01 June, 2010

A change in plan.

A couple days ago, I'd planned to tell you a bit more about Burgundy, and then to share with you a new dessert I'd discovered and fallen in love with while visiting friends there. However, trying to replicate the dessert in question, I found myself at the center of a demoralizing fiasco. Granted, I used a blend of millet and rice flours because I'd run out of regular flour, the oven light went out, and the stars weren't in ideal alignment so maybe all that helped account for the spherical doorstop that emerged from my oven. At least the chickens loved the cake; good thing, as I'd made two doorstops.

I went into the garden and weeded, watered and pruned with a vengeance. I mulled over alternate recipes. I gardened some more. And some more after that. I suppose you could call that productive sulking. As yesterday was Mother's Day here in France and I wasn't in the mood to risk another blow to my shaken culinary ego, I opted for a more forgiving dessert, which I made with the children. The little lemon tree is hunched over with the burden of all its fruit. (I am fairly certain that heaven smells like a lemon tree). It'll soon be time for some lemon marmalade, but for now I had the kids pick some strawberries from the garden and four of the ripest lemons for a classic lemon pound cake, made with unctuous crème fraîche. This recipe allows for substitutions, such as mascarpone instead of crème fraîche, orange or lime juice and zest instead of lemon, and additions, such as poppy seeds (a 1/3 cup should do the trick). This is a rich dessert, as easy to make as it is to enjoy, and just the thing for soothing a bruised ego. Or celebrating spring, and oneself. Quatre-quarts citronné (Crème Fraîche & Lemon Pound Cake)

Serves 10-12 people.

3 1/2 cups flour (not whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
grated and finely minced zest of four lemons
1 cup crème fraîche, or mascarpone

Optional lemon glaze
2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven 180C. Thoroughly grease and flour a tube pan, or two loaf pans. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another large bowl, beat softened butter until fluffy. Adding sugar gradually, continue to beat until light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl regularly. Add lemon zest and juice. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add dry ingredients a cup at a time, just until blended. Add crème fraîche, folding until thoroughly blended. Pour the thick batter into the greased and floured pan(s). Bake for about 45 to an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Keep an eye on the color of the cake as it bakes: it shouldn't get too dark.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack, and let cool completely. (I have to write that, but I've never actually been able to keep people from "testing" it while it's still warm.)

If you want to amplify the relatively mild lemon taste, add the tangy lemon glaze. Mix confectioners' sugar with fresh lemon juice until smooth, and drizzle over the completely cooled cake and let the glaze harden.

This freshly picked bouquet was on the breakfast table. Its perfume still fills the kitchen...Happy Day to all the mothers out there.


  1. Happy Mother's Day! I guess we all loose our mojo every once in a while. Glad I'm not the only one.

  2. Hmm, cooking's one thing, I think my mojo up and went somewhere in the late 90s!


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