Iced Lemon Squares

iced_lemon_squaresCan we talk about Facebook for a moment?  Do you think it’s Lucifer’s own handiwork or do you embrace  it with open arms? I have a friend who doesn’t go near it or Twitter because she doesn’t want to have her identity accessible or stolen or to have to read inane tweets like “Ima in the shops innit” and the like! Personally, I find Facebook invaluable for keeping up with my large and far flung family, though ironically, not my brother who is social media averse and prefers to communicate by rather more conventional means, such as the telephone. Facebook has allowed me to connect (awful, awful word, only marginally better than ‘reach out’…) with aunts, uncles, distant and not so distant cousins, nieces and nephews and watch as they grow up, get married, have children and continue that wonderful circle that is life. I have been able to stay in touch with friends who have moved away, colleagues who have moved on and teachers and parents from prep school, long after our children have  moved on to their separate senior schools. You know, the sort of people with whom it was once so easy to loose touch. I cheer along as milestones are reached, champion business endeavours and comment on birthday, wedding and holiday pictures. I have found and been found by old school friends, discovered by one of my mother’s best friends from our Kenya days and  stumbled upon family members that I would never have known otherwise. It is important not to post personal details like the year of birth, to remove geo tagging from home photos and to keep an eye on the privacy settings but in general, Facebook really works for me.

When I started this blog, I set up a Facebook ‘Page’ for it (you have ‘liked’ it, haven’t you?) and have been overwhelmed at the support. Posts have been shared, photos commented on and best of all, recipes have been made and photos posted on the timeline. Last week, my niece who lives in Toronto, messaged  me (on Facebook!) to say that she had a couple of days in London and wondered if we could meet up. It turns out that we last saw each other about 25 years ago, when she and her brother were just young ‘uns. I took them strawberry picking at Garson’s Farm in Esher and we made strawberry ice-cream when we got back. She is as sweet and gorgeous now as she was then and it was an absolute delight to spend time with her and her lovely friend. She says that she doesn’t cook very much but has made my Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers and sent me a photo. Now, of course, none of this would have happened without Facebook…

I knew I wanted to take her a little treat, something that would be light, easy to carry and easy to eat and I remembered these Iced Lemon Squares. The original recipe compares them to brownies (and called them ‘lemonies’) but I never saw the correlation. It is a slender bake – more of a bar than a cake but is dense with a lot of lemon flavour.  I have added ground almonds and tweaked the measurements a little too.

I am taking these over to Angie at The Novice Gardener‘s Fiesta Friday as the party is still going strong and I think that those die-hard revellers may just need a little hit of sugar to keep them going!

Click on the link to be taken to Angie’s blog The Novice Gardener and join the party! Mix and mingle with the the guests – who knows who you might meet! http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/fiesta-friday-10/

If you blog and would like to join the party, here are the guidelines http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

iced_lemon_squares

Mix the dry ingredients, then beat in the butter which should be really soft. Nuking it for 15 or 20 seconds may help things along and don’t worry if some melts completely. At this stage the batter will be lumpy. Then, in a separate bowl,  (and without cleaning the beaters), give the eggs and lemon juice a bit of a whisking. Pour this onto the lumpen flour mix, beat and watch it transform into a smooth, creamy batter. Pour it into the prepared tin, spread it out  and bake for 25 minutes. It will be lightly golden rather than deeply tan.

iced_lemon_squares

Let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes then, using the lining paper as handles, lift carefully and place onto a wire rack to cool. If you don’t have paper, make sure to butter the tin very well and also flour it, then when the cake is ready, run a knife round the sides, shake it a few times and flip it out onto a plate then back onto a rack to finish cooling.

iced_lemon_squares

While the bake is cooling, make the icing. First, zest the second lemon and set this aside. Then sift the icing to get rid of any lumps. I have. in the past, tried to skip this step because the ‘dust’ that this process generates really gets my OCD to go into overdrive but this results in bumpy icing so what I do instead is put the icing sugar in a sieve, sit it on top of a bowl and use a spoon to stir and push it through – this really keeps the mess down to a minimum. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract to the sifted icing sugar and whisk away until all the icing sugar has been absorbed. Keep going – it will happen! If the paste is too thick, add a teaspoonful of milk to loosen it. It should be thick but spreadable. Scrape it onto the middle of the bake and spread it out evenly. Scatter over the lemon zest and leave the icing to set before slicing.

iced_lemon_squares

iced_lemon_squares

To slice, cut the bake in half then slice each half in half so that you have 4 long slices. Spin the bake a quarter turn and do the same again.

iced_lemon_squares

iced_lemon_squares

iced_lemon_squares

Iced Lemon Squares

  • Servings: 16 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Rita’s Recipes

INGREDIENTS

  • 125g plain/AP flour
  • 60g almond meal/flour/ground
  • 170g caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • finely grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Icing

  • 70g icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp of milk if necessary
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • zest from 1 lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Line an 8 inch square tin (mine is a 9 inch) with non-stick foil or grease proof paper. See my Tip and Tricks page, tip no 18 for an easy way to do this.
  3. Zest the lemon then juice it, keeping both separate and set aside.
  4. Hand whisk the flour, almond meal, sugar and salt to blend.
  5. Beat in the butter using an electric mixer until the butter has been incorporated – it will be quite lumpy.
  6. Whisk the eggs and the lemon juice for about 30 seconds.
  7. Pour it onto the flour mix together with the lemon zest. Beat until creamy – about 30 seconds to 1 minute. I always try to handle the batter as little as possible so as not to overwork the gluten which can result in a tough crumb.
  8. Scrape into the tin and spread out evenly using a spatula. It will seem like there isn’t enough batter but  don’t worry, there is.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes – it will have coloured a little on top. Place the tin on a wire rack for 10/15 minutes to cool, then using the foil or paper as handles, carefully lift out the cake , place on the rack and peel back the paper from the sides. Let the cake cool completely before icing.

