I took this picture while the cake was still in the pan, because it shows how deflated the cake became after a few minutes out of the oven. It was fully cooked, and had risen above the level of the top of the pan, but it fell flat before it was fully cooled. I think the reason it fell was that I failed to sift the flour and sugar together four times as directed. I don’t own a flour sifter, so I’m stuck with a fine-mesh colander for my sifting needs. With cake flour and superfine sugar, I figured (wrongly) that it would be fine without all the sifting. Still, this angel food cake (Barefoot Contessa Family Style) tasted, in our opinion, better than any other angel food cake we’d ever had, maybe because of (and not in spite of) my laziness with the sifting. The lemon is a really nice touch.
Tag Archives: lemon zest
This risotto (Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics) was incredible – the lemon zest and lemon juice really added a nice zing that other risottos don’t have. And it’s a great way to eat a ton of vegetables – I’m thinking about substituting spinach and other green CSA vegetables when they’re in season this spring and summer. This would be great for vegetarian dinner guests if you substituted vegetable stock for chicken stock.
I was in charge of dessert for this year’s family Easter celebration. This tart (Barefoot in Paris) represents one-half of my contribution. Because I am ultimately lazy, I regretfully used a shortcut. I used (whispering now) a store-bought pie crust. It was foolish. Rolling out pie dough is really no big deal, but between my rhinovirus-infected child, absent-for-Holy-Week husband, and the desire to clean the food processor and counter one less time, I resorted to my favorite back-up: the Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust. I don’t know if homemade crust would have made a difference here, but the results were less than perfect: the crust shrank (shrunk?) back from the edges. The failings of this recipe aren’t completely due to my laziness, though. The instructions for the lemon filling indicate that stirring it over medium low heat for 8-10 minutes will result in a thick filling. Try, instead, stirring it for 30 minutes on medium to medium-high heat (and I have the carpal tunnel syndrome to prove it). At the end of the day, though, I would say that the results were good. I should have known that a three-page recipe on a holiday weekend was not my best decision, and I shouldn’t take my poor decision out on this recipe. I didn’t end up piping the meringue on top as instructed, for two reasons: 1. My laziness (see again, supra), and 2. I kind of like how the old-fashioned lemon meringue pies look with all their swirls and curlicues.
From Barefoot Contessa Parties!, this recipe is not so different from the Lemon Yogurt Cake found in Barefoot at Home. The real citrus zest and juice in the cake, syrup, and glaze give a very fresh taste, and it smells fantastic.
Once the lemons have been zested and juiced, I rub the remains of them over the kitchen sink to freshen it, and then shred them in the garbage disposal, making the whole kitchen smell good.
The headnotes to this recipe (Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics), indicated that it was inspired by a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, reportedly one of Ina Garten’s favorite magazines (and one of mine, too). For me, learning that the dear Contessa loves one of my other favorite recipe sources was like finding out that a new best friend shares a love for a favorite author, or like introducing the love of my life to my dad and just knowing that they’d hit it off. My heart sang to see the magazine mentioned on the hallowed pages of a Contessa cookbook. The folks at Cook’s Illustrated are also responsible for the PBS series America’s Test Kitchen. I’ve rarely been disappointed by a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but I do find the instructions a little fussy, and the America’s Test Kitchen folks more than a little uppity. Then again, if I tested as many recipes and tools as they do, I’d probably be plenty uppity. I just find the Contessa series to be much more approachable and practical for most weeknight meals. That said, when I’m not afraid of a time commitment and I want the absolute best results, I turn to Cook’s Illustrated. In addition, I love it when they find that a less expensive gadget or tool works just as well or better than its pricier counterpart. It’s like cheering for the underdog.
So, needless to say, I was excited to try this recipe, where my two favorite recipe sources married on one page. Unfortunately, as soon as I got started, I realized that my cake flour had expired, and I wasn’t sure it should be used. I was already too far into the recipe to turn back, so I substituted all-purpose flour. This turned out to be an ill-advised decision on my part. I baked it for 50 minutes (the low end of the suggested time), and tested it with a toothpick. The toothpick came out clean in most places, but the cake looked like it needed a little more time in one place. Five minutes later, the toothpick came out clean everywhere. I followed the instructions to let the cake cool before removing it from the pan, and then cooled it further on a cooling rack. Then, at the moment of truth, cutting into the cake, it was mostly doughy on the inside. I blame the all-purpose flour. Bummer. Because of all the cooling time, it was too late to put the cake back into the oven.
Still, the slices that we were able to salvage were absolutely delicious, and we’ve become somewhat experienced at tasting pound cake over the years. I find that pound cake recipes work well with Nordic Ware bundt/molded pans, as they have enough fat and bulk to slide right out of the pan. (Incidentally, the Nordic Ware factory is less than 2 miles from my house. I scour the want ads for a taste-testing position, but alas, they’re only hiring metal workers. Bah.) Also, pound cake seems to be a Southern staple, so I practiced the art of baking it from Junior League and church cookbooks over the years. As far as pound cake recipes go, this one tasted fantastic, but next time I’ll be sure to have fresh cake flour on hand.