Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

I made this with one of my few remaining Meyer Lemons, and I must confess that I was a little worried that the recipe wouldn’t be appropriately wonderful for my rare and precious lemons.   I’ve been dying to cook with them, but I have this irrational fear of using them in a less than spectacular way – you know, of making something just average and wasting them.  It’s silly I know, but I’ll only have them for these few months and I don’t want to waste them on something mediocre.  So.  I hunted around forever before settling on the recipe that I used, and even then I adapted it quite liberally to suit my high expectations.  And readers, it was totally worth it.  This simple little loaf is the very essence of Meyer Lemons.  It’s sweet, tart, and as you pull it out of the oven you will be greeted by the most divine scent: slightly pine-y, citrus-y, and totally delicious.  You won’t want to wait for it to cool so you can smear the slightest bit of salted butter on and enjoy it curled up on your favorite comfy chair.  It’s a typical quick bread type recipe that comes together in no time flat, and then you just have to wait impatiently for it come out of the oven.

Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Bread            

Adapted from AmyBites

A few notes:  I added extra lemon zest, juice, and poppy seeds.  I really wanted a pronounced lemon flavor and I love the little crunch of the seeds, and I got what I felt was a well-balanced loaf.  Keep in mind that I used Meyer lemons though, and they have a less pronounced flavor and aren’t as tart as regular lemons, so you may want to adjust if you can’t find them.  Also, milk would be fine in the place of the heavy cream if you want to lighten it up.                                                                                              

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon zest

½ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter a loaf pan.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Using electric mixer, cream unsalted butter, sugar and lemon zest on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in vanilla bean paste. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in lemon juice and poppy seeds.

Pour batter into pan and bake in center of oven until a tester inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 65-70 minutes. Let loaf cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out onto rack. Cool completely.

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Meyer Lemon Marmalade

MayerLemonMarmalade-2

 

I know I said that I would tell you about the Moonpies from the Baby Shower, but you’ll just have to wait.  See, I was perusing the produce section of my Publix a couple of days ago and I saw a little basket that said “Meyer Lemons, While Supplies Last.”  So I bought them.  Yes, that’s right, all of them.  Every last one.  You can understand, right?  Why I didn’t leave any for anyone else?  I mean, I’ve bought regular lemons masquerading as Meyer Lemons in the past, but I’ve never seen anything I was sure was a real live Meyer before.   These were more orange than yellow, and had a very bright scent.  They were also noticeably softer than other lemons, with a thinner peel.  I loaded them up and ran right home to search my cookbooks for a suitably grand recipe.  I had thought to make lemon-poppyseed bread, since I love it and Jacob wasn’t home to object (he’s not a fan of loud citrus flavors), but when I saw the Marmalade recipe in my Gourmet cookbook I knew that was the way to go.

I’ve never had marmalade before, nor made it, so it was a lot of fun to try it out, especially with such good ingredients.  The lemons had a really great flavor – not overly tart, and sweeter than normal lemons, and with a piney sort of scent/taste.  When they were cooking down, they made my kitchen smell just lovely.  If you’ve never had Meyer Lemons before, I encourage you to give them a try if you see them.  I know they’d be killer in a lemon tart, or meringue pie, but you could also just use a squeeze in a vinaigrette, or over seafood and still enjoy the flavor.

MayerLemonMarmalade-1

 

The marmalade was very simple to make – easier than some jams I’ve made, since there was no mashing, or pureeing.  You do have to soak them for a whole day, though, so be sure to plan your time accordingly.  Other than the soaking time, I had the whole project complete in about an hour, so it’s not a huge time commitment.

 

MEYER LEMON MARMALADE

Gourmet Cookbook

Makes 6 1/2-Pint Jars

Active Time: 1 1/4 hours

Total Time: I day plus 1 1/4 hours

 

1 1/2 lb Meyer Lemons (about 6)

4 cups water

4 cups sugar

 

Halve lemons crosswise and remove seeds, but don’t throw them out! Tie the seeds in a small cheesecloth bag – you’ll want the seeds to cook with the lemons so they’ll provide the pectin. Quarter each lemon half and thinly slice. Combine with bag of seeds and water in a 5-quart nonreactive heavy pot and let mixture stand, covered, at room temperature 24 hours.

After soaking, bring lemon mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to approximately 4 cups, about 45 minutes.

While the lemons are cooking down, sterilize 6 half-pint jars, as well as bands and lids.  (I also put a couple of small plates in my freezer to chill at this point, for checking the doneness later*.)

Stir in sugar and boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam, until a teaspoon of mixture dropped on a cold plate* gels, about 15 minutes.

Carefully remove your seed bag and pour the hot marmalade into jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of top. Wipe rims with dampened cloth and seal jars with lids. Process for 10 minutes (for half-pints, longer for bigger jars), then let cool.

Marmalade keeps, stored in a cool, dark place, up to 1 year.

*I’ve never used the cold plate method before, but it worked really well for me.  I put a plate in the freezer when I started cooking down my lemons, so that it would be well chilled.  Then, when you think the marmalade is done, drop a small spoonful on the cold plate and stick it back in the fridge (not freezer!) for a minute or so.  When you pull it out, tilt the plate and see if the marmalade runs – if it doesn’t, it’s done.  If it runs, just continue cooking until it does set.