Sunday, December 1, 2013

Meyer Lemon Tea Cakes with Pomegranate Glaze

As I started reading a review copy of Sweet by Valerie Gordon of Valerie’s Confections in Los Angeles, the first thing I liked about the book was the one-word chapter titles. Pedestal (celebration desserts), Plate (everyday cakes), Tin (pies and tarts), Box (chocolates and confections), Bowl (desserts to eat with a spoon), Jar (cookies and bars), Larder (jams and marmalades), and Hand (breakfast and snacks to eat on the go). Each title defines the category so well and so simply and directs you to options for every possible occasion. Valerie’s Confections began as a boutique for toffees and chocolates and has grown to offer a wide variety of sweets. I was fascinated with the recipes for cakes from the past. Through research and trial and error, well-loved cakes from Los Angeles bakeries and restaurants that no longer exist have been recreated. Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake, topped with coffee whipped cream and shards of a coffee-flavored, honeycomb kind of candy, looks delightful, and I have to try The Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake with cream cheese and grapefruit juice frosting during citrus season. The truffles, toffees, and caramels would all make great holiday gifts, and there are tips for packaging them beautifully. In fact, there are helpful tips throughout the book for making your sweets as pretty as they can be including best ways to frost cakes, how to score toffee before it sets, and how to candy rose petals or mint leaves for garnish. And, I was thrilled to learn of Valrhona pearls which are chocolate-coated bits of puffed cereal that dress up the vertical surface of a frosted layer cake. I made several mental notes of fancy cakes I’d like to attempt some day, but the recipes I wanted to try right away were the Salted-Peanut Blondies, the Hazelnut Orange Cakes with Orange Glaze, the Tangerine Sour Cream Pound Cake, and the Meyer Lemon Tea Cakes with Pomegranate Glaze. 

These are pretty, little, lemon, mini cakes with a pink topping from the pomegranate juice in the glaze. In the headnote of this recipe, it’s mentioned that these are popular items in the spring and summer, but I couldn’t wait to make them. And to me, Meyer lemon and pomegranate are fall ingredients. That’s when the Meyer lemons on my trees ripen and I get very excited to use them in new and different ways. The recipe makes 24 mini cakes, so I cut the quantities in half to make 12. Also, I used a muffin tin rather than mini cake pans. The little cakes are tender-crumbed and delicious with butter, creme fraiche, Meyer lemon zest and juice in the batter, and it’s an easy batter to make. It was scooped into buttered muffin tin cups and baked for about 20 minutes. After cooling, the cakes were dipped into the thin glaze, and they were left to dry. The cakes keep very well, and it’s noted in the book that they freeze well too before being glazed. 

These tea cakes are perfect for dessert, snacks, or tea time or for whenever you can get Meyer lemons. Next, I need to decide which candies to make for the holidays. It’s going to be fun having one more book on the shelf for sweets for all occasions. 

Meyer Lemon Tea Cakes with Pomegranate Glaze 
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission. Excerpted from Sweet by Valerie Gordon (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Peden + Munk. 

makes 24 individual cakes 

We feature this cake every spring and summer at our farmers’ market booths, and time and again I hear the same question, “What is that?!” The jolt of pretty, pastel pink glaze always elicits a response from children and adults alike. Mini-cake pans, with 12 cups each, are available online

for the cakes: 
3 1/3 cups (17.3 ounces) all-purpose flour 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
3 3/4 sticks (15 ounces) unsalted butter, softened 
2 1/4 cups (15.75 ounces) sugar 
1/2 cup (4 ounces) creme fraiche 
6 large eggs 
1/3 cup grated Meyer lemon zest 
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Meyer lemon juice 

for the pomegranate glaze: 
2 cups (9 ounces) confectioners’ sugar 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1 tablespoon unsweetened pomegranate juice 

to make the cakes: 
1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Coat 24 large muffin cups or 3-inch mini-cake pans with nonstick baking spray or butter. 

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. 

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

4. Mix the creme fraiche, eggs, lemon zest, and juice together in a small bowl with a fork or small whisk. With the mixer on medium speed, alternately add the dry and wet ingredients in batches and continue beating until the batter is smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. 

5. Using a large ice cream scoop or a large spoon, scoop approximately 1/2 cup batter into each prepared muffin or cake cup. Bake for 18 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes appear matte and the shiny center has disappeared; do not bake until the cakes turn golden. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing them. Cool the cakes completely on a cooling rack before glazing, about 1 hour. 

to make the glaze: 
1. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice and pomegranate juice and stir with a small spatula until completely smooth. Let the glaze sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before glaze the cakes 

2. Pour the glaze into a wide shallow bowl. One at a time, pick up each cake, rotate the cake so the top is facing down, and dip it into the glaze. Carefully move the cake in a slow, circular motion so the entire surface is coated with glaze, then shake the cake gently so any excess glaze falls back in the bowl and put on a baking sheet. Put the cakes in a cool, dry area and let stand until the glaze loses its sheen and sets, about 20 minutes. 

storing: Once the glaze has set, the cakes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 

tip: If you want to freeze some or all of these cakes for future use, freeze them unglazed and then glaze them only after they are completely defrosted. This recipe makes a lot of little cakes—feel free to halve it if you like. 

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  1. So pretty! Meyer lemon and pomegranate - two of my favorite things. :)

  2. What perfect little cakes! All of those recipes sound amazing, and I can't wait to try them out.

  3. Divine! They look so pretty.



  4. These look delightful. I am going to unsubscribe but don’t worry, I have added you in Bloglovin. I am trying to keep my emails clear but will read your posts through Bloglovin as I really love them.

  5. So pretty and tempting! Love the light pink glaze.

  6. Lisa, these might just be my favorite cake post from all the ones you've baked so far.., The pomegranate glaze is incredibly gorgeous, and your photos... WOW!

    I meant to tell you I bought Seriously Bittersweet after reading your review, and it is an amazing book! Her work with chocolate could be a PhD thesis! ;-)

  7. I think those little pink and yellow cakes are beautiful. Wouldn't they be nice for a baby shower? Thanks for the recipe Lisa.

  8. You always come up with fantastic recipes. I love pomegranates and I would love to try the glaze xx

  9. I was a big fan of Valerie's confections when I was in LA. I definitely need to get this book!

  10. the color of that glaze is fantastic! hooray for pomegranates--i'm beginning to appreciate them more and more.

  11. Oh Lisa, these little teacakes look so elegant and cute, I love the delicate color of it. Lemon and pomegranate...great combo.
    Have a lovely week :D

  12. I want that book and I want one of these cakes! Just stunning! These would be perfect to serve at my friend's baby shower later this year!

  13. Love these cute and petite tea cakes. I am a die hard fan of citrus flavors in my baked goodies and this is an absolute winner. Thanks for sharing.

  14. We used to grow Meyer lemons when we lived in Florida - loved their flavor! These tea cakes look wonderful. And I love the idea of pomegranate glaze! Super nice recipe - thanks.

  15. You are making my wish list longer and longer! Another book I'd love to own. And the tea cakes are the sweetest little feminine!

  16. Add me to that list of people who has an ever lasting growing list of books to own. I LOVE this book if only for the chapter titles. How charming:)

    Of course this recipe is a winner too Lisa. I'm so glad you chose this one to share. The cakes look divine and I'm sure that pom glaze is just perfect!

    Thank you so much for sharing, Lisa...

  17. dear Lisa, These are beautiful. How wonderful that you have these gorgeous lemons growing in your backyard. The delicate pink from the pomegranate is perfect.
    Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  18. And yet another book I'll be adding to my Christmas wish list!! Meyers and pomegranates are definitely my favorite winter fruits, so I love the idea of them combined into one cake!

  19. These are such gorgeous little cakes! Love the pomegranate glaze!

  20. I've had my eye on that book.
    When we get the Meyer lemons in, at whole foods they are so expensive, I always have to pass on them.


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