Sunday, January 23, 2011

A New Friend!

I'm at that age where my friends have started to have babies...  For some reason I have never been fond of giving flowers for the birth of a baby.  In my head I imagine the parents being so busy that they never get a chance to enjoy the flowers (poor flowers!) and lately it seems everyone gives the same things for baby from Target or Baby Gap.  And even though I would love to gift Sophie the giraffe or the baby favorite Moo Baa La La La- you never know if the baby already has it.  If I were a new mom, I would want someone to cook me a meal!

On Friday I went to visit my new friend Baby John and his mom and dad!  John was born in December and is a cutie patootie.  His mom is often my lunch buddy and we often try to keep it healthy or follow the 80/20 rule.  With that in mind I brought over a healthy but deeelish Chili Chicken Verde and some yummy cornbread.  But knowing the new mom, I knew I had to go the extra mile and create a dessert!  Since the meal was pretty healthy (I lightened up the cornbread a bit) I went for a dessert that was bright, yummy and easy to eat.  (She might only have one hand to eat it while holding baby John!)  I had some Meyer Lemons left over from my last trip to the farmers market that were just begging to be used.  So I decided on a Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake.  I made some slight edits to lighten it up, I need to try this again since I think I might have made one too many...

Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake (Slightly Lightened Up)
      recipe adapted from

2 2/3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 1/3 cups sugar (I used 2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large eggs (room tempature)
2/3 cup heavy cream (I used yogurt)
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
juice of 1 Meyer lemon (optional)
1 stick plus 7 Tablespoons butter (I used 1 stick plus 1/2 cup applesauce)

For the Syrup
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
juice of 1-2 lemons

Baking the Cakes:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour two 8 1/2 x4 1/2 inch loaf pans.

2.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. 

3. Put sugar and lemon zest in the bowl and mix together till the oils from the lemon peel are infused into the sugar. 
4.  Add in the eggs and whisk them into the sugar, beating until they are incorporated.  Whisk in the vanilla extract and the yogurt. 

5.  In 3-4 parts slowly add in the dry ingredients until the batter is smooth.  Finish by adding in the lemon juice, butter and applesauce.  Pour the batter into the two pans and smooth the surface if necesary. 

Sprinkle some almonds on top!
 6.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife comes out cleanly from the center of the cakes.

For the sauce:

1.  Stir the water and sugar together on medium heat till the sugar is disolved.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add in the lemon juice.  Remove the syrup from heat and let cool. 

2.  Brush cakes with syrup while cakes are still hot so that the cakes absorb it all. 

The cake came out pretty and the taste was bright and sunny,  However I didn't really love the texture of the cake.  It was a little crumbly, kinda like a polenta or olive oil cake.  I reread some of the comments at Joy the Baker and it seemed some people did mention a crumbly texture...  If I were to redo it, I think I would either just replace the butter OR the heavy cream.  (I think reducing the sugar was fine, esp since there is sugar in the glaze)  Perhaps taking away both took away the dense, creamy texture too much.  Hopefully John's mom and dad won't notice- since they are so tired with the new baby and happy to eat!  The Brazilian gave it two thumbs up (but he loves all sweets).