May 5, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Between cancelled flights, an onslaught of interviews for a new article, finishing up at work last week and houseparties this past week, the downtime conducive to actually putting a coherent sentence together has been pretty much non-existent. While I haven’t been writing, I have had mouth surgery, made a trip to the emergency room with excruciating chest pain related to an antibiotic I have been taking, barely recovered from that and jet-setted across the country. But I am now back home with very little to discuss that does not have to do with beer — be it the drinking it, the after effects of it, or the new article I’m writing that is all about beer. That said, I left campus again feeling like I finally had a clean slate to start next year on, summer funding secured, a new major that I am actually excited about, and a lineup of junior paper topics that I can’t wait to start thinking about (someone studying for finals right now, feel free to punch me in the face here).
It’s disconcerting going back to campus. The lawns are still pristine, the grass cut, the walk to the Street still feels like second nature. It’s like it has stopped in time. Sure, someone may have a new boyfriend and someone else may be about to graduate, but otherwise not much has changed. It brings a new definition to the “Orange Bubble.” I took a trip in New York City one evening to meet a friend I had met in Paris of all places. As I stepped out off the escalator of Penn Station and the world screamed and pushed around me, I was reminded of how much comfort I found on my trips to the city during school (though they were not many), because the city actually feels like life. It makes even a city girl, born and raised, feel like she just left the farm for the first time.
But today is not for beer drinking, rather it is for margarita drinking and taco eating and and and it’s Cinco de Mayo!!! Okay, so this isn’t actually a margarita and it’s actually lemon, though I’m sure it would work with lime as well, but it still fits the theme because — and really listen to this — all you have to do is throw a lemon in the blender with some sugar and there you have a tart. Genius.
Whole Lemon Tart
This is a bit different than your standard lemon tart as it actually tastes like the whole lemon, rind and all. It’s a bit scary to throw the whites of the rind into a tart filling and I admit I wasn’t completely sold on first bite, but once the tart cooled and chilled, I really changed my opinion on it. I’m not sure I’m willing to leave my dearest lemon curd behind, but make this version at least once as a novelty.
1 average-sized lemon (about 4 1/2 ounces; 130 grams), rinsed and dried
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons (12 grams) cornstarch
1 stick (4 ounces; 115 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 9-inch tart shell (or use your favorite rectangular tart pan) made with Smitten Kitchen’s Sweet Tart Dough, partially baked and cooled
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Slice whole lemon in half and pull out seeds from it and the half. Then cut lemons into small pieces.
Throw lemons and sugar in blender or processor and pulse, blend and scrape down sides until you have smooth consistency. Add the eggs, egg yolk, butter and cornstarch, and pulse and blend until filling is thoroughly mixed. Pour the filling into partially baked crust.
Carefully transfer baking sheet to oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake tart for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t be alarmed when filling starts to bubble up. Tart is baked when the filling is set, but still shaky in the center and top has a sugary crust. Don’t worry if it bubbles some, mine overflowed and the fire alarm went off.
Transfer tart pan to cooling rack and let cool to room temperature. Serve with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.
April 11, 2011 § Leave a Comment
This weekend I went down the hill to the Alemany Farmers’ market for the first time — ever. It’s odd that, even though we live in such close proximity to it, we always chose the market at the Ferry Building. Perhaps that market has a soft place in my heart after many mornings when I was younger spent at the old Embarcadero parking lot location eating watermelon and root beer flavored honey straws. But these days that location is madly overrun with people, so we went for a quick stop at the Hayes Valley Grill stand for the mandatory crab cake sandwich — char-grilled crusty roll, creamy, toasty fresh crab, with a hearty swipe of herb aioli, mixed lettuce and sliced cabbage, and a couple of tomato slices — and a leisurely stroll through the Alemany market. We found fresh corn tortillas, spicy smoked scallops, vibrant chard in every color of the rainbow and even long stalks of sugar cane, which I had to be convinced out of purchasing before I even knew what to do with sugar cane besides eat it raw. I think I’ll be back just for the smell of corn over the fire.
Following the eating extravaganza, in which I demolished a carton of organic strawberries in a couple of minutes right there in the parking lot, I went for an afternoon run along the Sawyer Camp Trial. The trail starts as a crowded mess of weekend walkers and children biking during the first mile and then the crowds thin out, and you’re practically on your own, winding along the twists and turns of the reservoir, until you finally cross to the other side and start climbing. The trail is marked every half-mile, which makes pacing very easy but also pushes you faster than you should be going. I topped off the last mile really pushing it only to come to the realization as I sat down on the hot pavement to stretch, that the marathon is in less than a week. Cue terrified freak-out.
