Lemon Crumb Coffee Cake

lemon crumb coffee cakeBaking involves plenty of adaptation, based on your creativity, experience, and observations. This lemon crumb coffee cake began with a desire to use up lemon curd in a new way, and involves two adapted recipes; one for lemon coffee cake, and one for a lemon streusel topping.

The cake recipe is adapted from Taste of Home, which used lemon pie filling between two layers of the cake batter instead of lemon curd, and the lemon streusel topping is adapted from King Arthur Flour. While it tastes delicious, this cake definitely needs some further tweaking, for a few reasons. The cake is far more gooey than I expected, likely because of the curd; next time, I’ll either drizzle about 1 cup of curd over the first layer of batter, or leave it out altogether and add some lemon zest and extract to the batter, then serve the cake with lemon curd on the side.

Ingredients

For the streusel:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

For the cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups lemon curd*

*If making lemon curd from scratch, use this recipe but decrease your quantities by 1/4. You could also decrease the lemon curd to about 1 cup drizzled, rather than spread, over your first layer of batter to yield a less gooey texture when the cake is done.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 cake pan.

Make the streusel: in a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt, and brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans.

For the cake: in a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, vegetable oil, and mix until completely smooth. Add flour mixture slowly, stirring to combine completely. Batter will be very thick.

Spoon half of the batter into the baking pan, spreading out to make an even layer.

In a mixer, beat lemon curd for about 1 minute to thin out slightly. Pour over cake batter, then top with remaining batter and smooth out as best you can; this batter is very thick and is a challenge to spread evenly. I ended up swirling it into the lemon curd a bit.

Top with streusel mixture, covering the cake completely.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Note: the lemon curd made the center of my cake look under-done, but it was baked all the way through. If you need to bake your cake longer than 35 minutes, cover the top loosely with foil to prevent over-browning.

 

 

Lemon Curd II

meyer lemon tartletsAs I’ve mentioned before, making lemon curd makes me feel like a superwoman. A few months ago, I learned how to temper eggs, and ever since I’ve felt a profound sense of accomplishment. First, I conquered vanilla cream pie, my first successful egg-tempering endeavor. Then came my first try at lemon curd, which used only egg yolks and yielded a lovely, tangy, brilliant yellow concoction that I then served with lemon poppy seed scones. This most recent attempt went into tartlets, as pictured at left.

This lemon curd is different than my first attempt, in that it uses whole eggs and not just yolks. The end result of this curd is a lighter, creamier curd in both color and flavor. You can certainly use regular lemons if you choose, but I had some Meyers around, so that’s what I used here. I look forward to experimenting with lime and orange curds someday as well.

What can you do with lemon curd? So, so much. You can put it in tartlets or use it as a filling for cakes and cupcakes, serve it with scones, sandwich it between cookies, layer it in trifles, plop it into graham cracker crust and top it with whipped cream for a pie, eat it with a spoon…the list goes on. Whatever you do, just be sure you follow the recipe, particularly with regard to the straining of the eggs before and the second straining of the curd once it’s been cooked; this ensures that you get a smooth, clump-free result.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (I used 4 small/medium-sized Meyer lemons)
  • zest of 4 lemons
  • 8 tablespoons butter

Preparation

Lightly beat eggs and pass them through a fine sieve to remove the albumin. Set aside in a medium bowl (or a large, 4-cup glass measuring cup for easy pouring) close to the stove for easy access; thoroughly wash your sieve and place it nearby for a second straining once the curd has cooked.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until completely combined. Add butter and cook on medium heat until thickened and bubbly.

Working quickly, pour about half of the hot lemon mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper. Pour egg mixture back into the pan and cook and stir for 2 minutes more.

Pour mixture through your sieve to remove the zest; press waxed paper (or plastic wrap) onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Once curd is completely cooled, place in an airtight container. According to various food safety websites and other food blogs, lemon curd should last in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

Poppy Seed Scones with Lemon Curd

poppy seed sconesOne hundred and fifty recipes ago, I decided to become a blogger. You really have no idea how many recipes exist in the world until you become a food blogger, scouring the internet for the most interesting, challenging, tasty treats in existence. Many of my recipes have come from cookbooks and websites, but some of my favorites are the ones that I adapt from other bloggers. I feel a kinship with these individuals, who share my passion for this creative and delicious pursuit.

Two of my favorite ingredients are poppy seeds and lemons, so it’s fitting that tonight’s post involves both. Poppy seeds and lemons are good friends flavor-wise, so a basic poppy seed scone was easily enhanced with a bit of Meyer lemon zest and the lemon curd I made a few nights ago. If you’re out of lemon curd, you could boost the lemon flavor in these scones by covering them with a powdered sugar/lemon juice drizzle icing. 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, plus 1 tablespoon to brush on the tops of the scones
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • About 1 tablespoon sugar, to sprinkle on the tops of the scones
  • Lemon curd, for serving

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add butter and toss to coat, then rub the butter into the flour mixture with your hands until the mixture just begins to stick together when you pinch it between your fingers.

Add poppy seeds and lemon zest; stir with a fork to combine. 

Combine beaten egg and buttermilk and stir into the flour mixture until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Pat into an 8 x 4 rectangle and cut into quarters, then cut each quarter in half, yielding 8 scones.

Place scones on prepared baking sheet and brush with buttermilk, then sprinkle with sugar. 

Bake for 14-16 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Serve warm or cool with lemon curd. 

Lemon Curd

lemon curdWhat can I say about lemon curd? I love it. And now, I know how to make it…which makes me feel like a superwoman. There’s something about successfully tempering egg yolks that gives me an incredible sense of accomplishment, like I’ve just climbed the Mount Everest of confections.

