Sunday, April 17, 2011

Time for tea, and lemon

Lemon Tea Loaves by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

I have a long-standing love for lemon, as witnessed by my recipes for Lemon Pound Cake and food-of-the-gods Lemon Pudding. When I was a little girl in pigtails, scooter skirts and Keds, I loved Sunshine lemon cookies, the kind with the powdered sugar that would leave white chalky sugar dust at the corners of my mouth. I would pull out my childhood tea set, a collection of mismatched "Made in Nippon" teacups and saucers, fill with tea and serve the cookies alongside.

Now, I'm all grown-up, completely over the pigtails and scooter skirts, (but still loving my Keds). To get my lemon fix, I sometimes bake this Lemon Tea Loaf, a rich, citrus-scented cake with a tart lemony glaze. If it's been awhile since you've used your wedding china, pull out a few cups and saucers, make a pot of Earl Grey and slice up this lovely cake. Invite a neighbor over to share the tea, then send them home with the second loaf. Or, be very strong and wrap both loaves up to give as gifts - a hostess gift on Easter or Mother's Day, or perhaps the upcoming end-of-school. Your lemon-loaving friends will be grateful.

Lemon Tea Loaf

Yield: 2 loaves

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

Zest of 2 lemons

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

For glaze: ½ cup sugar dissolved in juice of 2 lemons

1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two loaf pans using baking spray or greasing with butter.

2. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Add lemon rind. Sift together dry ingredients, then add alternately to the batter with milk. Pour batter into prepared baking pans.

3. Place pans in 350 oven and bake for 45 minutes. Bake until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks.

4. While cake is cooling, dissolve sugar in the juice of two lemons. Slowly pour glaze over cakes and let cool.

Lemons by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.

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