Meyer Lemon-Bay Leaf Pound Cake

_MG_6094 _MG_6085Sorry for the long absence, everyone. I was in Minnesota for a few days at the beginning of the month, and then I was feeling kind of stuck in the winter doldrums. Anyone else feeling like they need a tropical getaway right about now?_MG_6081

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Thankfully, this weekend was slightly warmer (almost 60 degrees in NYC!) and after seeing this lovely cake over on 101 Cookbooks, I was feeling inspired. If you've been reading this site for a while, you probably know that I love lemon desserts, and this cake was no exception. Not too sweet, with a hint of herbal flavor that adds depth and compliments the Meyer lemons very nicely. You could easily substitute oranges or regular lemons, depending on your personal preference and what you have on hand._MG_6083

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Meyer Lemon-Bay Leaf Pound Cake (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

6 tablespoons / 3 ounces / 85 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon butter, for piping

10 fresh or dried bay leaves 1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup  granulated sugar 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 3 large eggs, at room temperature 1/2 cup sour cream finely grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Orange Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon orange liquor, such as Grand Mariner or Cointreau (optional)

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add 3 of the bay leaves. Let steep for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan. Dust with flour and tap out any excess. If possible, line the bottom with parchment paper. Dab one side of the remaining 7 bay leaves with a little bit of butter and place the leaves, evenly spaced, on the bottom of the prepared pan, buttered side down.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla until combined. If needed, barely rewarm the butter to liquify it and pluck out the bay leaves. Whisk the butter into the egg mixture.

With a spatula, gently stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture, just until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, being careful not to disturb the leaves (alternately, top the cake with any remaining leaves). Put the remaining 1 tablespoon of softened butter into a plastic bag, snip off a corner, then draw a straight line of the butter down the center of the cake. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It's better to slightly under bake, than over bake this cake.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and then tip out onto a cooling rack, remove leaves, and let cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and orange liquor (if using). Stir until smooth, then spread the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides and harden.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Orange-Olive Oil Cake

Another cake post, I know. For some reason I have been on kind of a baking spree lately. Perhaps it's the crazy weather, 70 one day and 50 and raining the next. Perhaps it's waiting for spring produce to arrive. Or maybe I've just been craving sugar. Either way, this cake is not very sweet and could possibly be called somewhat healthy, due to all of the olive oil (healthy calories!) and orange juice. Or at least that's what I tell myself after my second slice. So far I have resisted eating it for breakfast, but it's been close. Throw a dollop of yogurt on there and some (unsweetened) berries, and you are basically eating a yogurt parfait. With cake, but that's beside the point. Orange-Olive Oil Cake (adapted from Food & Wine)

3 cups cake flour

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup olive oil

1 cup milk

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

Juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)

1/4 cup Grand Marnier

For strawberries:

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced

2 tablepoons sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Plain greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan, then line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk olive oil, milk, eggs, orange juice, zest, and Grand Marnier. Add dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and invert cake onto rack, letting cool for at least two hours.

Meanwhile, mix strawberries, zest, sugar, and Grand Marnier in a medium bowl. Let sit for about half a hour, until juice begins to form.

Slice cake, and top with a spoonful of greek yogurt, strawberries, and more orange zest.

Citrus Chiffon Cake

In honor of Sunday night's Mad Men premiere (so great. It's been far too long!) A. and I went over to my friend Justin's house for a retro dinner, including deviled eggs, tea sandwiches, and classic iceberg wedge salads (and, of course, Manhattans and martinis). I was in charge of dessert, and decided to make a chiffon cake, a first for me. Chiffon cake is similar in theory to a soufflé, folding egg whites separately into the dough. Mine collapsed -- actually not sure if that's supposed to happen, but I think so? In any case, it did make a nice, light dessert after a '60's-inspired dinner. Lemon Chiffon Cake (adapted from Food & Wine)

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

Pinch salt

6 large eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

Juice and zest of two lemons

1 tablespoon orange zest

Pinch cream of tartar

For glaze:

2 tablespoons orange juice

3/4 cup (or more) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a nine-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks, sugar, and lemon and orange zest with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in melted butter. Alternately add dry ingredients and lemon juice, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup powdered sugar and beat until glossy and stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 egg whites into mixture, then add the rest and mix until just combined. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake until top springs back when lightly pressed, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: in a small bowl, combine orange juice and powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.

Remove cake from pan and cool on rack. When cool, drizzle glaze over.