Lemon Pie Spoons

Summer!

Just kidding, until last weekend it has mostly been pouring rain and howling winds here. I will admit it’s made for some pretty challenging runs during my marathon training. Turns out 20 miles in drenching rain and/or 20-mph headwinds is not super awesome. I know, shocker. Regardless, around March I started thinking about lemons again, partially because my grandmother loved lemon meringue pie and her birthday was in March, and partially because Costco starts carrying giant bags of the wonderful yellow fruit around April. With the closing of ski resorts and the flowering trees, lemon just seems like the right flavor for the season.

Lemon Pie Spoons {{Baking Bytes}}

After making a large batch of granola, I was left with several egg yolks chilling in my fridge. My usual go-to for egg yolks is just to throw an extra one in scrambled eggs, but I didn’t think I’d get through them all that way very quickly. Secondary method is always pudding, but pudding sounded a bit heavier than the dessert I was really looking for. Enter: mousse!

Lemon Pie Spoons {{Baking Bytes}}

Substantially lighter in texture without compromising the ka-pow of flavor, mousse always feels like the summery version of pudding. Obviously lemon was the way to go. I cut Mandy’s recipe in half, very slightly adjusted it, and was on my way to a tasty treat. Her recipe called for a graham cracker crust that I’m sure is delightful, but I wanted to test an idea I’d been pondering.

Lemon Pie Spoons {{Baking Bytes}}

Last fall I’d seen some great ideas (on Pinterest, of course) using cookie spoons, which I thought were super cute. However, I am not a huge fan of sugar cookies and even more importantly, I don’t enjoy making them. I was curious whether the same idea would work with pie crust, and that seemed like the perfect delivery mechanism for lemon mousse.

After texting my mom and asking whether she thought my spoons are oven safe (which I’m sure made her raise an eyebrow), I made some pie crust, made a mini spoon template with parchment paper, and begin cutting away. They baked up super cute and although they are a bit fragile, they work great for a dollop of mousse or for dipping. Although it didn’t take terribly long to cut by hand, for round two I bought a cookie cutter on Amazon, which was not only faster, but allowed me to be more efficient with the dough. Plus now I have a reason to make more spoon desserts.

Lemon Pie Spoons {{Baking Bytes}}

These lemon pie spoons are small, light, and require no cutting and slicing and plating, which makes them great for potlucks. Big lemon flavor and flaky pie crust come together in a delicious bite-sized treat. It’s important to use a pie crust recipe you like the flavor of, as it’s rather prominent given the somewhat higher crust:filling ratio. I’ve linked mine below, but feel free to use your own.

Lemon Pie Spoons {{Baking Bytes}}

This would be a fun confection for a summer barbecue where you don’t want to worry about fridge space. You can make the spoons and the mousse a day or two ahead of time (store the spoons on the counter, and the mousse in the fridge), then assemble shortly before you head to the party. They’ll be fine on the counter (inside, if it’s hot) for several hours, leaving you free to enjoy the party. Although they might droop a bit, they are definitely safe to eat.

Fair warning: they are addicting! Make a batch to share, assuming you don’t eat them all yourself.

Lemon Pie Spoons

Adapted from Mandy’s Recipe Box
Makes about 5 dozen mini spoons

Ingredients

Pastry for single-crust pie (unbaked)

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
zest of 1 lemon (optional)

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. For the spoons: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. On a large baking sheet, arrange as many oven-safe spoons as you can fit. (A silicon mat will help them slide around less, if you have one.) Set aside.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out your pie crust to about 1/8″ thick. Use a cookie cutter (or a paper template and a sharp knife) to cut out as many spoons as possible. Pile all trimmings together, then gently roll out again and cut more spoons.
  3. Carefully transfer each pie crust spoon to a real spoon on the prepared baking sheet, pressing the dough into the real spoon’s indent.
  4. Bake 10-15 minutes, until crust is golden and slightly puffy. You may want to rotate the pan halfway through if your spoons are of different heights.
  5. Let cool a few minutes on the spoons, then gently and carefully (the metal spoons are hot!) remove them to a wire rack to cool completely, and repeat until all pie crust is used. Store on the counter until ready to use, up to 3 days.
  6. For the mousse: In a small saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest (if using.)
  7. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until mixture thickens and turns cloudy. Continue cooking until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (although it’ll look clear).
  8. Use a mesh sieve and strain the lemon curd into a small bowl. Refrigerate at least one hour, stirring a couple of times if possible, or until ready to use. Mixture should be cool to the touch. Also place a large mixing bowl and your beaters (or KitchenAid whisk attachment) in the fridge at this time.
  9. When curd is sufficiently chilled, remove large bowl and beaters from the fridge. Beat heavy cream on medium/high until stiff peaks form.
  10. Gently fold in the curd to the whipped cream until it’s not streaky.
  11. Return mousse to fridge until ready to serve, up to 3 days.
  12. For assembly: Arrange pie crust spoons on a tray or serving platter as desired.
  13. Transfer mousse to a frosting bag with a star tip (or a Ziploc), cut off the tip, and carefully pipe onto the spoons. (You may have extra mousse.) Serve as soon as possible!
  14. Alternate assembly: Place mousse into 4-oz serving dishes and add a pie crust spoon. Serve with extra spoons for dipping!