While we were down on the Peninsula, my mother picked up a bag of lemons from a friend’s backyard tree. A couple of extras were thrown in the paper bag upon the news that I was on a citrus curd-making spree. Following my blood orange tart, which I made a couple of weeks ago (and you can find it at Eat the Love, alongside the other fabulous citrus desserts at 18 Reasons — my skirt matches, don’t you think?), I have started branching out from my favorite lemon and discovering the ups and downs of curd making. I’ve struggled to get a firm consistency from my blood orange curd while maintaining its bright, sing-song color and zesty flavor, and I’ve found that while lime works interchangeably with lemon in my favorite recipe, it’s flavor doesn’t sing “lime.” Rather, the lime curd pops with citrus flavor, but does not meld into a distinct lime burst until after it has sat on the tongue for awhile. Which is okay I guess, when you’re eating it straight off the spoon.
August 8, 2010 § 2 Comments
When I was younger, our family spent a summer at family camps in France. I was ten years old, shy, incredibly picky about what I ate and a little intimidated about spending a couple weeks solely in the company of French kids. We spent our first week at Les Lavandes, in the town of Rémuzat near Nyons. We had a small sunny room by the field, where teenagers and young men played soccer and smoked cigarettes, and we dined in a large room at communal tables. During the daytime, I went off with the other kids my age for organized hiking and swimming. My brother was too young to leave my parents in a strange new country, though there were camp activities for his age group. So instead, I was the one of the family shoved off to do all the traditional camp activities. I played name games, learned about different trees and animals native to the region, and on the last day, accompanied the family of a new friend on a daylong hike. We packed crusty bread and cheese and set off with several other families, though not my own. At the end of the hike, my mother drove out to pick me up, because my ten-year-old self refused to camp out without my parents.
At the end of the week, we drove to a second camp called Pont-Les-Bains. There, I feasted on M&M Ice Cream Pops and played boules (bocce in Italian, which is the name most Americans know it by) with the girls my age. There, we ate at smaller family tables, much like at a restaurant. I don’t remember liking much of the food, which would explain why the M&M ice cream stands out so clearly in my mind.
Though the premise of the camp — complete immersion with real French families — made me nervous at times and I was forever self-conscious of my slight English accent which the girls my age called “adorable,” this summer stands out from any other vacation I have taken. I had never seen France quite like this before, though I had been on a couple of occasions, and I made some friends with whom I kept in touch with for many years afterward. Indeed, as a child, I was big on snail mail, with penpals in France and Australia. We would send friendship bracelets enclosed in letters decorated with colorful stickers back and forth across the oceans and I collected the cutest notecards for such occasions.
Real memories of this summer are fuzzy for me, though blurry images of cobblestone roads and small bridges remain in my mind, alongside more vivid images of vibrant purple lavender. When I got home, I collected long stalks of lavender from the farmers’ market and colorful fabrics, fashioning small lavender pouches. They smelled lovely, though I think I made more pouches than anyone in the family ever needed or wanted. Now, I know there are other uses for lavender; it can be used in many baked goods, giving classic cakes and cookies a fragrant lift. Lemon loaf is a huge favorite in my house and this is probably the best one I have ever made. The loaf is wonderfully moist, with lavender and lemon zest in the batter, and glazed with thin lemon juice icing. A light garnish of lavender is a pretty touch on top of the loaf.
Meyer Lemon Lavender Cake
From the Former Chef
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter (the original recipe called for oil)
2.5 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp fresh lavender flowers
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, lemon zest and lavender. Add the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
Once the cake is done, remove it from the oven. Using a long wooden skewer, poke holes in the top of the cake, all the way to the bottom, about 1″ apart.
You can see the original recipe for the lemon glaze, which called for heating the sugar and lemon juice to make a syrup. I simply combined the lemon juice with confectioners sugar to make a very thin icing, which I used to coat the top of the loaf.
August 3, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Once upon a time, there was a lemon tree in my backyard. It was short and planted along the walkway to the stairs leading to the basement. I am not sure why, but I don’t remember it ever growing any lemons. Maybe it did, but I do know it had difficulty with the lack of sunlight in our backyard, due to the overshadowing of the huge cedar tree.
