Thursday, June 27, 2013

Experiment #35: Lemon Bars

Back in college I bought this book on sale at the local bookstore called The Bed & Breakfast Cookbook by Martha W. Murphy.  The recipes include all your favorite brunch recipes like eggs, pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc.  I made a few recipes from the book, a Cinnamon Coffeecake and lemon bars.  Back in college, I used to use a lot of sugar and no whole wheat.

Now I reduce the sugar in all of the recipes that I make and I think it helps the flavor of the other ingredients to shine.  Lemon is one of my favorite flavors and our lemon tree is still producing a large amount of lemons so I decided that it was time to make a batch of lemon bars.

I decided that I would try to make the crust with half white whole wheat replacing half of the all purpose flour.  I also ran out of regular sugar for the filling and had to use some powdered sugar.  Somehow I ended up with 2 unopened bags of powdered sugar and no regular sugar.  Ha!

Lemon Bars adapted from Bed and Breakfast Cookbook by Martha W. Murphy
Shortbread crust:
1 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar), sifted
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour

4 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust: 
Combine the flour, sugar and butter together thoroughly.  You can use a fork.  I used a pastry cutter.  It helps if the butter is very soft, at room temperature.  Pat into greased 9" X 13" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 25 minutes or until golden.

To make the filling:
Combine eggs, sugar and lemon juice and beat well.  In a separate bowl mix other ingredients; add to egg mixture and combine well.

Pour over the baked crust.  Return to oven and bake at 350 degree F for an additional 15 to 25 minutes.

Cool thoroughly on a rack, then cut into bars. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar if you want.

The lemon bars were delicious!  I thought the half whole wheat crust was tasty.  The bars were good, but I would make more filling as I thought the ratio of filling to crust was a bit off.  I might try to do twice the filling.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Experiment #34: Glazed Lemon Bundt Cakes

It was a birthday of a friend at work who like lemon.  Lucky for her, her birthday coincides with the largest cache of lemons in the history of our lemon tree at home.  We have so many lemons that unfortunately one of the branches broke.  :( C'est la vie!

Anyways, I remember looking at lemon cake recipes on Martha Stewart and finding a reasonably easy looking lemon pound cake.  I decided that I would make it into a mini bundt cake so that it would be a little cute cake.  Food is ever so much cuter when it's little right?  I also knew that she probably would already have a cake coming so a personal sized cake was in order.

Although I generally automatically change 1/2 of the white flour with whole wheat flour, I do believe that some occasions it just won't be a good idea.  This recipe is one of those times.  I wanted the yellow of the lemon to shine through the cake and not be muddied by the slight brownish quality of white whole wheat.  I love lemon as well so I wanted to increase the lemon juice and zest for an added punch of flavor.

The original recipe calls for mixing this cake with a mixer, but I just mixed it with hand using very very soft butter.  I left it out at room temperature for a while before I even started this cake.

Per my usual MO, I decreased the sugar.

Since I was trying to make a smaller cake, I halved the recipe.  This change caused a bit of trouble since I would need 1/2 an egg, so I decided to just increase the egg.

Glazed Lemon Bundt Cake adapted from Martha Stewart Glazed Lemon Pound Cake
Cake ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
zest of 3 lemons
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup organic sugar
3 large eggs

Lemon glaze ingredients:
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup powdered sugar

I did the math if you want to do a full sized bundt cake

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
zest of 6 lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup organic sugar
6 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour 4 mini bundt cake pans.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine buttermilk with lemon zest and juice.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  You can do this with a mixer if you want, but I did it will extremely soft butter and a bowl and spoon.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour mixture in three parts alternating with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat just until smooth.  Do not overmix.  (What this means is: add 1/3 of Flour mixture, then 1/2 the buttermilk mixture, 1/3 of the flour mixture, 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture, and finally 1/3 of flour mixture.  There is no need to be super accurate with this, but a rough estimate is good.)

Divid batter evenly between pans and smooth tops.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in comes our clean. These cakes took about 18 minutes in my oven, but as with all recipes, check the cakes early so that you don't overbake them and they become overdone and dry.

Cool 15 minutes and turn out cakes onto a rack.  Cool completely before glazing.

Dust with powdered sugar if you want or mix together glaze ingredients and pour over the cakes.

These cakes were delicious and very lemony. I would definitely make them again.

Link to original recipe on Martha Stewart's website:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Experiment #33: Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

Although I liked the vegan carrot cake muffins, I ended up thinking I should be a little more traditional for the actual party.  This cupcake recipe comes from Martha Stewart's web-site. She made mini cupcakes and I decided to make regular sized muffins.

I reduced the sugar and made the recipe 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white flour for the white flour called for in the recipe.  I also eliminated the raisins, because I like carrot cake without raisins, but if you like them then put them back in the recipe.  I liked the brown sugar in the vegan carrot cake muffins so I used that instead of regular sugar.

Carrot Cake Muffins adapted from Martha Stewarts Carrot-Cake Mini Cupcake recipe
Makes 12 muffins
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated carrot

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: sugar, eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla until combined.

Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients until combined.  Stir in the grated carrot just until combined.

Place muffin liners in muffin pan and add batter to each muffin cup.  I used an ice cream scoop so that they would be uniform.

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean.  It took my oven about 18 to 20 minutes, but always make sure not to overbake your cakes.  Check them around 18 minutes.  Overbaked cakes are dry and not delicious!

I made cream cheese frosting for these cupcakes using organic cream cheese, organic powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla extract. (8 oz. cream cheese, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla). I finely grated orange zest over the cupcakes with a microplane.

The cupcakes turned out perfect. Slightly sweet and very moist.  I would definitely make these again.

Link to the original recipe: