Thursday, March 10, 2011

When California grows you lemons...

...bake Baby Lemon Angel Food Cakes!  

The Little Rabbit is preparing for a visit to the golden state.  

The timing couldn’t be better.

As I lay out my lightweight jacket, short sleeved shirts, flips flops and even a pair of shorts, I look out my window and can’t help but laugh at the three feet of snow Vermont was recently slammed with. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the snow.  But when mother earth teases you with sunny days in the high 40s, you start to believe Spring is right around the corner.  As you consider packing away the hats, mittens and scarfs galore you've been cocooning yourself in everyday,  it starts to snow again. 

And it keeps snowing.

And snowing.

Three feet of snow later, Spring is but a distant memory. It's reminiscent of C. S. Lewis' never-ending winter in Narnia.  Would someone defeat the evil White Witch already?

Understandably, nothing delights me more than planning and packing for a trip to sunny California.  Perhaps while I'm gone the snow will melt as Spring nudges the winter away with warm temps and afternoon showers.

In preparation for my upcoming trip, I thought I’d bake with one of California’s leading food products, the lemon.  California is the leading citrus producer for the US, producing 87% of US lemons.  This equates to 745 million tones of lemons annually.

That’s a lot of lemons.  I’d better get baking.

Baby Lemon Angel Cakes
Recipe adapted from Gale Gland’s Just a Bite.

Cake Ingredients:
1 ½ cups of egg whites, room temp (about 12 eggs)
1 1/8 cups cake flour, sifted
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons cream of tartar
½ teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon Confit Ingredients:
2 lemons
1 cup sugar

Lemon Glaze Ingredients:
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 ½ cups confectioners sugar

To prepare the Lemon Confit:
1. Cut a slice from the top and bottom of each lemon.  Cutting horizontally from top to bottom, cut the peel from the lemon in 1 inch strips.  Scrape away any remaining pulp, but allow the pith to remain.  Cut each wide strip into skinny strips, creating ¼ x 3 inch strips.

2.  Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add the prepared lemon rinds and boil for 30 seconds.  Drain the rinds and rinse in cold water.  Repeat this process 2 more times, boiling fresh water each time.

3. Combine the sugar and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add the blanched rinds and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until the rinds are tender, about 1 hour.  Drain in a strainer and dry the rinds on a cooling rack.  Store in an air-tight container until ready to use.
To bake the Cakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Sift the cake flour with ½ cup of the sugar three times.

2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and salt, and continue whipping until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the remaining sugar and continue to whip until the egg whites are stiff.

3.  Fold the sifted flour-sugar mixture into the egg whites.  Fold in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.

4. Spoon the batter into ungreased muffin tins, filling right to the top.  Bake until lightly golden, about 15-20 minutes.

5.  Allow the cakes to cool in the tin, then run a knife around the edges to loosen.  Carefully hold the top of each cake and pull upwards to remove.

To finish the Cakes:
1.  To make the glaze, sift the confectioners sugar and stir in the lemon juice.  Pour the glaze over the tops of the baby cakes.  

2. Chop the lemon rinds into small pieces and top each angel cake.

These delicate, light cakes recall memories of idyllic summer days  filled with lemonade, croquet and grass stained shorts.  Here's to hoping Spring comes soon.  In the meantime, just eat cake!



  1. Ok, first the Cinnamon Swirl Bread, then the Challah and now these lemon beauties (I love lemon!)... all in one day. That's it. I'm a follower of your blog now! :o) Looking forward to seeing more of your wonderful baked creations :o)

    Have fun in California. On your way home to VT, would you mind sending some sunshine our way here in snowy MN? :o)

    Btw, should that be 1 1/2 cup egg whites? ;o)

  2. Hanaa-
    Oh gosh, thanks for the catch on the egg whites! That's fixed now. And thanks for becoming a follower!

    I'll do my best to send some sunshine to MN for you!!

  3. Ug, sorry you guys are getting all that snow! I'm on the East Coast as well, but farther down. Well, I am sure these muffins brought a whiff of spring into your kitchen!

  4. They are so CUTE! I've never made angel food cake as cupcakes before.

  5. I love the thought of mini-angel food cakes...your lemon ones are beautiful!! Enjoy your vacation...and bring some spring back east when you return :)

  6. I guess you are the snowshoe hare for a little while longer, eh? I'm sorry that you got teased like that, but I have to say I love your reference to the Narnia book. Made me understand exactly how you feel.

    I love your angel food cakes. What a perfect little bite of summer for you while you wait for the Lion to return!

  7. These mini cakes look really good... I've never had angel food cake in this way, but we can change that! And I really love anything with lemons... yum!

  8. This winter hasn't been too kind with the snow. I live in NH but have a vacation place in West Townshend, VT and even though I love winter, enough is enough!

    I don't think I have ever seen a mini angel food cake before. My dad loves it so I have seen the regular sized ones quite often. Neat idea!


  9. Wow your cake looks really gentle and fresh. It sounds so perfect for the weekend baking :)



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