Blueberry Boy Bait (two ways)

Spring has definitely sprung over here with a high of 72 yesterday (followed by a couple inches of snow this morning), and the warm weather has gotten me thinking about the berry pies and lemony goodness that become more popular in the coming season. I decided something blueberry was definitely in order and perused my bookmarks and Pinterest boards in hopes of seeing something that piqued my interest.

Blueberry Boy Bait {{Baking Bytes}}

It didn’t work (ha) but I did ultimately remember a fabulous blueberry dish I made at home several years ago called Blueberry Boy Bait. The name has always made me giggle and the dish is amazing. A quick Google search brought me right to the lovely post from Smitten Kitchen I so fondly recalled.

Before we get much further, please bear in mind there is absolutely nothing healthy about this. It’s cake. I know there’s no frosting, but it’s like 90% butter (slight exaggeration) and 100% delicious and you should definitely make some. Just know that this is not a health food, and if you’re looking for one of those you should bake some Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins instead.

Blueberry Boy Bait {{Baking Bytes}}

Still here? Excellent. Rich and buttery, fluffy and moist, brimming with blueberries, and topped with a cinnamon & sugar coating I always adore, it’s hard to have just one piece. After making it again, I’m honestly not sure why I waited so long and it will definitely be put in a more regular baking rotation. It pairs equally well with a cup of coffee for breakfast or snack, and a glass of milk for dessert. Or a handful straight from the cooling rack to your mouth because you “accidentally” didn’t grease the pan well enough and had to hide the evidence.

Blueberry Boy Bait {{Baking Bytes}}

The blueberries do always sink to the bottom for me, but I consider this a feature rather than a problem, as it results in a perfectly proportioned cake-to-blueberry ratio with every bite. The cake is somewhat fragile, so be careful removing it from the pan. If you’re concerned about presentation, you could bake them in a muffin tin with paper liners instead, but I have not personally tried this.

Blueberry Boy Bait - Lemon {{Baking Bytes}}

Since spring was in the air, I tried a lemony version as well. I definitely prefer the original, but this is a nice alternative if you’re in the mood for it.

Blueberry Boy Bait

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 8×8″ dish

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar

1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 cup whole milk (2% worked great)

1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw)
1 Tbsp flour

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8×8″ baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the paper too.
  2. Add butter and sugars to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for about two minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Add eggs to butter mixture one at a time, mixing until just incorporated and scraping the bowl between each one.
  5. Alternate adding flour (1/3 at a time) and milk, starting and ending with flour.
  6. Toss 1/4 cup blueberries with remaining one tablespoon flour and fold into batter. (It won’t look like enough, but I promise it doesn’t need more.)
  7. Spread into prepared pan and sprinkle additional 1/4 cup blueberries onto the batter. Mix together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle about half over the top.
  8. Bake about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top doesn’t look super wet.
  9. Immediately sprinkle with additional cinnamon & sugar topping (optional but recommended). Cool at least 20 minutes in the pan before serving.
  10. Attempt to not eat the entire pan in one sitting, but fail deliciously.

Blueberry Boy Bait - Lemon {{Baking Bytes}}

Lemon Blueberry Boy Bait

Make as above except substitute 3 tablespoons of milk with lemon juice. Omit cinnamon sugar topping. Whisk 3/4 cup powdered sugar with 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice and use to lightly glaze cooled cake.

Lemon Bundt Cake

Hello my friends,  I’ve been busy attempting to find a lemon cake to share with you guys. As mentioned last post, attempt #1 was rather a fiasco, resulting in an overflowing, collapsed mess that was somehow over-baked and under-baked at the same time. And to top it off, it failed to cleanly come out of the pan.

Failure

Disaster.

