Honey and
Ricotta
food and travel

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Lemon Poppy Mini Loaves (gf/df)


To say it would be a while since I last blogged would be an understatement. It seems like a lifetime ago (and that's not just the lifetime that seems to have passed between two weeks ago when I had a job and was living a fairly normal life and today when I have no job and most of the world is in quarantine). Since then I started, and finished, a pastry program at culinary school, got my first job as pastry chef at a catering company and cafe, ran two marathons, took a three week holiday,  hosted Christmas in our little falling-apart apartment, found out we'd be moving to DC this summer, and now have lost my job, am not sure when I'll next make it home, live in the time of social-distancing, and try not to think more than half a day ahead of where we currently are to try to maintain some sense of sanity. Exhale. 

I hope you're all coping okay, staying safe, keeping your distance, eating lots of vegetables, and finding new hobbies to keep you sane. Baking during times like these helps. It's become a sort of therapy to me over the last few years, and that has never been truer than right now. So, to try to distract myself and entertain you, I thought I'd start sharing some of the recipes I've been working on over the last many months. First up, these lemon poppy loaves.

Baking in Brooklyn involved trying to create as many gluten-free/dairy-free/vegan/everything-free treats as possible. And while I didn't always stay true to that, sometimes I did. These gluten- and dairy-free lemon poppy loaves were so popular in the six months we sold them at the cafe. Hopefully they can bring a little brightness to you now too. If you don't have a mini loaf pan, a muffin pan would work well too, just be sure to grease it really well. And I know food shopping isn't the easiest, so switches can be made. Any citrus you can find will work, canola oil can be changed to olive or whatever plain-ish oil you have, poppy seeds can be omitted, and the glaze is totally optional. Anything else you need to swap? Let me know. We'll come up with a solution.

Stay safe and strong y'all. Eat a salad as well as cake. Talk to your friends. Post a rainbow in your window. Stay home. Sending virtual hugs. I'll be back soon.


Makes 18 mini loaves

(I use this pan).

Ingredients

for the cakes:

8 eggs, separated
340ml canola oil
300g sugar
4 lemons, zested (keep the rest of the lemons!)
Pinch of salt
200g cornmeal
280g ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons poppy seeds

for the syrup:

2 lemons, juiced
30g sugar

for the glaze:

3 cups powdered sugar
2 lemons, juiced
Poppy seeds, to decorate

What to do

for the cakes:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and line the base and short sides of a mini loaf pan.

Whisk together (by hand or in a stand mixer) the egg yolks, canola oil, sugar and lemon zest until combined. Make sure the oil is incorporated.

In a stand mixer (if you used it for the yolks mix, be sure to clean and dry it well), whip the egg whites and salt to stiff peaks.

While the egg whites whip, whisk together the cornmeal, ground almonds, baking powder and poppy seeds in a large bowl. Fold in the yolk and oil mixture.

When the whites are ready, add them in three batches to the batter. It will be hard to incorporate at first as the batter will be thick, but the whites will gradually loosen it. Be patient, don't mix too hard, but also don't be scared about knocking some air out of them. It's okay to have streaks of egg whites still visible between adding batches, but before you stop mixing entirely, make sure it is well combined.

Fill the molds in the prepared pan, making sure they're not filled right to the top (roughly three-quarters). Quickly get them in the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, rotate, and bake for 8 more. When they're done they should be lightly golden brown and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. A cake tester should come out clean. Set aside to cool.

When cool, remove from the pan. Place them upside down on a lined tray. Using a cocktail stick (or whatever sharp, small tool you have), prod 3-4 holes in each cake.

for the syrup:

Mix the lemon juice and sugar together in a pan. Place over a medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Use a pastry brush to soak the syrup into the cakes. I like to do two rounds of a light soak. (If there is extra syrup left, you can add some seltzer for a homemade lemonade.)

for the glaze:

Sift the powdered sugar over a large bowl. Whisk the sugar as you gradually add the lemon juice until it becomes a think, smooth glaze. If it's too runny, add more sugar, and if it's too dry, add more lemon juice or water.

Using a piping bag or a tablespoon, glaze the lemon cakes, and top with poppy seeds. These will last for 4-5 days in the fridge.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Death Valley: Sand, Salt, Sky


We left Joshua Tree and drove through dessert-y nothing-ness for 5 hours (with a stop of B's choosing at the Mad Greek for a fresh strawberry shake) and eventually arrived at huge, majestic nothing-ness, aka Death Valley. This National Park is truly otherworldly: huge mountains tower behind gigantic sand dunes, way-below-sea-level-salt flats and boulders, while deep gorges filter the sunlight and play with shadows, and pastel rocks dot the horizon.


Every day we drove for miles and hiked many miles too. If you just walk a few extra steps, you can escape the other people and coaches. And if you can cope with the bizarre hotel options (think of it as inspiration for your first novel), a trip to Death Valley will be mind-blowing, awe-inspiring, and overwhelming (in a good way). In three days we visited the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Zabriskie Point, Golden Canyon, Titus Canyon, Artists Palette, Badwater Basin, and Devil's Golf Course. So, with that said, here's a glimpse of all those spots (I'm not sorry for the somewhat excessive number of shots of sand and salt!).



















Saturday, 26 January 2019

Joshua Tree: Sunrise, Sunshine, Sunset


Looking back through these photos of Joshua Tree in the cold depths of New York January is pretty painful. That light. That silence. Those multi-colored, ever-changing skies. Watching the sun rise and set every day. Disconnected from the rest of the world. Is this real life?


Reading about the vandalism happening in Joshua Tree National Park made me even angrier and upset with the governance of this country than I am on an everyday basis. It's such a magical, wondrous, spectacular place. All Los Angelenos seem to describe it as "spiritual". And while that often winds the cynical Brit/East Coaster in me up, they're kinda right.


It's hard to describe the park itself (and the surrounding space—we stayed nearer Pioneertown), but hopefully these pictures (narrowed down from the selection of 300+ I took over 4 days) share a little bit of the otherworldly beauty.





































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