Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lemon Lemon Loaf, a Lemon Pound Cake from “Baked” And a reminiscence about Sara Lee

        There’s something amazingly satisfying about a simple pound cake.  Especially when it’s perfectly made, as were these by Andrew.  The ‘crumb’ of the cake gives it a richness and depth of flavor that’s unlike any other cake.  Infused with lemon flavor and enriched with sour cream, this cake then is glazed with a lemon-y icing.  It’s a delight that we never grow tired of.  And it always brings back memories for me of my Advertising years because, at one time, I worked on the Sara Lee Bakery account and at one time, Sara Lee made a pretty mean pound cake.  That, unfortunately, was before the Butter Police and the accountants got in the way and Sara Lee’s cakes no longer cut it.  You only had to ask Sara Lee herself.  Yes, there was a real Sara Lee.

Sara Lee Schupf, nee Lubin, was the daughter of Charles Lubin, a Chicagoan who, with his brother-in-law bought a chain of neighborhood bakeries in 1935.  The men expanded their enterprise to 7 local bakeries. Charles, wanting to expand their business further, named a cream cheese cake after 8 year old Sara Lee and changed the name of the company to the Kitchens of Sara Lee.  
        When I met Sara Lee, the Kitchens of Sara Lee had become the Sara Lee Corporation and sold everything from Jimmy Dean sausage to Bryan Meats to, well, Sara Lee Baked Goods.  Sara herself was by then the mother of grown children and a well-known and well-respected advocate on behalf of women in science, technology, medicine and engineering.  I am not quite sure why she allowed herself to become the spokesperson for her eponymous brand.  Lord knows she didn’t exactly lack for this world’s goods.   But as I got to know her, I realized her motives for becoming involved may have had something to do with her disdain for what had been done to the baked goods with her name on them.     
        Sara Lee made no bones about it.  She could not believe how, in a effort to boost profits, the quality of the cheesecake had plummeted, the croissant had been morphed into something that wasn’t recognizable to her and how, in an effort to cut costs, butter had been reduced drastically from Sara Lee Pound Cake.  Her complaints, however, fell of deaf corporate ears. So she took the money, and the rather expensive wardrobe from our shoots and ran.  For years, Sara Lee was advertised with the following lyric:  "Everybody doesn't like something but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee".  Well, I can think of one person who didn't.  Sara Lee.
      I haven’t tasted a Sara Lee cake in years.  But then again, when you’ve got Andrew, why exactly would you?  Here’s the recipe for a superb Lemon pound cake that the Butter police can keep their paws off.  And wouldn’t you know it, it’s from those other refugees from Advertising, the boys at “Baked”, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.
Recipe for Lemon Lemon Loaves
For the Lemon Cake: Makes one, Andrew easily doubled the recipe to make two.

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
8 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup grated lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Lemon Syrup
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

For the Lemon Glaze
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, or more if needed
4 to 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

To make the Lemon Cakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the sides and bottom of two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.

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

Put the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until combined. With the motor running, drizzle the butter in through the feed tube. Add the sour cream and vanilla and pulse until combined. 

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Sprinkle the flour mixture, one third at a time, folding gently after each addition until just combined. Do not overmix.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F., and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Lemon Syrup:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and invert the loaves onto the pan. 

Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the loaves.
Brush the tops and sides of the loaves with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cakes cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

(The soaked but unglazed loaves will keep, wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap and frozen, for up to 6 weeks.)

To make the Lemon Glaze

In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. If the mixture is too stiff, add up to another 2 tablespoons lemon juice and whisk again, adding small amounts of lemon juice and/or confectioners' sugar until you get the right consistency. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.
The glazed loaves will keep for up to 3 days, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yum yum yum yum yum. Thank God it's time for Winter sweaters and I can eat cake! Xoxoxo