The following week I tried again, using a new recipe. This recipe baked beautifully but was not quite as lemony as I prefer. I like lemon desserts to smack you in the face with lemon rather than leaving you wondering if that was really lemon flavored after all.

And so this weekend, attempt #3 was meant to boost the lemon flavor from the previous week, which was successful, finally.

Lemon Bundt Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

I finally present to you a fully lemony bundt cake for your springtime pleasure. If, like me, you’re ignoring the attempts at snow outside and the chilly wind, and looking longingly towards the blue patch of sky, bake this cake. This morning was a rather gray day, with flurries of now, but as I type up this post it’s now sunny and nearing 50 degrees.

Lemon Bundt Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Obviously the weather gods approve of lemon.

Fairly dense but not sickeningly sweet, the lemon scent permeates the air even before you have a taste. The color of sunshine guarantees a smile even on a cloudy day, and the burst of flavor leaves no questions about its contents. Although I love a strong lemon flavor, I realize it’s not for everyone. If you prefer it a bit more subtle, leave out the syrup step entirely. If you want the experience to have a bit more ka-pow (definitely a technical term), the syrup will give you that. Add as much or as little of it as you like, but make sure you poke deep holes into the cake to allow the syrup to permeate all the way through, or you’ll be left with a soggy bottom/middle that sticks to your wire rack. Don’t be afraid of the holes, they won’t show once the cake is inverted.

Lemon Bundt Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

This is an easy cake, and although a teensy bit time-consuming, it’s very beginner friendly. It would make a delightful addition to any table, sure to please any lemon fan. If you do decide to forego the syrup step, I recommend using a thinner glaze than shown here so you can cover the entire cake. The glaze is a necessary complement to the plainer cake and this will ensure you have some with every bite.

Lemon Bundt Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Lemon Bundt Cake

Adapted from Baking Bites
Serves 8-12

Ingredients

Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs
2 Tbsp fresh lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup buttermilk

Syrup

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

Glaze

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1-3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 10+ cup bundt pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and cream on medium speed until lightly colored and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined between each one.
  5. Stir in lemon zest.
  6. Add one third of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.
  7. Repeat with lemon juice, one third of flour mixture, buttermilk, and remaining flour mixture (in that order), stirring just until incorporated with each addition.
  8. Scoop into prepared pan, gently smoothing out the top.
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.
  10. During the last 10 minutes of baking, heat 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/2 sugar to boiling, then remove from the heat.
  11. Immediately after removing from the oven, poke deep holes in the bottom of the cake, and slowly pour the lemon syrup evenly over it, letting it soak into the cake.
  12. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  13. After the cake is cooled, vigorously stir together powdered sugar and lemon juice, adding more or less of each to desired consistency, and drizzle over the cake.
  14. Let the glaze set 20-30 minutes, then serve on its own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Notes

  • You’ll need 5-6 lemons for the whole recipe
  • A skewer or a meat thermometer is ideal for poking holes

Lemon Meringue Pie

LemonsThis week we return to the lovely summery flavor of lemon, since I successfully created a lemon meringue pie this time. As both a citrus flavor and a chilled dessert, it makes for a great summertime treat, although it’s equally delicious any other time of year.

Lemon meringue pie was the favorite of my maternal grandmother, and I made it for her birthday a couple of the years I was there to celebrate with her. Her birthday conveniently falls on Pi Day, the day before my own birthday, which make a lovely two days of meringue pie (lemon for her, chocolate for me.) Although she passed away last year, I still intend to celebrate Pi Day with lemon meringue for many years to come.

Lemon Meringue PiePerhaps the most easily screwed-up pie I’ve ever made, lemon meringue can be a daunting task for even an experienced pie baker. The easiest way to screw it up is to not cook the filling long enough, causing it not to set correctly in the fridge. It’s extremely important to heat the filling to a full rolling boil and then cook and stir for another minute or so; if in doubt go an extra thirty seconds just to be safe.

