Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Who Doesn't Love Lemon?

by Lucy Arlington
Last week it was my turn to host our weekly art group. I'm a novice at painting, but am enjoying it immensely, partially because I'm tapping into another creative outlet (one can't write all the time!), and partially because of the camaraderie within the
group. We are a fun bunch of women who spend two and a half hours every week painting, drawing, and socializing. We also drink coffee and eat goodies. Now, I’m the type of person who feels compelled to provide only home-baked goods to my guests. So I pored through my recipes, trying to decide what to serve. My family's favorite oatmeal-cranberry cookies? Almond-apricot biscotti? Cream cheese brownies?

I finally made my choice, mainly because the more sweet recipes I perused, the stronger became my cravings for two things: a buttery cakey texture and the tartness of lemon. Thus, the evening before our meeting, I creamed butter and sugar, whisked flour with poppy seeds, zested and squeezed lemons and baked my favorite lemon poppy-seed loaf.

Of course it was a big hit, and aided our artistic inspiration considerably. The key to the loaf's tartness and moistness is the glaze that I brush on while it’s still hot--sugar dissolved in lemon juice that soaks through the loaf--so that what you end up getting is a buttery cake with the tart sweetness of lemon. Who could resist that oxymoron?

LEMON POPPY SEED LOAF

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1½ cups flour

3 Tbsp poppy seeds

1 Tbsp grated lemon rind

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

½ cup milk

Lemon Syrup:

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp grated lemon rind

1/3 cup lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease an 8- X 4-inch loaf pan.

2. Beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, poppy seeds, lemon rind, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture alternately with milk, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of milk. Spread into loaf pan.

4. Bake in centre of 325° oven for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Place pan on cooling rack.

5. LEMON SYRUP: In saucepan warm together sugar and lemon rind and juice until sugar dissolves. With skewer, pierce hot loaf in 12 places right to bottom; pour lemon syrup over loaf.