I had to take a break from cookie baking. Plus, it felt like I was being unfair to the cake. In keeping with the "only happy things" posting theme for December, I am sharing this amazingly delicious lemony slice of heaven with you. If you are stuck for a gift idea for special foodies in your life, might I strongly suggest you give this recipe a try. Seriously. I'm on my "almost" third piece this morning already. The addition of ground almonds to the batter took this bread to a new level in my opinion. There is this sweet, crunchy-almond-y, lemon-y pizazz you get when you bite into this. The browning of the crust occurred after I baked mine in an old metal loaf pan once belonging to my mother. Mmm. I will promptly be hitting the treadmill this afternoon.
I have a trip coming up here shortly. I'm heading back "home". Indiana. I have not been home in sixteen years. My last visit was for my mom's funeral. (I wouldn't really call that a visit as much as a mandatory march.) She wasn't from here either.
Not being from here is a challenge at times. Missouri can be a less-than-welcoming sort of place for transplants. In fact, it can be so burdensome, there's an entire website and local grassroots organization dedicated to just that: Helping newbies feel like they have a place here in this wonderful golden-arched city: St. Louis Transplants. Identity in this fair city is placed on one long-held belief that an answer to a single question determines your St. Louis-ness more than any other:
What high school did you go to?
You need thick skin is all I'm saying. Well. You do.
Enough of that for now. I said I'd keep to "happy" thoughts this month!
While tidying up the house before my trip, I have baked like a mad woman. Nearly to the brink of insanity. That's how it is with me every Christmas season. In November I shrug off the idea of even getting in the holiday spirit at all. Bah. It's actually the pagan in me that gets emotional over the changing seasons. And then the holiday itself sort of creeps into my bones and I, like the Grinch, begin to see and feel the meaning of Christmas. I don't imagine anyone will ever write this about me:
She just ADORED Christmas. . . it was her favorite time of year!
(Hardly.) Perhaps they might write this:
She'd go into December kicking and screaming, crying out, Oh The Humanity! Pulling yet another sweet concoction from her oven. Finally smiling at the stacked old tupperware containers filled with cookies galore of yesteryear, nursing a pretty good sugar coma, she'd declare: Oh how I adore my time in my kitchen!
So I thought I'd take one moment out of this insane time of year and bake something just because it sounded perfect to ME. Lemon Tea Cake. Yum. (I talked to my sister this morning and she has made it clear she, too, would love some lemon tea cake!) Well, I think Santa can handle that little request.
And then, some kitsch for the house. I've seen these crocheted snowflakes here and there on my cruises through Ravelry and in my too-many-to-count knitting and crochet magazines (that somehow always end up in my shopping cart), that this year I was convinced I needed, HAD to make some cute little snowflakes. These are precious. And really fun to make. Addictive a bit, I'd say. One of the patterns came from a favorite site of mine, from Lucy at Attic 24.
I don't know whether or not I'll string them together for garland or turn them into ornaments. Decisions. Decisions.
Today it's nearly sixty degrees outside! Windows and doors are open for some fresh air. Our boy loves sunning himself.
Give this tea cake/bread a try. I swear you'll love it! It comes together in a snap, too. I was selfish and only made one loaf. If you wanted to double the ingredients to make two loafs or three mini-loafs, you very much could. Just adjust the baking time.
Vegan Lemon Almond Tea Cake with Lemon Glaze
*Adapted from, The Perfect Cake by Susan G. Purdy
1/2 cup whole almonds
1 cup Florida Crystals sugar
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted vegetable margerine (stick)
3 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons water
zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (*optional)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (*optional)
6 tablespoons unsweetened soy or almond milk
For Lemon Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
juice of half a lemon
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan with non-stick baking spray. Set aside. Zest and juice your lemon and place all in bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a food processor, add the half cup of almonds and 2 tablespoons of the pre-measured cup of sugar and pulse together until small chunks form. You don't want a powder, but chunks. In the bowl of a large mixer, cream together the margerine and remaining sugar. Add your egg replacer, mix for another minute or so. Next, add the extracts and lemon juice and zest. Next, add a third of the flour mixture and half of the milk mixture. Mix just until incorporated--about ten seconds. Repeat with the remaining milk / flour mixture--ending with the flour. Batter will be on the thick side. A few dry clumps will be okay. Next, fold in the chopped almond/sugar mixture. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, using a spatula, smooth the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out with a few crumbs on it). If you under bake this, your loaf will sink in the middle! So just keep an eye on it. You don't want to over bake it either. While the loaf bakes, whisk together the lemon juice with powdered sugar and set aside until the loaf is ready. After the loaf has baked, allow it to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan. With a fork, poke the top of the loaf three or four times. Next, spread the lemon glaze over the top. Allow loaf to cool completely. Store wrapped well in the fridge. Yum!