Posted by BCM on Friday, May 27, 2016 Under: Baking
We all tend to take lemons for granted nowadays. They’re cheap, in plentiful supply and available throughout the year.
It wasn’t always like that though.
Lemon trees are native to India and were first discovered in the Deccan Plateau in Central India centuries ago. Traders helped get them through Persia to Iraq and Egypt and we probably have the Crusaders to thank for bringing them back to Europe from their campaigns in the Holy Land. Serious cultivation in Europe only started in the 15th century around Genoa in Italy. Today, India is the world's largest producing country of lemons, followed by Mexico and Argentina.
Lemons would have been luxury items to begin with but they are still revered. If you ever visit Menton on the French Riviera in February you will find its famous Lemon Festival in full swing. Thousands flock there every year to enjoy citrus-themed parades, floats and giant displays made with tons of fruit.
So what is it about Lemons that makes them so special?
They are incredibly versatile. Low in sugar and high in vitamin C, they give extraordinary health benefits.
A quick gargle with lemon juice will soothe a sore throat in no time. The juice can sort out problems with digestion, treat kidney stones and even lower blood pressure. Many people swear by their anti-ageing properties. And, how far would the pioneering seafarers of the 18th century have got without lemons to treat scurvy?
Lemons are a godsend in the garden. No more coming down in the morning to find your bedding plants dug up by the squirrels. A few lemon skins strategically placed will see them off, and keep prowling cats at bay. A thorough dowsing in lemon juice will also kill persistent weeds dead.
But it’s in baking where lemons truly shine and excite the imaginations of cooks the world over.
Take, for example, the lemon drizzle cake. This is a basic sponge elevated to celestial heights by a lemony glaze topping that dries to a crisp translucency and shatters in your mouth with a zing when you take a bite. Glorious at teatime.
How about lemon and poppy seed muffins? The nuttiness of the seeds and the sharpness of the lemons give a flavour combination that's nothing less than sublime.
Lemon posset, a thick and creamy pudding served chilled is the perfect dessert matched with Italian biscotti.
Lemon meringue pie, lemon cheesecake, lemon crème brûlée, lemon cake and lemon curd. The list of mouth-watering confections that can be made with lemons goes on and on.
The simple message is: when life gives you lemons…..bake cakes!
In : Baking