As I was driving down the main thoroughfare in my community today, I spotted a group of kids, I would say about 10 or 11 years old, yelling and waving frantically at me to stop. They had set up a lemonade stand with an array of handrawn signs, on the corner of this particular intersection. How could I drive by this group of young entrepreneurs without purchasing the product that they had obviously spent hours concocting. I would be forever known as “the mean lady”.
When I pulled over to the curb and got out of my car, I could see sighs of relief on their tiny faces. Yes! A customer. I ordered up a glass of their homemade brew, and when I opened my wallet to pay, I realized I had just blown my entire wad at the supermarket on this evening’s dinner. Oh geez, was this really happening. Dead broke in front of a bunch of 10 year olds. I quietly asked if they took American Express, and they told me they run a cash only business. However they said, since they knew where I lived, they would come by later to settle my outstanding balance. Whew! Problem averted.
As I stood their enjoying my refreshing drink, I started sizing up their business, and thought I should set up my own stand and sell a more mature version of lemonade with my homemade cookies. Do you think it would look weird for a middle-aged woman to sit on a street corner hawking her wares? Well, my kids said they would disown me and would be forced to leave town. So, I let the idea go…for now, anyway.
This version of lemonade is not too sweet, and infused with lots of herbally goodness. The cucumber slices just heighten it’s freshness and make it perfect for a summer’s day.
From Everyday Food, June 2008
- 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
- 1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs, additional for garnishing
- 2 cups fresh lemon juice (I needed about 13 lemons)
- Persian cucumber for garnish
Mama’s tips: 8 ounce mason jars are perfect for serving the lemonade, and can be found in most supermarkets and online.
What a great night; I’ve got the fluffy slippers on, two-hours of American Idol ahead of me, and just out-of-the oven lemon pudding cakes. It doesn’t get any better than this. I remember the times when a fun evening was heading out to a disco (now I’m dating myself) and dancing the night away to Donna Summer songs. Oh, how times have changed…for me, at least. My life is very simple now. Just give me a little Ryan Seacrest and a sugary dessert, and I’m a very happy camper.
I planned the exit of these little cakes from the oven at approximately 7:25pm, so that they could have a little time to cool down before the evening’s fun began at 8. The pudding cakes are especially good right from the oven because they’re a little cake-y on the outside, with a warm pudding center on the inside, and a sugary crust on the top. It’s a total warm-and-cozy dessert.
Lemon Pudding Cake
From Real Simple Magazine
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- turbinado (raw sugar) or a coarse sugar
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place six, 4-ounce ramekins inside a large roasting pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment, whisk together the egg yolks and butter until combined. Whisk in the milk and lemon zest and juice. Add the sugar mixture to the lemon mixture and whisk until smooth. Transfer this mixture to another bowl and completely clean and dry the mixer bowl.
- Using the electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt on medium-high until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. In three additions, gently fold the egg whites into the lemon-sugar mixture.
- Divide the pudding mixture among the ramekins. Sprinkle the tops of the puddings with the coarse sugar. Now, add hot water to the roasting pan so that the water comes half-way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the tops are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
It’s an absolutely beautiful day today in Los Angeles. The sun is shining (yes, again), the air is balmy, and I’ve decided to stay in and bake Lemon Muffins. I know, I know. I should go out and get some exercise, get that heart rate up and breathe some fresh air. But I can’t help myself, I just want to stay in and bake. I’m really not kidding when I say Mama’s Gotta Bake. But it’s okay, this is LA and it will be sunny again tomorrow. I promise, I’ll get out there tomorrow.
I still have half a bag of these Meyer lemons sitting on my countertop. They won’t last forever, so I’m foraging through the recipe file looking for a tasty way to use this beautiful citrus fruit. I found a recipe from The Los Angeles Times for Meyer Lemon Muffins. You could still make these muffins with regular lemons if you don’t have the Meyers, it’s just that they won’t be as sweet. But they’ll still be good. Anyway, what I like about these particular muffin tops is that the cinnamon and sugar sweetly caramelize the edges of the muffins and the lemon slice gives it a tart tang.
From The Los Angeles Times
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin with melted butter using a pastry brush.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
- Cut two of your lemons into one-inch pieces (rind and all). Put them in a blender and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk, butter and the chopped lemons and stir.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the lemon mixture in. Fold the ingredients together just until they are incorporated and all the ingredients are moistened.
- Spoon the batter into the tins, about 2/3 full. I use an ice cream scoop so that I get an equal amount of batter in each well.
- I baked one tin with muffin liners and one without. I prefer the muffins baked without liners much more as they got golden brown and a little crispy on the outside. Just make sure to brush each compartment thoroughly with melted butter, (use a pastry brush).
- Stir together in a small bowl the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon. I used Vietnamese cinnamon just because I prefer the flavor. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of each muffin. Cut the remaining lemon into paper thin slices, and then cut each slice in half. Top each muffin with a half slice of lemon.
