Thursday, June 24, 2010

Berry Lemon Cake

I feel like this blog is turning into What's for Dessert, but hey that's what happens when I'm pregnant. This cake is moist and delicious, with the tangy lemon filling and sweet raspberries.  A serious winner.  It would be a great addition to your July 4th celebration, or for any summer festivity.  If you want to make it easier, just use a lemon cake mix, buy lemon curd and mix it with some whipped cream, and use store-bought frosting.  It won't be as good but will do in a pinch.

Berry Lemon Cake

Cake Ingredients:
1 lemon cake mix
1 3/4 cup water
1/3 cup oil
4 eggs
1/2 package lemon pudding mix
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 3- 8" or 9" round cake pans.  Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl on low for 30 seconds, then on high for 2 minutes.  Pour evenly into pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes.  After baking, let sit in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.

Lemon Filling Ingredients:
1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 T lemon zest (use about 3 lemons total)
1 T cornstarch
6 T butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped

In a small saucepan whisk together cornstarch, lemon juice, and zest.  Add sugar and butter, and heat over high heat until boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Pour half of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks, whisking vigourously, then return yolks and lemon mixture back to the pan and whisk entire mixture together.  Turn heat to low and whisk an additional 3 minutes, or until nice and thick.  Pour lemon curd into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool in the refrigerator at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
Just before using, fold whipped cream into lemon curd until combined.

Raspberry Filling Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1 T sugar

Mix raspberries and sugar in a small bowl with a fork, mashing the berries until they are mostly broken down.

Fluffy White Frosting Ingredients:
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 t lemon juice
1 t light corn syrup
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

In a medium bowl set over a medium saucepan filled with 1" of simmering water (bowl should be about 2" above water), beat egg whites, 1/4 cup water, lemon juice, corn syrup, and cream of tarter.  Use a hand mixer and beat on high for about 7 minutes, or until soft peaks form and the mixture reaches 160F on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and beat mixture until stiff glossy peaks form, about 5-10 minutes longer.  Makes about 3 cups frosting.

To Assemble the Cake:
Even out the cake layers if necessary.  Place the bottom layer on a plate, then add raspberry filling.  Top with the middle cake layer, then spread the lemon filling on the middle layer (you will probably have extra lemon filling).  Top with the final cake layer.  Frost sides and top of cake, and decorate as desired.  Serves 8-12.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mile High Strawberry Pie

My mom made this recipe occasionally as a kid, and when I got married I discovered that my mother-in-law also made it. It's a great summer recipe, as it's frozen and uses lots of delicious strawberries. It's also extremely easy to make, and can be made ahead of time. Make some for the 4th of July!

Mile High Strawberry Pie

1 cup whipping cream
3 cups sliced strawberries (or you can use 10 oz frozen strawberries)
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 graham-cracker crust (if you are using a store-bought crust, get the largest size you can find (a full 9 or 10 inches) or you'll have filling left over)

In a medium bowl, beat the cream on high speed until whipped.  Set aside.
Using a blender or food processor, puree the strawberries until most large bits have been pureed.  Pour into a large bowl and add egg whites, sugar, juice, and vanilla.  Beat on high until mixture is very thick, fluffy, and a soft pink color, about 10-15 minutes. 
Carefully fold the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture.  Pour into the crust (the filling should be a few inches higher than the edge of the crust, but should stay as long as you mixed it long enough).  Freeze overnight or until firm.  Keep frozen until ready to serve.

Serves 8.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rack of Lamb Castle

I had been wanting some great lamb and yummy bread, and decided that I would make them together.  Using Herbes de Provence makes this dish super easy, and the tarragon adds a nice flavor both to the bread and the meat.  The kids thought the finished product looked like a castle, so that's what we're calling it! 
As a sidenote, you can make this bread on its own and it makes 2 large or 4 small delicious artisan bread loaves.  Use the same baking directions as in this recipe.

Rack of Lamb Castle

Bread ingredients:
2 cups warm water
1 T yeast
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
5 cups flour
1/4 cup melted butter

In a large mixing bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt.  Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add flour and mix until sticky dough forms.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down.  Grease a large baking sheet.  Using half of dough, form into a ring shape, leaving about 5 inches of space open in the middle.  Dough will be sticky, but try to use oiled hands instead of adding more flour.  With remaining dough form into one or two small round loaves and place on oiled sheet.  Place baking sheet in warm place and let rise for 30-45 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare the lamb.

Rack of Lamb Ingredients:
1 lamb rib roast (rack of lamb)
2 T Herbes de Provence (this is found in the spices section of your grocery store)
4-6 fresh sprigs of tarragon, or 1 T dried tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Lay the lamb on a cutting board and carefully slice between each rib bone, being careful to only slice about half of the way through the thickness of the meat.  Stand the ribs up on their fat ends, then curl them around until they form a circle or crown, with the skinny bones sticking up.  Tie the two end bones together using kitchen twine or thread.
Season the meat by rubbing the Herbes de Provence and salt and pepper on all the exposed surfaces.
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Place in the middle of the risen bread dough ring.  Dough should touch the edges of the meat but not cover it. 
Using half the melted butter, lightly brush the top of the dough (all loaves) with butter, being careful not to make it fall.  Place the tarragon sprigs on top of the dough ring, and some inside the lamb crown.

Bake the lamb and bread at 425F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375F and bake an additional 15-20 minutes.  Remove small loaves if necessary, as they will cook faster than the ring loaf.  After baking, brush remaining butter over bread.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 4.
I served this with a green salad and peas with mint leaves.