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Saturday, April 6, 2013
Rescued: me. Also? Lemon Cake.
Well. My stars. Where did the time go? Ah, well, the hair may change but the heart remains constant. And some of my themes are the same. A fundamental?
Rescue. I've spoken before about one of the underlying foundations of my own life, which is the role girls and women have played and continue to play in rescue, resurrection, joy and far more than those words can convey.
So then: Rescue for me. Many people are fortunate to have friends who help them through crisis and leaven their day-to-day lives. Something else has happened to me. I was rescued matter-of-factly and with no apparent thought in the years after my mother died by a group of girls. As women, they rescued me again when one of them, Carrie, was lost to us through the predations of Inflammatory Breast Cancer. As a young woman, one of them, Vicki, and her family rescued me from a broken heart and great uncertainty. For Vicki, here will follow the Lemon Cake recipe. Because she asked for it. Because it's the least thing I can do for someone who truly did rescue me. And because her family rescued me twice, without the right sort of appreciation articulated by me at the time.
Beyond childhood and my life as a young woman, there were too many rescuers to list here.I must mention that I was sometimes rescued, but more importantly today, I continue to have my life and consciousness sustained and enlivened by those who can only be described as sisters. Is this true for everyone? I'm not sure. I can only say that the benediction these sisters bring in the most prosaic and humble forms, as well as those poetic and lofty forms, constitute blessings that make life inexpressibly vibrant for me. True for you? I hope so.
So, for Vicki, here the cake recipe, or rather, the combination of a couple of recipes. At our house, this is based on the embarassing abundance of Meyer lemons our tree bears every year, but if you live in a less sub-tropical climate, you can do this with regular lemons or limes, or even with oranges. It blends a standard cake recipe from our Cake Hero Susan Purdy with a recipe for lemon curd I adapted from a Southern Living recipe. So you have to make two things: the lemon curd (make it first) and then the cake.
For Lemon Curd - and this is easier than it sounds.
Grate zest from about 6 lemons (less if you have a Meyer lemon tree in your yard - they're bigger) to about 2 tablespoons, and then sqeeze the juice to yield about a cup of juice.
In your KitchenAid mixer, or using a hand mixer, blend 1/2 cup softened butter with 2 cups of sugar til blended, then add 4 eggs one at a time, blending well. Add lemon juice, blend. Add the zest at the very end. The whole thing will look kinda curdled but this is okay. Put this into a microwave safe bowl and zap on high for 5 minutes, stirring at regular intervals, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours or until the lemon curd is firm. set aside.
For the cake - this is also easier than it sounds, and you can use this recipe for a ton of things. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of "A Piece of Cake" by Susan Purdy; she makes it all clear. This uses her Swedish Butter Cake recipe, more or less.
Back to your blender: Blend 1 cup lightly salted butter (room temp) with 1-1/2 cups of sugar until well blended. Add, one by one, 2 large eggs. Combine dry ingredients 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour (always use King Arthur flour) with 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Also set aside 3/4 cup of milk, and add to it a teaspoon of vanilla extract (or in my case, Kahlua or limoncello if I have either on hand - you can also use almond flavoring).
To the butter/sugar mixture, add the dry and wet ingredients, beginning and ending with flour; mixing well between each addition.
Place 1/3 of the cake mixture in a greased, floured tube pan. Add lemon curd; top with more cake mix; layer as you like but end with cake mix. Bake in middle of oven at 325 - 350 for 55 - 65 minutes depending on your oven. Cool on rack for 5 or 10 minutes, then invert and remove. Dust with powdered sugar. Top with fresh berries (blueberries, you Jersey girls; spring strawberries for us Plant City-ish locals.)
Sound good? Get together with your sisters. Or take a slice to that sister you love, but don't see often enough. Or serve it to anyone you love and remind them how much you love them.
Content (C) 2013 Angela Christensen
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