When life gives you lemons, as the saying goes, make lemon coffee cake!
Oh wait, that's not how the saying goes at all. It's actually, make lemonade! That's right. Now I have nothing against lemonade and in fact I quite like it! I am a particular fan of pink lemonade. Especially when the 'pink' comes from Strawberries. Yummm! Just as an aside, I recently had a pink lemonade popsicle from a place in Sarasota called, "Siesta Pops" and holy cats! It was so good! I want another one right this minute and then I'll probably wish I had another one tomorrow. Or would I want to try a different flavour next time instead? Hmmmm.
But I disgress. I didn't want to make lemonade. And rarely do. We usually buy our lemonade. Rather than having cases of soda in the house, we have cases of lemonade :) I don't know if it's actually any better for us health- wise than soda, but it's certainly more refreshing. At least in our opinion. Oops off track again. Where was I ?
I was talking about lemons. Yes, I remember now. Back to the story.
I don't often have spare lemons in the house. Usually I buy one lemon at each grocery shop and I use it to help clean and refresh the garbage disposal. It's not that we don't like lemon things, we do. In fact, we like them a lot! But it's not exactly a pantry staple since it is a perishable sort of thing. So I don't usually buy extra lemons for baking unless I'm planning specifically to use them. I think the last time might have been not this past Thanksgiving but the year before that when I bought lemons to make a lemon chess pie. Or perhaps it was the Christmas before last when I made cute little lemon mini bundt cakes. The point being, it's been awhile.
And then this thing happened. Two of my lovely neighbors invited me to go out to lunch with them. We went, we have a great time and then they insisted upon paying despite my protests. So to thank them, I made both a batch of banana nut muffins and chocolate chip cookie bars. FYI: This was my first attempt at baking post broken arm so for me, success was iffy, not guaranteed. Which means I was particularly pleased with the results.
I shared the muffins and the cookies with my neighbor/friends and they were surprised and pleased. Then a few days later, one of them, Joan, thanked me the cutest little potted plant. The other one, Debbie, thanked me with some lemons from her lemon tree. So naturally I had to, once again, return that favour, with yet another baked good mostly because that's all I know how to do. I am a woman of limited talents. (you see the crazy but lovely reciprocation circle we have ourselves in! )
I let the lemons inspire me and started going through my various and sundry cookbooks for a new and different lemon related recipe. I was in the mood for something interesting and excited, something I've never attempted before. It's not that my other recipes aren't good, it's that sometimes its just more fun to try something new. Especially if it's a little complicated. That's when it gets REALLY fun!
And so the search began. First I had to find a recipe that required only ingredients I already had on hand so that eliminated anything that listed "sour cream" or "buttermilk" as an ingredient. Which was a surprisingly large percentage! I continued my quest.
I had nearly given up and was about to fall back on an old favourite when I found it! Huzzah! It was perfect! It was a little different than usual, I had everything I needed already, it was new to me and it sounded like a lot of fun to put together.
I carefully read through the instructions several times and began gathering ingredients and implements. I like to have everything already assembled and ready to roll. The oven was preheated, pot holders were on standby, the pan was prepped and my apron strings were tied.
There were four parts to this recipe: The Cake, The Filling, The Streusel topping and The Glaze. But here's the unusual part - I mean if you are a baker you will understand the out of the ordinary element here - First I was supposed to make the cake batter and pour it into the springform pan but don't bake it yet. Nope, next order of business was to make the filling and pour that in on top of the cake batter. Still do not bake it. This was followed by preparing the streusel and sprinkling that on the very top of it all. THEN it goes into the oven to bake. The glaze doesn't go on top until after it's been baked, cooked, released from the springform pan and chilled for 3 hours!
Goody! A project! I rubbed my hands together with glee and got to work. I spent the next half hour or so squeezing and zesting lemons, softening butter and cream cheese and melting other butter. I measured and creamed, blended and whisked, sifted and stirred until my little arms about fell off! It was so much fun! As i put it in the oven, I had high hopes of success. It looked really good.
Here's the thing about an untested recipe though. Until you've gone through it, actually created the dish from the recipe, you really have no idea how it's going to turn out. No matter that, logically, in reading the list of ingredients and the instructions, it sounds like a good idea and regardless of the fact that I followed the instructions to the letter, in truth, sometimes, in the end, the dish is merely, okay. Sometimes even straight up, not good at all. So there is some trepidation involved.
And it's not just the amount of time spent or the cost of the ingredients, it's also the excitement and joy of being able to present a beautiful and tasty culinary delight. I imagine that it's much like a potter having an idea for making a new sort of pitcher and then lifting it from the kiln afterwards and having it come out exactly as envisioned. Very Satisfying!
Let us just say that after all that, I was quite pleased with the result.
Naturally I did have to taste test it. Quality Control is a very important part of any endeavor!
I shared it with the lovely lady who gave me the lemons in the first place. She (and especially her husband) were quite complimentary :)
Of course now I have a half a coffee cake left and honestly, Tim and I do not need to eat a half a coffee cake no matter how good it is, so probably I will end up wrapping it up and freezing the rest. And that will be the next test. Let's see how well this recipe freezes!
Life, or rather my neighbor, gave me lemons. I gave her lemon coffee cake :) It's not what you are given in life, it's what you do with it.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.