Monday, August 22, 2011

Lemon Loaf and Life Lessons

Most of the loaf was eaten before I took a picture...
"Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well, folks, my blog has officially reached it's first anniversary. That means I actually stuck with this for a year! I am proud of myself for sticking with it, given how many projects I've started in the past, only to abandon a few days or a few weeks later.

I've actually had a weekend full of proud moments. It all began with an epiphany that I had on Thursday when I went for a walk during a break at work. I've been feeling restless lately, a bit trapped, uncertain of my future and questioning whether there was a light at the end of the tunnel. During that last walk (and I've been taking many walks lately), it suddenly hit me: I need to not return to school in the fall and instead focus on baking. Specifically, I need to focus on starting a business for my baking. It is a scary thought, something I've toyed with in the past, but never took too seriously. In the end, however, I think it is time that I really gave a dream a chance to see the light, instead of keeping it trapped in my mind.

Once I had that breakthrough, things began to seem a little more clear to me. I am not trapped. I am free to make whatever decisions I feel are best, as this is my life, and I'm the only one living it. I've also only got one chance at this life, so I need to make the most of it. It has also helped to have some good friends to talk to and to remind me who I really am. I am a strong person, and I am not alone.

With this new outlook, I managed to fill what started out as a no-plans 3-day weekend with lots of activity. I took a drive in the country all by myself (which I had never done before), and wound up on some country roads that reminded me of a roller coaster; at one point, I came over a hill where I could not see the bottom, so I just yelled, "wooooo!" and enjoyed the ride. It was a nice little adventure. I also went to a party where I managed to speak a little French,as well as talk to strangers and join in conversations I was not originally a part of (something that usually makes me nervous). On Saturday I met up with two different friends across the river and did some exploring over there on my own for a bit (another first). During that adventure, I ate the most delicious grilled sandwich ever at The Grilled Cheese Grill: the Jaime, which had mascarpone, nutella, and bananas on cinnamon swirl bread. I almost died of happiness. I'm glad I didn't die, though, because Sunday morning I had another such moment with some peanut butter pancakes at Screen Door. It was a solid weekend with new adventures and plenty of time spent with good friends.

And so now I will share with you the recipe for the lemon loaf I made this weekend. Still not sure if it's a bread or a cake, but I don't really care. It tastes good. Sometimes I just get a lemon craving, and this satisfies that. It's a burst of sunshine, when that is what you need in your life. Also, my boss told me that it's the best lemon pound cake she has ever tasted, so I feel pretty good about it.

Lemon Loaf
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

3/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 cup sugar
4 lrg eggs at room temp.
grated lemon zest from 2 lemons
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 sour cream at room temp.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup limoncello

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fit a small sheet of parchment paper in the bottom of the coated pan and coat with cooking spray.

Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a food processor, combine the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice and pulse to combine. With the motor running, drizzle the butter in through the feeding tube. Stop the machine and add the sour cream and vanilla and pulse to combine. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, then stir the dry ingredients in in 3 additions. Stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then bake at the center of the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan and turn the heat down to 325 degrees F and cook for another 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Allow the loaf to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Invert the loaf onto a sheet of parchment and poke holes into the top and sides of the loaf. Use a pastry brush to brush the loaf with limoncello, allowing the limoncello to seep into the holes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

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