To make the icing:

  1. Zest another lemon and set aside.
  2. Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl to get rid of any  lumps.
  3. Whisk in the lemon juice and vanilla extract and keep whisking until it has all been absorbed.
  4. If resulting paste is too thick, add a tsp of milk and whisk in. The icing should be thick enough stay put yet spreadable.
  5. Pour onto the middle of the cake and spread it out as evenly as possible.
  6. Sprinkle over the zest and leave to set for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

I find that the best way to slice these sort of bakes is as follows:

  1. Using a long sharp knife slice the bake in half.
  2. Then  slice each half into two equal slices so you now have 4 long equal slices.
  3. Spin the paper a quarter turn and do the same again – slice in half and each half in two.  You should have 16 fairly equal squares.

You can substitute oranges or limes for the lemons. You can double up the recipe to make in a larger pan.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Glazed Blood Orange and Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pound Cake

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Another citrus cake – I know, but I do rather love making them. I love the bright, sharp flavours and that both the zest and juice can be integrated into such a flavourful and comforting slice. And buttermilk again too!  I’ve said in an earlier post how I always have it and/or sour cream in the fridge just because I find them both so useful and both have a relatively long shelf life too. Buttermilk is wonderful in bakes and does a fabulous job of tenderising meat and poultry. Since I have discovered that you can buy 1L cartons of buttermilk from the many Eastern European grocery stores that have popped in this part of London, I always seem to have some the fridge.

When my son had just started senior school, I went through a phase of baking a cake every Sunday so that he could take a slice to have at break rather than buying something full of trans fats and preservatives from the tuck shop. Banana cakes, carrot cakes, date and fig cakes, lemon and almond cakes, fruit and oatmeal muffins  – it was always something chock full of good things as well as eggs and butter! He quite often asked if he could take some for his friends which, obviously, I was delighted to accommodate! Now, alas, he is further up the school chain and has no room in his bag which is absolutely stuffed with school books, to take food of any kind in with him. That also means no more packed lunches – not something that I am sorry to see the back of. Now I seem to bake a cake at the start of the weekends, just so that there is a slice of something to offer with a cup of tea if someone (his friends or mine) were to drop by. I do write a food blog after all and it’s probably expected!

So to use up the last of the blood oranges, I have adapted a basic recipe for Pound Cake of which I have many fond memories from my teenage years. A slice of pound cake topped with sliced and macerated strawberries and a squirt of Cool Whip was the finale to many a summer picnic and barbecue when I lived in Canada. If you are unable to lay your hands on buttermilk, you may substitute yoghurt instead. And instead of blood oranges, you could use normal ones or even lemons. You can also use white caster sugar rather than the golden and muscovado sugars. Just keep the proportions the same and you will have a lovely, dense, aromatic cake which will keep for quite a few days in the cake tin.

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Messing about with a new app on my phone – Waterlogue

This is one recipe which requires the butter to be really soft in order to cream well with the sugars. Once that is done, whisk in the eggs, one by one and then stir in the grated zest. Juice the orange and add to the buttermilk along with the vanilla.

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Blend in a third of the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk mixture alternating until everything is used up but keeping a light touch throughout this part of the process. Scrape the batter into a prepared loaf tin and bake!

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Prepare the glaze by starting with 30ml of juice – I made mine much too runny by over confidently adding all the juice of half an orange. Glazes should be quite thick, I feel. Once cooled, glaze, slice and enjoy!

blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Glazed Blood Orange Buttermilk and Brown Sugar Pound Cake

  • Servings: 8-10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 230g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 115 g unsalted, very soft, butter
  • 150 g golden caster sugar
  • 50 g light muscavado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest of 2 blood oranges
  • 120 ml butter milk
  • Juice of one orange which was approx 50-60 ml
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract/paste or the seeds of one pod

Glaze

  • 30 – 45 ml blood orange juice
  • 60g icing sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325F and paper or butter a 2lb loaf tin
  2. Aerate and mix the flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk and set aside
  3. Cream together the soft butter and sugar
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and mixing well between each. Add a spoonful of the flour if it looks as though it’s going to curdle – not that it make any difference to the end product.
  5. Stir in the zest.
  6. Mix together the milk, the  juice and the vanilla in a jug and set aside.
  7. Blend in a ⅓ of the flour mix into the batter using a light touch.
  8. Stir in half the buttermilk/orange juice mix and so on – you should finish with the flour mix. Don’t over beat.
  9. Scrape the batter into a loaf pan and bake for an hour. It will be quite dark from the brown sugar and when you insert a toothpick in the middle, it should come out clean.
  10. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove to a rack to cool completely
  11. Mix the glaze ingredients together to a fairly thick consistency and pour over the cooled cake.