I had six egg yolks left over from this weekend’s baking, and I wanted to use them all up in the same recipe. Fortunately, the recipe that I had for lemon curd was easily tripled to accommodate six yolks, and the adjusted recipe appears below. Also, I used Meyer lemons for this curd; Meyer lemons are thought to be a cross between a lemon and a clementine or orange and are native to China. I’ve been fascinated by Meyers for some time, and when Mike told me that Soergel Orchards had them in stock this week, I asked him to bring them home for me. You could certainly use regular lemons, of course.

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (I used 6 small/medium-sized Meyer lemons)
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 12 tablespoons butter

Preparation

Lightly beat egg yolks and pass them through a fine sieve to remove the albumin. Set aside in a medium bowl close to the stove for easy access; thoroughly wash your sieve and place it nearby for a second straining once the curd has cooked.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until completely combined. Add butter and cook on medium heat until thickened and bubbly.

Working quickly, pour about half of the hot lemon mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper. Pour egg mixture back into the pan and cook and stir for 2 minutes more.

Pour mixture through your sieve to remove the zest; press waxed paper (or plastic wrap) onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Once curd is completely cooled, place in an airtight container. According to various food safety websites and other food blogs, lemon curd should last in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

Lemon Pie Cookies

lemon pie cookiesMy grandpap, Andy Kozusko Sr., loved lemon meringue pie. My grandma Zella would make it occasionally, a labor-intensive affair involving carefully formed crust, homemade filling, and cloud-like meringue. He always proclaimed it delicious, and thanked her for making one of his favorite treats.

Girls from Pittsburgh seem to have special relationships with their grandpaps (in itself, a very Pittsburgh word). I had the fortune of living just five doors up from mine, able at any moment to skip down the sidewalk and stand by his side at his work bench or help him weed the vegetable garden. Our birthdays were four days apart, so they were often celebrated together; the year I turned five and he turned 61, we shared a Strawberry Shortcake-themed birthday cake. He was the gentlest of souls, and I lost him to lung cancer when I was in high school. To this very moment, I miss him as if it just happened yesterday.

If he were still on this earth, my grandpap would have turned 92 last week, so I made these cookies in honor and memory of him. Like his favorite lemon meringue pie, they are also quite labor-intensive, so I’m providing two ways of preparation for those who are short on time.

Version 1:

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pie crust
  • 2 10-ounce jars lemon curd
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • sugar, for sprinkling

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Prepare egg wash by whisking egg and water together; set aside.

Prepare pie crust and roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut circles and set aside; re-roll scraps and continue cutting circles of dough until you’ve used it all and have an equal number of top circles and bottom circles for the cookies.

Take each circle and roll it out again, to about 1/8 inch thickness; you want the crust to be thin, but not so thin the cookies will burst when baking.

Spread about 1 teaspoon of lemon curd onto one circle, leaving about 1/4 inch border at the edge, then top it with another circle of dough. Pinch the edges together, place on the prepared cookie sheet, then press the edges closed with the tines of a fork.

You should be able to fit about 6 cookies on each cookie sheet; once your sheet is full, brush each cookie with the egg wash, sprinkle it with sugar, and cut a vent in the top of each cookie.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges just begin to turn golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on a wire rack.

Version 2: Please note that this is not how I prepared my cookies, though the original recipe called for this kind of preparation using store-bought pie dough.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pie crust (you will only need two of the three crusts that the recipe yields)
  • 1 10-ounce jar lemon curd
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Prepare pie crust and roll out two circles to about 1/4 inch thickness and 9 inches in diameter; it will be important for your crusts to line up so that you can place one over the other.

On the bottom crust, spread lemon curd, leaving about 1/4 inch border at the edges. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut through both layers of crust. Transfer cookies to prepared cookie sheets and press edges to seal, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and cut a vent in each top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges are just golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on a wire rack.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

strawberry lemonade cupcakesToday, Soergel Orchards is having their annual Strawberry Festival. Beyond picking your own berries in their fields, you can get your face painted, go on a hay ride, jump in a bouncy castle, or in my case, enter a strawberry recipe contest.

How does the self-taught baker set out to win her first competition? She thinks about what she’d want to eat, and goes from there. This recipe is a confectionery interpretation of an iconic summer drink, and I’m proud to say that it won first place.

 

Strawberry Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping cup strawberry puree
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 cup lemon curd, at room temperature

Preparation

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line cupcake tins with 16 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together strawberry puree, milk, vanilla, and lemon zest; set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until light in color. Gradually add sugar and beat until fully incorporated; scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently. Add egg and egg whites, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated.

Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the strawberry mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently and beat for 1-2 minutes after the last addition of flour to make sure all ingredients are well incorporated.

Scoop batter into prepared cupcake tins, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean; cool on a wire rack.

Using the small end of a melon baller, scoop out a small amount of cake from the center of each cupcake; fill with lemon curd (a half-teaspoon measuring spoon works well for filling if you don’t want to use a piping bag). Frost with fresh strawberry buttercream; store cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Bring cupcakes to room temperature before serving.

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • Scant ¼ cup strawberry puree

Preparation

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and lemon juice on low speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Gradually add powdered sugar, in half-cup increments, beating until fully incorporated.

Add strawberry puree, mixing until completely incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop frosting onto tops of cupcakes and spread with an offset spatula. Frosting can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days; refrigerate cupcakes after they are filled and frosted for up to 3 days.

Note: you can adjust the sweetness or tartness of this frosting very easily by adding more lemon juice or puree; you’ll just need to add more sifted powdered sugar so the frosting isn’t too runny.

Victory! Yep, that’s me with the star of today’s festival, The Strawberry.

strawberry festival