Monthly Archives: January 2010

Glazed Lemon Cakes

While winter seems to beg for rich, warm or comforting desserts — sticky toffee pudding, brownies and apple pie — I crave lemon.

Of course, I’ve always been a go-against-the-grain kind of girl.

I like all those desserts, too; they have their place. But lemon tang on a dark, wintry day takes me away from the snow and cold. It can brighten a dreary afternoon, send me a shot of virtual sunshine.

Glazed Lemon Cakes II

Sure, we’ve been enjoying a lengthy bout of relatively warm weather, but I’m not easily fooled. Real spring is still weeks away and if I can trick myself into feeling like winter has already snapped and the fresh green and blossoms are quickly nearing, then I have to take advantage of that.

But which lemon dessert?

Conservatively, I have about 40 lemon-based tarts, bars, cupcakes and other concoctions saved on the online bookmarking site, Delicious. (All right, I checked. There are 41. But probably not for much longer.) All of these things have caught my eye at one time or another and I’ve saved them for just such wintry occasions when I need a taste of bright and tart.

The lemon bars had their appeal. The pull-apart lemon loaf looked tempting, but a bit time-consuming for me in this fit of citrus craving. But glazed lemon cakes? Oh yes, those I could handle.

The hardest part of this recipe was remembering to pull the butter out of the fridge so it could come to room temperature. Almost all of the ingredients are standard in most fridges, except, perhaps, the plain low-fat yogurt or buttermilk. In this case I went with the yogurt because it seemed like something I could more easily use up. Buttermilk is great for baking, but it’s not something I tend to go through quickly.

These little cakes were light, tender and full of tang. With the addition of the thick glaze that dripped down the edges, they reached lemon perfection. Not puckeringly tart, but deliciously citrus: a little injection of sunshine on an overcast day.

I can’t lie. I ate two before I even mixed the glaze.

And if that isn’t enough motivation to whip up a batch, I’m not sure what is.

One last note, the original recipe calls for a “6-cup jumbo muffin tin.” Since I try to avoid buying new bakeware for just one recipe, I decided to make do with what I had lying around.

My advice? Bake them in a regular muffin tin for 15 minutes (though consider starting to check them at the 10-minute mark, just in case) and eat two!

Lemon Cakes

Glazed Lemon Cakes I

Glazed Lemon Cakes III

This recipe is from Everyday Food.

Glazed Lemon Cakes

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tin
  • 1½ cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour, plus more for muffin tin
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) low-fat buttermilk, or plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated, plus juice, plus 2 tbsp (25 mL) more lemon juice for the glaze
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups (375 mL) confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F (EDIT, this should be 180°C). Butter and flour a 6-cup jumbo muffin tin or 12-cup regular muffin tin. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla and lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk mixture.

Divide evenly among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centre of a cake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. (Or about 15 minutes for a 12-cup muffin tin. Start checking at the 10-minute mark.) Cool 10 minutes in tin, then cool completely on a rack.

Set rack over wax or parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir confectioners’ sugar with remaining lemon juice until smooth. Pour over cakes, spreading to edges with a small knife. Let set 30 minutes.

This story first appeared in the Real Life section in the Calgary Herald. For more delicious recipes, visit CalgaryHerald.com/life.

Pasta Carbonara

I have had great need of comfort food lately.

And for me that often means cheese and cream and pasta. Emphasis on cream. Sure, throw bacon in there too. So, no, this is not going to be low-fat or healthy or in any way, shape or form good for you, unless you have a severe bacon deficiency. (And wouldn’t that be wonderful?)

This is a totally bastardized version of Pasta Carbonara. Yes, I sometimes make the real stuff. No, this isn’t it. Yes, it’s still good.

Pasta Carbonara

I’ve loved pasta carbonara since I was a kid when my grandfather would make it for me.

I like the contrast of the salty bacon and the slightly sweet onions and the smooth creaminess bundled with the slight chew of a wide, flat pasta. (Why do I always delay so long in writing blog posts. I’m killing myself right now, having eaten the last of this for lunch.)

You may notice that I put a pound of bacon in the ingredient list. I cook up a pound but can guarantee nothing near that actually makes it into the dish. A lot of bacon snacking goes on. I consider it part of the cooking process.

Oh, and I cook it in the oven. This may seem like a weird extra step, but it means I’m not standing around watching it cook in the pan (read: I can go mess around on the computer) and it makes relatively quick work when doing an entire package of the stuff.

Since I make enough for a family of six, I typically have a lot of leftovers. Let me offer you one tip when it comes to reheating: add a bit of milk or cream to the bowl/tupperware container. It will help steam and revitalize the noodles and sauce instead of frying it.

So, now that I’m drooling, I’m not going to keep waxing poetic on how good this is. Trust me. Make it. And don’t feel guilty about it. Sometimes life needs a bit of cream and bacon and pasta.

Diced onion

Bacon

Cream and Onions

In the pan

Pasta Carbonara

  • 500 gram package of pasta (linguine, spaghetti, fettucine)
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (plus more for sprinkling)
  • salt
  • pepper

Feel free to cook the bacon as you prefer. Though, seriously, give this method a try.

Preheat oven to 400. Place bacon on cookie sheet/on rack over cookie sheet/on broiler pan (heck, I’ve even used a casserole dish; it just takes extra draining after). Cook bacon for 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp. (Err on the side of crisp because it will soften in the cream sauce later. Limp bacon will get limper. *Shudder*) Set on paper towels to drain, then set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut into smaller pieces. I usually do them a centimetre or two wide.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add onion and a pinch of salt. Saute onion until transluscent, but not brown. Add whipping cream and cook until it has reduced by about a third. It should be super thick and rich. (I usually have a little extra cream or half-and-half around just in case it reduces too much.)

While the cream is reducing, cook pasta according to the packages directions. Drain.

Mix together the cream sauce and the pasta, adding in the Parmesan cheese and tossing until mixed. Add bacon and toss again. Season to taste. (Wait until the end to season because the bacon and cheese are salty and you don’t want to oversalt it.) Serve with fresh cracked pepper and more Parmesan, if desired.