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Simple, Seasonal Baking: 3 Lemon Recipes
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If you’re new here, for each of the Celtic seasons in the Wheel of the Year, I select a hero ingredient to spotlight and share some recipes for. One of the kitchen saviours during the “hungry gap” season is citrus. Last month I shared some favourite blood orange recipes for Imbolc, but did you know that lemons are in season just now too? They offer a perfect dose of Spring freshness, pepping up even the most boring dishes - a wee zest transforming everything from soups and stews to biscuits and bakes.
There are lots and lots of lemon recipes on my blog, from lemon and elderflower shortbread to lemon and lavender cake, from lemon upside down cake (pictured above) to lemon and pistachio Battenberg. Plus remember, you’ll find a new recipe there every Sunday for your regular baking fix. Here are three of my favourite baking recipes that include lemon and practically sing of Spring. It’s just one week to Ostara, the Spring Equinox, after all!
Lemon and Honey Drizzle Cake
This cake balances sweet and sour flavours, first a lemon hit followed by the aromatic floral notes of honey that are perfect for early Spring. The lemon sponges are drizzled with a honey and lemon mixture that makes them extra flavourful, then filled and topped with a lemon and honey buttercream. To make the cake, you will need:
175g self-raising flour
175g caster sugar
175g unsalted butter
3 large free-range eggs, beaten
Zest of a lemon and one tbsp juice.
For the drizzle:
30 ml honey
60ml lemon juice.
For the buttercream:
220g icing sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of a lemon (half for the buttercream, half to decorate)
Honeycomb, to decorate (optional).
Preheat the oven to fan 160C/ 180C/ Gas 4 and grease and line two 18cm round cake tins. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs and lemon juice with a little of the flour. Fold in the remaining flour and zest and pour the mixture into the prepared tins, levelling the surface. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Make the drizzle by heating the lemon juice and honey in a small pan, then prick the surface of each cake with a skewer and pour the drizzle evenly over the surface. Cool in the tins.
Meanwhile, make the buttercream by creaming the butter and icing sugar until very light and fluffy – almost white in colour. Add the honey and lemon juice and zest and beat again until combined. Use half the buttercream to sandwich the cooled cakes together and decorate the top with the other half, along with a little lemon zest and honeycomb around the edges.
Lemon and White Chocolate Profiteroles
These profiteroles combine light choux pastry, a lemon-infused creme patissiere (set custard!) filling and generous melted white chocolate topping. If you can’t be bothered making the filling, you could simply whip cream with some lemon zest and still get the lemony hit to balance the white chocolate sweetness. To make the profiteroles, you will need:
100g plain flour
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten.
For the lemon creme patissiere:
Peel of half a lemon
10g plain flour
For the topping:
50g white chocolate, melted.
Place the water and butter in a pan and melt over a gentle heat, then bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour. Return to the heat, stirring until the mixture forms a ball that comes away from the sides of the pan. Preheat the oven to fan 180C. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then beat the eggs into the cooled mixture a little at a time.
The mixture should be smooth, glossy and a ‘dropping’ consistency that holds a V-shape if you hold up your spoon. Grease two baking trays and then run them under the tap to create a film of water that will make steam as you bake. Either pipe or spoon walnut-sized balls of choux onto the trays. Bake in the oven until golden brown, around 20 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and immediately make a small hole in each profiterole with a skewer to let the steam out. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the filling, cut the peel from the lemon, trying not to take too much white pith, and add to the milk in a saucepan. Heat the milk and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and leave the lemon to infuse for fifteen minutes or so. Then mix the egg, flour, cornflour and sugar in another pan. Add a third of the warm milk to the mixture and heat gently. Add the rest of the milk, whisking continually until the mixture thickens. Decant into a bowl and cover with cling film on the surface to avoid a skin forming. Cool in the fridge.
While the filling sets, dip or drizzle your profiteroles with white chocolate – I melted about 50g for a generous coating. Then fill each of your profiteroles with a spoonful of the creme patissiere using a piping bag – you will feel the profiterole ‘push back’ once it is full.
Lemon and Cardamom Shortbread
These lemon and cardamom shortbread combine new season freshness and comforting spice. Shortbread is quick to make and even quicker to eat; these biscuits are dipped in sugar and are dangerously moreish - you have been well warned! To make them, you will need:
175g plain flour
50g caster sugar
Zest of one lemon
One tsp ground cardamom
A small bowl with caster sugar in, for dipping.
Preheat the oven to Fan 150C. Rub the butter into the flour, mixed with the cardamom, lemon zest and sugar. Knead until the mixture comes together into a dough. Roll out to 5mm thick and cut into shapes with a cutter.
Place on trays lined with baking parchment, spaced slightly apart, and bake for 15 minutes. Leave to cool slightly on the trays then remove and dip in caster sugar. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.