Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Monday, February 27, 2017

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars, like this one from a vintage recipe card, were ubiquitous during my childhood -- a plate of these tart and sweet treats appeared at nearly every gathering, from the ladies' afternoon card games to pot luck dinners. Created by Betty Crocker in in 1963, the lemon bar caught on like wildfire. And for good reason -- they are a delicious combination of a cookie base topped by a tart lemon custard. They are still quite popular, albeit with some modern twists, like the addition of lemon zest to ramp up the lemon flavor.

Did I mention these are a snap to make? I whipped these up for my dear friend Suzanne, a huge fan of my red velvet cake. And I hope these lemon bars too!

Let's get started. Using a stand or electric mixer, combine the flour, butter and confectioner's sugar for the base. Place the mixture into the baking pan and, using your hands (I always wear gloves), press it down...

Until it is spread evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes. It will look rather raw, but remember, it will get a second baking.

Prepare the lemon topping, which you can do while the crust is baking.  Beat the eggs well, and add the sugar, flour and baking powder.  Mix it well.

It should look like this.

Pour it over the prepared crust and pop it in the oven.

Remove it from the oven and let it cool a bit.

Sprinkle it with confectioner's sugar, using a strainer for even coverage. Let cool completely and cut into squares.

Production notes: I followed the recipe almost exactly, but have typed out instructions below this rather stained recipe card. I tried to create a sling with parchment paper, but didn't cover the entire pan as I usually do.  It was a big fail, and I could not get the cake out in one piece. I also beat the eggs first, really, really well (not to the point where they form a ribbon, but almost).

Sophie's Lemon Bars

Preheat oven to 350F

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. confectioner's sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well (w. electric mixer)
Place into an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch square pan.
Press into pan.
Bake 15 minutes.

4 T. fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 c. sugar
2 T. flour
1/2 t. baking powder

Beat eggs a lot. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix very well.

Pour over crust and bake for 25 minutes.
Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar when almost cool.
They will firm up while cooling.
Cut into bars.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lemon-Cake Pudding

We were having friends over on Sunday so I made two round yellow things -- a frittata for the main course and this uber delicious Lemon-Cake Pudding for dessert from a c. 1940s recipe. Not only was it delicious, but it was magic -- though I put just one batter in the oven, during baking it turned into two: a light delicate cake atop a lemony custard pudding.

There are a few steps involved, but none are that difficult. And when the payoff is lemon magic, then it's well worth the effort.

Start by juicing some lemons.

Then, set out all of your ingredients. Put the dry ingredients (plus some butter) in one bowl, separate the eggs, and measure out the milk and lemon juice.

After you mix all these up, you'll have three bowls -- all of which are combined in the end. The egg-milk mixture is added to the main batter.

The final step is carefully folding in the egg whites. I always add a bit of cream of tartar when I beat the whites, so as not to dry them out.

After blending, pour into the ungreased pan.  Mine could have been blended a bit better; note the swirls of white.

Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes. Next time, I'd bake this a bit longer than the 50 minutes I did.

It's a bit messy to get the first slice out, but rather easy after that.

Production notes: I followed the recipe almost exactly, and have written it out below the vintage card.

Lemon-Cake Pudding

Preheat oven to 350F
Place a large baking dish in the oven and fill water until it is 1/3 of the way up the sides. This will be your water bath. Make sure your 8- or 9-inch square or round ungreased cake pan will fit comfortably in it. (Or cheat like I did and just put cake pan in the larger pan, place in the oven, and fill the baking pan with water.)

1 c. sugar
4 TBS flour
1/8 t salt
2 TBS butter, softened to room temperature
5 TBS fresh lemon juice
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1 1/2 c whole milk

Juice about two small lemons to get 5 tablespoons of juice.
Place sugar, flour, salt, softened butter in a bowl.  Mix thoroughly.
Add lemon juice and mix. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Beat the egg yolk, add the milk and combine well.

Add the egg-milk mixture to the flour mixture and combine well.
Carefully fold in the egg whites.

Pour into cake pan and place in the oven.

Bake about 45 to 50 minutes. The top should be golden brown.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Honey Ginger Cookies

I'm back with a little honey for your honey on Valentine's Day. Honey Ginger Cookies, from a vintage recipe, are cake-like cookies, neither chewy nor crispy and are not overly sweet. They taste like honey, so if that's your thing, this is your cookie. I wasn't a huge fan, but my coworkers were -- these disappeared rather quickly. Or maybe my colleagues were simply distraught over the Super Bowl, as I brought them in the day after the game.

They are rather easy to prepare, requiring just a couple of bowls and spoons, and the butter is melted, so they take virtually no planning (i.e,, you needn't wait for the butter to soften, as in many cookie recipes).

Below is the entire mis en place for the cookies. The topping requires many of these ingredients, plus nuts.

To get started, mix the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls and combine. No need to use a mixer; a spoon works fine.

The batter will look like this when properly combined.

I found it difficult to drop these from a teaspoon (as the recipe card instructed), so with gloved hands, I rolled them into small balls and just pressed lightly on them before baking.

The recipe calls for small cookies and I did make one sheet of them. But I was in a rush, so doubled the size. Both were good. Just don't put both sizes on a single sheet, as the larger ones take a few minutes longer in the oven.

For the topping, simply place the butter, sugar, honey, salt and nuts in a saucepan.

Let it come to a boil and spoon over the cooled cookies.

Production notes: I followed this recipe exactly, except I only sifted once. If I were to make it again, I'd add a bit more ginger. These also don't spread much, so you don't have to place them three inches apart. Note the old-fashioned spelling of the word "cooky."