Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meyer Lemon Tea Bread

I had a dream last night that Will and I had a package of sausage biscuits.  The conversation that followed went something like this:
     Will: How many do we have?
     Me: There's seven in the package.
     Will: Six?
     Me: No, seven.
     Will: So there's six.
     Me: No, seven!
I woke up and had to laugh because it sounded like a conversation we'd actually have.  We're forever not hearing the other quite right, so we have lots of mixups in our conversations.  Plus, we both really like sausage biscuits, so this would be a legit concern.
Quite clearly, this is not a sausage biscuit.  Not even close.  It is, however, a wonderful representation of the winter citrus that is now lining the produce shelves at your grocery store.  This tea bread makes use of fragrant Meyer lemons, which are a little less tart than your usual lemon.  I've been eating it with my afternoon tea (btw afternoon tea is a totally new thing for me, I just wanted to sound like I've been doing it for years).  It's also a lovely breakfast bread.
It's simple: butter, Meyer lemons, eggs, flour, buttermilk, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  
Butter and sugar go into a large bowl.  Normally I'd use my glass bowl for something like this, but it was occupado.
 Beat in the eggs one at a time.
The mixture fluffs up even more and starts to take on that creamy consistency we love.
Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in the bowl that is ideally larger than this one.  Oops.
 Now we alternate adding the flour and buttermilk, starting and ending with flour.
I think the buttermilk keeps the bread from getting too sweet, what with a whole cup of sugar in this.
Oh that is just lovely.  Fluffy, pretty batter.
Zest one of the lemons and maybe a little bit of a second to get a tablespoon of zest.  This will impart a gentle lemon flavor to the bread.
You want to gently stir in the zest to keep from overworking the batter.
Scrape the batter into a loaf pan that's been buttered and floured.  Bake about 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
The bread gets a nice crust on top that's reminiscent of a poundcake.  In fact, this bread really feels like a hybrid of breakfast bread and poundcake.
After it's cooled 10 minutes in the pan, run a knife around the edges and pop it out to let cool on a wire rack.
You didn't think we'd forget about glaze did you?  It's just powdered sugar and the juice and zest from the Meyer lemon, but it is tart and divine.
 Juice one of the lemons into the powdered sugar.
A whisk makes quick work of any lumps and bumps.
And because I can't resist, zest another lemon and whisk that into the glaze too.
Now the glaze has a tinge of yellow and beautiful bits of zest floating around.
I don't know why I kept the bread on the rack.  It was silly.  When you do it, put the bread on the dish you plan to serve it from.  Then pour the glaze over the bread. 
Let it drip down the sides.  Oh and don't even think I let any of that glaze go to waste.  No, ma'am.  I took my silicone pastry brush and I brushed as much glaze as I could into the sides and the top of that bread.  
 This is what it should've been on to begin with.  Lessons learned.
This deserves big, thick slices.
It also deserves a cup of coffee (honey-roasted, please!) or tea.
This bread has a light tang to it, but the real punch of lemon flavor comes from the glaze on top.  It's a dainty nibble that will perk up any dreary winter day.  

Meyer Lemon Tea Bread (makes 1 8-inch loaf)
Adapted from Southern Living

1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c buttermilk
2 tbs Meyer lemon zest, divided
1 c powdered sugar
Juice of one Meyer lemon
  • Preheat oven to 350º.  Butter and flour one 8x4 inch loaf pan.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and beat until fully combined.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Alternate adding flour and buttermilk to the batter, starting and ending with flour.  Stir in one tablespoon of the lemon zest.  Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing on top.  Bake 45 minutes to an hour or until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs.  Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and pop out the loaf.  Let it cool fully on a wire rack.
  • When bread is cool, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Whisk in the remaining tablespoon of zest.  Pour glaze over loaf on serving dish.  Garnish with a little more zest on top.  Serve with tea or coffee and a smile.

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