The instruction list is fairly long, but I have laid it out in the order I find to be most successful for me. I recommend reading through the entire list before starting to make sure you have everything easily accessible. The success of this pie relies somewhat on timing, and taking too long (or not long enough) between certain steps can result in a liquid filling or the meringue completely separating from the crust.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Adapted from argostarch.com
Makes 1 deep dish pie

Ingredients

Pastry for single-crust pie

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup heaping corn starch
2 cups water
5 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter

5 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp corn starch

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place pastry in pie dish being careful not to stretch the dough. Trim and crimp edges.
  3. Prick pastry GENEROUSLY with a fork, all over the bottom and sides of the pan.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown, and then cool on a wire rack.
  5. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees, and move oven rack to bottom third.
  6. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  7. Gradually add the sugar and corn starch, mixing between each addition to medium peaks. Leave in mixer bowl and start the pie filling.
  8. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, water and egg yolks.
  9. Heat over medium heat, whisking nearly constantly until mixture thickens and reaches a boil.
  10. Continue cooking, vigorously whisking until mixture is very thick and smooth, approximately 1 minute.
  11. Remove from heat and stir in butter, zest and lemon juice until smooth.
  12. Pour hot filling into pie crust, being careful to leave room for the meringue (it weighs more than you might think!)
  13. Return to your egg whites and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. (Tips stay straight.)
  14. Gently place the meringue over the hot filling, carefully sealing the edges completely. Swirl the meringue into peaks using a spatula or the back of a spoon.
  15. Bake for 10 minutes or until peaks of meringue are lightly browned.
  16. Cool at room temperature for about thirty minutes, and then place in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving.

Lemon Meringue PieNotes

  • I don’t like long strings of zest in things, so I generally chop it pretty fine before adding it to anything.
  • Pricking the crust before baking helps keep it from shrinking, so don’t be afraid to stab excessively.
  • Egg whites whip best at room temperature, and make VERY certain there is no water in the bowl or on the whisk/beaters before starting.
  • It is very important to cook the filling well. If you don’t, it will look thick when you pour it in the crust, but end up as liquid after it chills. Make sure to keep stirring and heating for another 60 seconds after it boils.
  • The sooner you can get the meringue onto the hot filling, the less likely separation will occur later. (Mine always separates which drives me insane.)
  • Unfortunately, this pie will not keep long so invite some people over to help you finish it the day of baking. (It will keep one day in the fridge alright but after that the meringue doesn’t keep its light and fluffy consistency.

Meyer Lemon Cookies

[After over a year of being a slacker and not posting a single thing, I’m back. I’m planning to post approximately every other week, so look for a new one every other Monday. Having graduated and started a Real Person Job, my life is far more stable than it was a year ago. With a new camera, a new stove, and (beginning next week!) tons more kitchen space, running a consistent food blog should be far easier. Hope you enjoy the new recipes. =)]

Around the beginning of April, the weather in Montana gives everyone a brief taste of Spring before retreating back to second winter (and third and fourth and fifth…) with a cruel laugh. Or maybe I’m personifying the weather a bit too much. But regardless, it is those first few hours of Spring that turn my thoughts to the flavors of summer, starting with lemon.

Over the past few years I’ve looked for a go-to lemon cookie recipe, and struggled to find one. I wanted a soft, lemony cookie that didn’t require a glaze or start with a cake mix. It took awhile, but I finally found a great one. The lemon taste is present but not overly powerful; the cookies are soft and chewy, and there’s no cake mix involved. Even better, other than a lemon, it’s all standard ingredients. The recipe is below with my [very minimal] changes and the method I followed to bake them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Meyer Lemon Cookies 

Lemon cookies Adapted from Lauren Brennan
Makes 2-3 dozen

Ingredients

1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
zest of 1 (Meyer) lemon
juice of 1/2 to 1  (Meyer) lemon

1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Pour powdered sugar into a shallow bowl or large plate.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy; this will take a few minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk the remaining dry ingredients in a separate small bowl.
  4. Beat the wet mixture into the sugar/butter until well mixed, scraping the sides at least once.
  5. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Scrape the sides and mix again briefly.
  6. Roll a tablespoon of dough into a ball and then roll in the powdered sugar. After all the dough is rolled, (I put all mine on a plate), place in the refrigerator while the oven preheats, or at least 15 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  8. When the dough balls are chilled, bake for 7-11 minutes, until the cookies are no longer shiny or melted looking, and the bottoms are barely browned.
  9. Let the cookies cool on the sheet while you fill the next batch and put them in the oven, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Try not to eat them all on the same day. =)

Lemon cookies 2

Ready to bake

Notes

  • I got about 34 cookies from the recipe, using a tablespoon cookie scoop.
  • I used the juice from half a Meyer lemon, but next time I’ll use the whole lemon to give a slightly stronger flavor.
  • I found that when the dough wasn’t chilled, some of the cookies turned out very flat and had overly browned edges.
  • The darker the cookie sheet the less baking time required. I used light-colored silicon mats on dark pans and my cookies needed 10 minutes.