lemons the other day and they were a deep yellow color, almost orange. Their skin was soft and pliable. I love lemons, both unadorned and in almost anything made with their juice and zest.

So my vague plan was to use the Meyer lemons to make individual cakes with a chocolate topping but I had trouble finding the time. We were snowed in this week and my husband was in South Africa on business so I was flying solo with the kidlets. My saving grace is that I am an insomniac and when someone isn't around to keep me in check, I go to bed at 2. So for part of the week I stayed up reading a terrific, happy book called the Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz (possibly my favorite food blogger), but last night I made cakes.

While the cakes were cooking I made a caramel sauce and then a chocolate glaze and in the freezer we happened to have some vanilla custard from Old School Custard. I think the custard won as the best accompaniment to the cake, though all three were interesting and delicious in their own way. My test subjects thought the crust of the cake was a little overdone and I agreed. I should have pulled them out a couple of minutes before I did.

Little Lemon Cakes
Cake modified from the Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake recipe in the Joy of Cooking
Makes 4 generous individual cakes

5 T unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 meyer lemon, washed and dried
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
a scant* 1 tsp baking soda
a scant* 1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Butter or spray to grease the cake dishes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease 4 12 oz individual ramekins or other small dishes that are oven safe.

Melt the butter and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool a little.

Add both sugars, the vanilla extract, salt, egg and sour cream. Whisk until smooth.

Zest the lemon and add it to the bowl. Cut the lemon in half and juice one half, adding ~1/4 cup of lemon juice to the bowl (a little extra wouldn't hurt). Whisk until blended.

Add the flour and fold in gently with a wooden spoon until just mixed.

Transfer the individual dishes to the oven. Start checking at around 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (a few small crumbs is okay as long as they don't look overly moist). Let cool for a few minutes and then running a knife around the edges, turn gently onto a plate and flip over, right side up.

The current winning vote in our household is to eat the cake warm with vanilla ice cream or custard.

* Why am I saying a scant? The original recipe calls for 3/4 tsp but I would scoop up 1 tsp and scrape a little out to approximate 3/4 tsp.

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