- Bake for about 20-22 minutes until golden brown, and when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool in tin for about 5 minutes.
You can make these muffins with muffin liners or without. I preferred the look of the muffins without the liners as they got a beautiful, golden brown. Either way, you’ll be pleased with the results.
I’m at it again with the mini desserts, I don’t know why. Certainly I could make full size desserts, it’s just that I find these mini’s so darn cute. I knew that I wanted to make lemon tarts today because the wintertime yields the most wonderful and fragrant varieties of citrus. I decided to hit up my local Costco in my quest for the fruit, and lo and behold they had the most gorgeous boxes of Meyer lemons. I imagine most people wouldn’t react to fruit with such glee, but I have a hard time finding these; and when I do, they’re usually small and unattractive.
So, what you may ask is a Meyer lemon. They are a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange. Their skins are thinner than your garden variety lemon, and the juice is sweeter. The Meyer lemon has less acid, a very floral scent and their season is usually between January and May. And by golly, I just love them.
I should point out, if you make these tarts in the mini muffin tin, please make sure you spray the tin sufficiently so the tarts will release easily. I also made some in 4 inch tart pans, and those were easier to release.
Anyway, I still have tons of these lemons left so you guessed it…Mama’s Gotta Bake somethin’ new tomorrow. I’m thinking muffins.
Mini Lemon Tarts
From The Silver Palate Cookbook
- 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup fine granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 teaspoons cold water
- Sift flour, sugar and salt into mixing bowl. Cut chilled butter into pieces into the bowl. Using your fingertips, quickly rub the butter and dry ingredients together until the mixture resembles coarse meal
- Stir egg yolks, vanilla and water together and add to the flour-butter mixture and blend in using a fork. Shape dough into a ball.
- Place the ball of dough on a pastry board. With the heel of your hand, smear about 1/4 cup of dough away from you into a 6-8 inch smear; repeat until all the dough has been dealt with. Scrape dough together; reform into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin with cooking spray well so the crusts will not stick to the pan. Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of wax paper. Using a 2″ round cookie cutter, cut circles and tuck the dough into muffin cups, pressing with your fingertips so that the dough comes up the sides of the cup.
- Using a fork prick the bottoms of each dough cup. Then cut 3″ squares of foil and press them into the inside of the dough cups. Use pie weights, beans or rice or even pennies to weigh down the foil.
- Bake the crusts for about 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and take out the foil and pie weights and then return the crusts to the oven for another 5-9 minutes until the crusts are lightly golden on the edges. Everyone’s oven is different so you really have to keep an eye on the crusts. It’s not so much about the time, but how they visually look. You don’t want an undercooked dough, and you don’t want the crust too dark as it will be very dry and crumbly.
Meyer Lemon Filling
Adapted from Joy of Baking
- 5 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- In a food processor or the bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese and process until smooth. Add the sugar and process until incorporated. Add the eggs and process until thoroughly combined. Add the lemon juice and zest and process until well blended and smooth.
- Using a tablespoon, I spooned the mixture into the individual tarts, filling to the top.
- I baked the mini tarts for about 10 minutes. The tarts are done when the filling is set. It took my oven about 10 minutes.
- Let cool for about 15 minutes, then gently remove them from the pan. I sprayed the pan well so the tarts released very easily.
You can garnish the tarts with fresh whipped cream and a wedge of lemon if you like. The recipe makes 24 mini tarts, or one-9″ tart.
You can view this recipe and others at Crumbs and Chaos.
You can’t believe how it’s been raining in LA lately. Yesterday it was as if the skies opened up and tons of water just poured out. Today it’s cool and cloudy once again, and they’re predicting showers later today. So,what’s a girl to do when the weather is so glum. You got it, let the sun shine in!
To me, nothing says warmth and sunshine like fresh lemons. I adore the smell of freshly grated lemon zest. So that brings us to one of my all-time favorite lemon-inspired cakes. This Lemon Yogurt Cake is chock full of fresh lemon zest and lemon juice, and then topped with a tart lemon glaze. You got it baby, inside and out just pure lemon-y goodness. After the cake is baked, I take a wooden skewer and gently poke holes throughout the top of the cake. Then I pour the liquid lemon mixture over top. This makes this cake so moist and full of rich lemon flavor. This cake is actually better the day after you make it, after the juice has had time to soak in.
I like to serve this dessert for brunches or luncheons, but it’s really just your basic feel-good treat.
Lemon Yogurt Cake
Barefoot Contessa at Home
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
- 3 extra-large eggs
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the glaze:
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and using a pastry brush and melted butter, grease and flour the pan.
First, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it gets mixed together. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, a skewer or paring knife inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean.
Cook the 1/3 cup of lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar in a saucepan pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully take cake out of pan and place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, I take a skewer and gently poke holes into cake and then pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
To make the glaze, I whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice to the consistency I like, and then pour over cake.