The failures of other plants in the garden I remember more vividly. I was disappointed for weeks when my potted vegetables — lettuce, carrots and tomatoes — all failed to become edible, with only the carrots looking remotely like they should, and even then they were about a quarter of the size of my pinkie. The only plant in our backyard that produced was our white peach tree, which produced ripe, fuzzy peaches late in the summer. And then our kitchen and friends were flooded with peaches for a few weeks until our garden went back to being its usual unproductive self.
Both the lemon and peach trees are gone now; I’ll have to remember to ask my parents what happened to them. But lemons and peaches are still two of my favorite fruits to eat. I remember cutting up lemons into wedges and eating them dipped in white sugar. Lemons also bake exceedingly well in cakes and tarts; lemon loaf cake is a huge favorite in our house, as are simple lemon tarts (without the meringue).
Today, I finally managed to get David Lebovitz’ lemon curd into a tart shell. Creamy while still undisputedly tart, this curd was perfect for a delicate almond shortbread crust. I baked it in my new rectangular fluted tart pan, reminding me on the lemon tarts my brother and I used to buy by the slice at La Boulangerie Bay Bread in San Francisco.
From COOK, a oui chef journal by Connie
8 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons ground almonds
Preheat the oven to 375˚F with the rack in the center.
Combine the flour, salt and ground almonds in a medium mixing bowl.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix to combine.
Add the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and combine until a dough is formed. If the dough is too hot to handle, allow it to cool slightly.
With your hands, press the dough into a 9-in tart pan. When it comes to working up the sides, a measuring cup can help.
Bake the shell for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
June 15, 2010 § 1 Comment
There are few things that feel more comfortable than afternoon picnics in your hometown, especially when surrounded by old friends. In fact, picnics are possibility one of my favorite activities and I don’t know why we don’t have them more often. A couple weeks ago, a friend and I snatched up a reunion brunch and decided to skip out on the popular brunch restaurants in San Francisco and hold our own little picnic in Dolores Park. It has been quite awhile since then, as it was the day before I left for New York City, but it was the perfect ending to an extended stay at home. We ate our homemade bagels, muffins, salad and fruit, and this wonderful lemon-scented pull-apart coffee cake on the grass before going to Philz Coffee, which makes every cup of coffee individually, for a full cream, no sugar Mocha Tesora.
You did read correctly that we made our own bagels for the picnic. But more on that later. The black horse of the spread was the lemon bread, which really stole the limelight. It is a yeasted loaf, made by stacking layers of sweet dough with lemon zest, butter and sugar. It billowed up in the oven, creating really pretty layers of sweet bread with a bright, sunny yellow punch. One bite of this and you will never look at ordinary cinnamon coffeecake again.
Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake
Flo Braker, Baking for All Occasions, Chronicle Books, 2008
For the sweet yeast dough
About 2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the lemon paste filling
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
For the tangy cream cheese icing
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Make the sweet yeast dough
Stir together 2 cups (9 ounces) of the flour, the sugar, the yeast, and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer; set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat just until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and set aside until warm (120 to 130°F [49 to 54°C]), about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract.
Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer, and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.
Sprinkle a work surface with 1 tablespoon flour and center the dough on the flour. Knead gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about 1 minute, adding an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons flour only if necessary to lessen the stickiness. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place (about 70°F [21°C]) until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step. While the dough is rising, make the filling.
Make the lemon paste filling
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and the lemon and orange zests. Set the sandy-wet mixture nearby (the sugar draws out moisture from the zests to create the consistency).
Make the coffee cake
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. Or, lightly coat the pan with nonstick spray.
Gently deflate the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle. Using a pastry brush spread the melted butter generously over the dough. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips, each about 12 by 4 inches. (A pizza cutter is helpful here.) Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the zest-sugar mixture over one of the buttered rectangles. Top with a second rectangle and sprinkle it with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the zest-sugar mixture. Repeat with the remaining dough rectangles and zest-sugar mixture, ending with a stack of 5 rectangles. Work carefully when adding the crumbly zest filling, or it will fall off when you have to lift the stacked pastry later.
Slice the stack crosswise through the 5 layers to create 6 equal strips, each about 4 by 2 inches. Fit these layered strips into the prepared loaf pan, cut edges up and side by side. (While there is plenty of space on either side of the 6 strips widthwise in the pan, fitting the strips lengthwise is tight. But that’s fine because the spaces between the dough and the sides of the pan fill in during baking.) Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 °F [21°C]) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for baking.
Bake the coffee cake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
Make the tangy cream cheese icing
In a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula, vigorously mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the milk and lemon juice until the mixture is creamy and smooth.
