Lately, for some odd reason, I’ve been on a lemon kick. It’s weird, because it’s almost as if I’m hanging on to the last vestiges of summer with a death-grip. That’s weird because it’s not like summer has left us! If you weren’t already aware, the summer’s here in Central Texas are not for the faint of heart. Granted, they have nothing on El Paso summers, but here they can get pretty blistering as well. Plus, when you live in ELP a.k.a. “The Desert”, you kind of expect “hot”. But, there’s only, like, a half-day in CenTex where the temperature gives us a brief respite; so, you’ll see locals out in droves enjoying the day without suffering from heatstroke. The summer here is hot, y’all. Just plain hot. Even “Autumn” here is intense. Case in point: today, on of the last days in October, it’s currently 86°F. That’s just not cool, man. I can’t get away with rocking my knee high boots and faux fur vest in the sweltering weather Texas is giving me. A Yankee struggles in the South. It’s not right. So lemons. Lemons are a way for me to match up what I’m eating with what I feel when I step outside. That, and I found some Meyer lemons at the local food store that were on sale. That too. I also have some semolina flour left over from my lubnan recipe a few weeks ago. What to do, what to do??? Well, the only right thing to do would be to make a zesty, earthy cake to enjoy with…say…a cup of coffee (I’d drink coffee if it were 100°) and a great book. Yes, that’s exactly what should be done. I think it’s safe to assume that most don’t use their college textbooks on a daily basis. That is, unless you’re a chef, then your textbooks become a permanent fixture in your life. The only exception, for me, being my Principles of Sanitation book. That will never be seen or heard from again. But, one of my textbooks was authored by Bo Friberg; it’s an exhaustive cookbook entitled: The Professional Pastry Chef. Sounds super intimidating, no? Good, because it is. It contains, though, a massive collection of fundamentals and recipes that are surefire successes. I’ve been making a lemon semolina cake from it for years. Never to be satisfied with a recipe that I didn’t create, I usually will tweak and alter a great many things to make it mine. I’m sure Chef Friberg intends and encourages it, and I do so with all due respect. The original use of Meyer lemon is something I haven’t changed, however, as I find it genius and inventive. **Total squirrel moment: how many of you gave a lemon slice to your baby and laughed hysterically when they made the bitter-beer face? Huh!? Anyone?!?! No one? Just me. Well, I’ll relinquish my “Mother of the Year Award” posthaste.** Now, while the name, Meyer lemon, always evokes images of Meyer Lansky in my mind, I realize that not all of you are disturbed Mob aficionados. I’ll just clarify that the Meyer lemon is not named after La Cosa Nostra’s accountant, but after an upstanding agriculturalist named Frank Meyer. The main difference between the Meyer and the standard supermarket lemon is the sweeter, less acidic taste it possesses. If you opt to use the common lemon, decrease the juice by 1 tsp and the zest by half.
Lemon Semolina Cakettes
Lemon Semolina Cakette
- 1 lemon thinly sliced, optional
- 1/4-1/2 cup caramel sugar recipe here, or brown sugar, optional
- 11 oz unsalted butter at room temp
- 13 oz granulated sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs at room temp
- 6 oz all purpose flour
- 1 oz cornstarch
- 3 oz semolina flour
- 3 oz yellow cornmeal
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 8 oz sour cream at room temp
- Lemon Syrup recipe follows
- 2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp dried lavender optional
- 3/4 cups Meyer lemon juice or 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 6 oz granulated sugar
- 2 oz cold water
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray two jumbo muffin tins (or a mini cakes tin) with baking spray or grease with butter and dust lightly with flour, shaking out excess. Line each tine with a slice of lemon and top with an even coating of caramel (or brown) sugar (this is optional).
- In your mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy- about 7 minutes.Scrape down the bowl and paddle occasionally.
- During the mixing, sift together the dry ingredients 3 times. Set aside.
- Add the lemon zest and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix to combine. Scrape down the bowl before adding the first of your eggs.
- Continue adding the eggs, one at a time and scraping the bowl down after mixing in each egg. Mix for an additional 3 minutes. Scrape down your bowl,
- Mix the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl in 2 parts, alternating with the sour cream. Scrape down your bowl after each addition.
- Divide your batter into your tins evenly. Bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the centers spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a baking rack to cool completely. While they are cooling prepare your syrup.
- Combine all the lemon syrup ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat after the mixture reaches a boil and set aside to cool.
Freshly Whipped Cream
- In a cold metal or glass bowl, whip the heavy cream on med-high speed.
- When your whisk begins to leave trails in the cream, slowly add the sugar. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase whipping speed to high. While until the cream forms stiff peaks when the whisk is removed. Keep cold until use.
- Brush or pour equal parts of the lemon syrup over each cakette, remembering to soak the sides as well. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream on top each cakette and garnish with a light sprinkle of lavender buds.