Sunday, March 7, 2010

Thinking of Spring

"A kitchen without a lemon is like a song without a tune." David Wheeler, writer

While I was reading a post last week at racheleats about making crackers, Rachel mentioned that Rome was experiencing spring-like weather and that she was going to be picking lemons later in the day.
We were in the middle of another snow storm with 12 inches already dumped on us. With another full day of snow expected, I thought that making these gorgeous crackers was a great way to spend the afternoon. I was prepared to do just that. But somehow I just could not get the thought of spring time in Rome or the beautiful scent of lemons out of my head.

My thoughts started to drift  towards all the wonderful food I could make with a few lemons.  Citrus is always plentiful in the winter, and the bright color and intoxicating aroma of a bowl of lemons was enticing. Because of the severe weather this winter on the East Coast, the cost of these beauties has skyrocketed. I've  seen the cost of one lemon as high as 80 cents this season. But a trip to the local vegetable market after the roads were cleared scored me eight lemons for $2.

Lemons are so versatile for use in both sweet and savory dishes that my options were vast--Marcella Hazan's fettucine with lemon cream sauce; risotto with lemon zest; Neiman Marcus' Zodiac Room's famous lemon bars; lemon ice cream; lemon martinis. This was going to be tough. Sweet won out though.

I have been experimenting of late with using olive oil in baked goods.  It seems to be the it thing among pastry chefs, and many recipes have been showing up on various sites online.  I have been baking pastry chef, Gina DePalma's,  Cinnamon Breakfast Toasts , which include olive oil, for quite some time with great success.  Also, I love her Torta di Mandorla.  But this was to be all about the citrus.

I came across a recipe for Lemon Olive Oil cake posted here which sounded great.

The cake went together quickly, and the batter smelled delicious.  Forty minutes later the cake was out of the oven and cooling.

Finally, the cake was ready for a taste test.

Unfortunately, the cake was not what I expected.  It was drier than I had anticipated and not as tender as it should have been. Perhaps I left it in the oven a couple of minutes too long or used an olive oil that was too heavy.

 I guess I'll just have to try again.  I know it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.                              


  1. I'm sorry your cake did not turn out as intended. We have a small lemon tree that we care for dearly that only manages two lemons a year. It's very small, small enough to fit in our living room when it's too cold outside. If lemons weren't so expensive I'd like to think that I would be baking more lemon cakes and lemon scented things. This winter I've fallen in love with grapefruit. Such a beast and the price is fair. Ah, citrus.

  2. Tracy--Wow, a lemon tree in Baltimore. I hope the mere fact of having it in your living room this winter helped brighten your days. Today will be an almond torte--with some lemon zest--with pears and whipped cream.

  3. The cake looks very good so I'm sorry it didn't live up to your expectations. I love lemon cakes, in fact all things lemon and I am very jealous of Rachel's lemon horde in recent weeks.

  4. Kath--Yesterday's almond torte with some lemon zest was a success, though.

  5. Oh that sounds very good indeed, are you posting about it soon? I hope so.