To remove the coffee cake from the pan, tilt and rotate the pan while gently tapping it on a counter to release the cake sides. Invert a wire rack on top of the coffee cake, invert the cake onto the rack, and carefully lift off the pan. Invert another rack on top, invert the cake so it is right side up, and remove the original rack.
Slip a sheet of waxed paper under the rack to catch any drips from the icing. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the warm cake with the icing to glaze it. (Cover and refrigerate the leftover icing for another use. It will keep for up to 2 days.)
Serve the coffee cake warm or at room temperature. To serve, you can pull apart the layers, or you can cut the cake into 1-inch-thick slices on a slight diagonal with a long, serrated knife. If you decide to cut the cake, don’t attempt to cut it until it is almost completely cool.
June 4, 2010 § 3 Comments
Hello from New York City. I am surrounded by highrises and about to give you a little piece of sunshine. Just look at this picture and try to pretend it doesn’t make you happy. I accidentally got one of my feet in the first picture I took of this series and decided to take the rest with both feet in.
It helps that this is positively my favorite thing to eat. I have made this recipe quite a few times, each time with the intention of making a lemon tart. Somehow, the process never really gets that far along and I end up eating this lemon curd by the spoonful. Sometimes, I manage to save some to have on top of my toast for breakfast. But that’s as far as it ever gets. Maybe next time, I should think about making the tart shell first. But you and I both know that is never going to happen.
Recipe from David Lebovitz
Makes 1 cup (240 g)
1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, cubed
Place a mesh strainer over a bowl, and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, eggs, and salt.
Add the butter cubes and set the pan over low heat, whisking constantly until the butter is melted.
Increase the heat and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and just begins to become jelly-like. It’s done when you lift the whisk and the mixture holds its shape when it falls back into the saucepan from the whisk.
Immediately press the curd through the strainer. Once strained, store the lemon curd in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to one week.
May 17, 2010 § Leave a Comment
My neighborhood has been transformed in the past twenty years from a drug-infested slum to quite a happening little village-like neighborhood. The New York Times recently wrote an article about the Bernal Heights transformation, which you can read here. First came Liberty Bakery, where I spent a good amount of my childhood.
Starting when I was just a little girl, I would go to Liberty Bakery and take a seat at the counter to watch the bakers make bread and banana-cream pie. I grew up at that counter, double-dipping my croissant in homemade strawberry jam and eating the scraps of strawberry shortcake offered to me by Cathi, the owner who recently died of cancer. The Bakery started with a restaurant up front that serves amazing vegetable and chicken pot pies and Caesar salads. But my favorite was always the rosemary rolls that came to the table piping hot from the Bakery out back. I would spread them thickly with butter, which would melt all over my hands and the paper table-covering. The waiters would give me crayons with which to draw on the tabletop and they all knew my name. When I would come into the restaurant years later, they still cooed over how much I had grown.
But, when I walked up to the main street with my mother this morning to grab coffee, some things had changed again. For instance, a new grocery has opened, with sushi, deli, bakery and knife-sharpening stations as well as some organic produce. It’s like a one stop, small town store with several different vendors, all who keep their own stations and their own hours. I’m tempted to say it’s a very cute idea. The other change is a new bakery that has opened up called the Sandbox. My mother mentioned that she had wondered how the Sandbox was going to do with business as the neighborhood already has one bakery. But since Cathi’s death, Liberty Bakery’s new owners have fired all the old staff and, rumor has it, started baking ready-made croissants to sell instead of the rustic, if not entirely authentic, croissants that I loved as a child. So the Sandbox has really found its niche. It offers plenty of pastries — brioche, pain au chocolat —, cookies, scones and Japanese inspired buns. We ordered lattés and shared a raspberry-lemon marmalade bun. We also picked up a brioche for my brother and a maple apple-bacon scone to go.
I’m not sure I liked the large pieces of bacon in the scone but it was a new and interesting combination for a breakfast treat. Maybe the owners of Sandbox don’t know my name yet, but they will soon enough.
So while Bernal Heights is always changing, there will always be some things that remain constant. The local Bank of America manager will always say hello to my mother on the street. I will always be able to find a cute bakery within walking distance. Oh and Progressive Grounds will always sell me my falafel wraps for movies from FourStar Video (fingers crossed they don’t go out of business).
And then there’s the another thing that hasn’t changed since I was last at home. My brother still loves all things lemon and has compiled a baking to-do list for me that consists of, you guessed it, all things lemon. Here is the first batch of them:
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
For the Muffins:
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
For the Icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Center a rack in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong.
Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended.
Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough –a few lumps are better than over-mixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. Cool the muffins completely on the rack before icing them.
Directions for icing
Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. Then drizzle lines of icing over the tops of the muffins or coat the tops entirely.
April 30, 2010 § 3 Comments
If there is one thing I’ve learned this semester, it’s that there are people who come and go and there are people who will be there forever. There are people who are worth your time and there are people who are just…not. This semester, I’ve relied quite a bit on my two best friends scattered about the East Coast, the ones who drop everything and invite me up to visit when I call them crying. And there are my friends here, who are willing to sit around on a Thursday night while I, mid social life freakout, bake up a batch of cheesecake squares.
With the end of classes, I have twelve days left at school for the year. Visions of next year are still dancing around in my head; I’m becoming overwhelmed by all the options that are open to me. Being typically indecisive, I’m not sure what direction to go in but I know that a whole year to figure that out can only be good for me. And I know now what I have at this school — some of the best friends in the entire world — which maybe makes it an itsy-bitsy bit harder to leave.
So this one is for you all, because there is no better way to say thank you than with lemon and blueberries and cheesecake. I first stumbled upon this recipe a couple months ago and thought these squares were positively adorable. Somehow, I never made them back then. But somehow, I keep clicking on links that lead back to them — so here they are, finally. The lemon cuts the richness of the cheesecake, making them a perfect lighter dessert for summer. I love blueberries in anything, and here they are perfect little bursts of juice. I used whipped cream cheese, which I was worried about but it worked just fine. The one thing I would change next time is to increase the amount of graham crust as I found it wasn’t sturdy enough to hold up the filling. That said, there’s really no need for sturdiness, as one of my hallmates proved when she took a fork to the entire pan.
The recipe comes from Kesha at Shared Sugar. Her pictures are beautiful, check them out here.
Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from Tyler Florence
Makes 9 bars
To make the crust:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
To make the filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Butter the bottom and sides of an 8 by 8 inch baking pan. Cut two pieces of parchment paper in rectangles long enough to extend up the sides of the pan (so later you can use them as tabs to pull out the finished cheesecake bars). Place the parchment paper in the buttered pan cross-wise and press it into the corners.
Crush up the graham crackers in to dime size pieces or smaller crumbs. In a bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers. Add the melted butter and mix until the butter is incorporated. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and evenly press it into the bottom of the pan and about a 1/4 inch on the sides. Use a glass or another smooth surface to disperse the graham cracker mixture. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.
In a bowl with an electric mixer, add the cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar. Mix until the ingredients are creamy and the cream cheese is fully incorporated. Pour into the pan with the cooled crust. Then evenly distribute the blueberries.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cheesecake comes out mostly clean. Only allow the top to get a hint of brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the pan using the parchment paper.
April 10, 2010 § Leave a Comment
It’s funny how two years ago, as a spring semester high school senior, it was all the rage to want to escape home. We were all so eager to leave, bored, restless and anxious for the future. Since then, I’ve had many panicked moments thinking about the future but home is no longer a place to be escaped. I flew home yesterday morning. After all the stress of the past few weeks — and the screaming babies sitting behind me for the entire six-hour flight — all I’ve wanted to do is bake cakes. I’ve spent the past day in and out of bed and the kitchen. But if I was expecting to be comforted by the predictability of baking, it was not meant to be.
I picked the lemon-blueberry yogurt cake from one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. I had recently made her almond blueberry cake — and a pear hazelnut spin-off with dark chocolate chips — for a dinner party and so I went into the recipe with high expectations. I choose to make mini-muffins instead of the full cake, and topped them with a sprinkle of toasted coconut and the suggested lemon glaze. I added a couple extra teaspoons of lemon zest and splash of lemon juice to the batter for extra tartness. They were delicious, but a little unexpected: the texture of the muffins was much more like a flan than a cake. I admit to opening the oven and checking on them every couple minutes because I just couldn’t understand why they weren’t rising in the oven.
I have a couple theories to why they turned out this way. I did not adjust the baking temperature for the first batch of muffins, which could have contributed to them not cooking evenly through. The blueberries were also slightly damp when I folded them into the batter, making for a denser crumb. Nonetheless, these were beautiful sweet-tart bites that were a hit with the team.
Here’s the recipe from Smitten Kitchen (or go visit her site):
Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf
Adapted loosely from Ina Garten
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (if you’re skipping the fruit, you can also skip the last tablespoon of flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed (miniature wild blueberries are great for this, and pose the least risk of sinking)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, as does using a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool.