So. Lemon cake. Yay.
Sorry to be so ‘meh’ about it, I’ve meant to blog about this for days but it’s been an interesting week. Thunderstorms knocking out our power all day/half the night, cleaning furiously, working desperately to get Peter’s room in some sort of order, working on a seemingly never-ending list of errands that all seem to appear out of nowhere and need immediate assistance… And we had the Pancake Incident of 2010.
Let me backtrack a little bit. See, nowadays when I do any baking or cooking in the kitchen, I have a midget-sized dictator who demands that he be right in the middle of the action, who screams and carries on to such a degree that I have decided that I will not fight it any longer, let the darn kid participate. So every time I make anything in the kitchen, I prep the counter first with a small bowl, some measuring cups and spoons, and something innocent to dip/”measure”/pour – water, some flour maybe, some fruit or veggies. You get the idea, keep him close so he can watch and follow along on his own, like a cooking show. This all works perfectly about 99% of the time.
Tuesday was not one of those times.
Tuesday I was tired when we got home from work/daycare, I didn’t have any meat thawed out for dinner, and there was a container of chopped strawberries in the fridge that probably needed to be eaten within a day. Perfect evening for pancakes for dinner, yes? So I gathered all the necessary ingredients, keeping all the dry stuff on Peter’s side for playing – flour, salt, baking soda. I whipped up the wet ingredients, then pulled over Peter’s stool so he could help. He rushed right over and got to work. This should be fairly easy.
I carefully measure my flour, my salt. Before I can do anything else, Peter casually leans over and dumps, oh – probably a ¼-cup of baking soda in my bowl. Er. Great. I fished out as much as I could, but the batter was super-salty. Ew. In an attempt to salvage the batter, I get busy doubling all the other ingredients, grabbed some Greek yogurt out of the fridge to counteract the fizzy salty madness, and then I heard it. That distinctive noise you recognize all too well when you have a toddler: Peter is choking. He is choking on… baking soda. So I reach over to grab him so I can whap him on the back – my signature choking-toddler move – and in that split second, I see that he’s clutching my favorite mixing bowl, the one I set out for him for playing. Muzzy got it for me, it’s a sunny yellow hue with a delicate pattern stamped into the clay, and has a little handle and a spout. My batter bowl. So anyway: as I snatch him that bowl goes sailing through the air, smashing to the floor and shattering into a million smithereens. My mouth agape. Good bye, my beloved batter bowl.
But back to the choking baby! So I drag him to the garbage can, whack him on the back and (begrudgingly) get him to drink water and whew, then I check the baking soda box – yeah, he ate a decent amount. Maybe a third of the box? I couldn’t remember how full it was to begin with, and there’s quite a bit dusting the floor as well, but still. GROSS.
I shoo him out of the room, then sweep up the clay shards and powder. Twice. Then I mop. Then dump the pancake batter down the garbage disposal, because there’s no saving it. Hopefully we have enough leftovers for us to eat for dinner. And hey, but the kid sure is making a funny noise…
I got suspicious about the baking soda, so decided to google it. And hey whaddaya know – baking soda can be fatal to small children. It messes up their electrolyte levels, causing vomiting and seizures and ultimately organ failure… So then I had the pleasure of a nice long chat with a lovely woman at poison control. He farted and burped his way through the night, and I had to keep checking to make sure he didn’t bust out into seizures. IT WAS AS FUN AS IT SOUNDS. I told daycare all about it the next day, just to warn her in case his back-end starts erupting like a grade-school volcano diorama.
I will be shocked if this kid lives to see his 2nd birthday, I swear.
But anyway! All that talk, let me get to the point: my son, he helps out in the kitchen a lot. It’s messy but fun and I might overlook an instruction or two while I keep Doots from seriously maiming himself with a whisk. And so, even though I have made this cake a million times (and always to many thanks for bringing the FANTASTIC LEMON CAKE OMG), I missed the important notation to make sure you bake it in something you can line with parchment. I tried to make this cake in a bundt pan this time. It, uh – didn’t quite come out of the pan as I had hoped. Great fluffy mounds of cake kind of plopped out when I flipped it onto a cooling rack, but no matter. I still lovingly poured warm lemon syrup on them and then iced them when cooled. And ate them for breakfast, as a snack, and dessert. This cake, it is ahhh-mazing. Ina Garten has never let me down, this is true, but this is in all truth my most favorite recipe of hers.
Try it. I would recommend using a pan you can line with parchment, though. The results will be much prettier.
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
2 1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs (at room temperature)
1/3 c. grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 c. buttermilk at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 -inch loaf pans. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and makes a syrup. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.