Maybe it's because it is chucking it down with rain outside and I am sitting here with my left wrist in plaster typing one-handed or maybe it's just because I love them but this week is all about lemons. I had some exciting news this week when we exchanged contracts on a house near A's sister in Greece. She sent us a picture of the garden this week blanketed in snow with our lemon tree posing sunnily in the middle, ripe for picking. She has been merrily scrumping ever since.
Wandering around Spitalfields market yesterday, shivering in the damp air, I picked up some aragostini at one of the food stalls. These delicately layered Italian pastries in the shape of lobster tails are a variation of sfogliatella (meaning small, thin, leaf layer), the difference (I think) being aragostini are filled with pastry cream and sfogliatella are filled with ricotta or almond paste and candied peel. The last time I ate one of these I was basking in the sunshine in a cafe in Amalfi, a town along that beautiful coastline famed for its lemons. This time I bought lemon, chocolate and pistachio flavours (5 for £4.00 - rude not to!), picked up a bowl of freshly made carbonara at another stall (no cream - hurray!) and sat on a bench to pig out. The carbonara was hot, creamy and delicious, the egg creating that velvety mouthfeel. I bit into the aragostini and just for one second I could have been back at that cafe again.
My next foray into lemons this week was madeleines. Eaten straight from the oven. Although because they are best eaten like this it seems to give me licence to eat three in a row. I added half a teaspoon of lemon oil to the batter which gave it an extra lemony kick and smelt divine....
Finally lemon and blackcurrant loaf. Recipe below....have been meaning to share this one for a while but it needed tweaking...nice with a dollop of creme fraiche or just on its own.
Lemon and Blackcurrant Loaf
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
3 large free range eggs
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2.5 tbsps lemon curd
Zest of 1 lemon
100g blackcurrants (I used frozen ones, defrosted).
Juice of 1 lemon
50g caster sugar
Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin. Pre-heat oven to 160°C/Fan 140°C/Gas Mark 3.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one by one. Add lemon zest. Sift flour and baking powder into bowl then fold into mixture. Add a third of the mixture to the loaf tin then cover with 100g of the blackcurrants. Cover with another third of the mixture. Spread the lemon curdon top of this and add the final third of the mixture. Use a skewer to incorporate the lemon curd through the mixture, weaving in different directions to combine.
Bake in the oven for one hour and 25 minutes, test with a skewer - pierce cake, hold for a few seconds then remove, if it is clean the loaf is cooked.
Mix together the lemon juice and caster sugar for the topping. Add the blackcurrants and drizzle on top of the cooling loaf. Cool in tin.