BakingPhil Project 3: Lemon Tea Bread (Recipe 6.17)

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The last two mixing methods, biscuit and muffin have been exercises of gentility, of assembling an aggregate of ingredients. Learning to mix “just until combined.” It required trust that the heat of the oven will meld all the pieces into a final tasty product. This week’s mixing technique “creaming” usually seems partner to with “folding” too. These mixing motions are different in speed and direction from the collecting mode of biscuits and muffins. There are many websites that offer good explanations of “creaming” that you can find at the end of this post. Creaming is a multi step process of creating a light and fluffy mixture of whipped butter and sugar that is then folded into the dry ingredients (eggs and milk are usually added in between). It’s like going to a party with a friend and then mixing/ socializing with others, as a pair. In architectural terms, creamed butter and sugar is like cement in a building, except fluffy and delicious.

What I learned:

  1. Room temperature butter is essential. It will not cream without this step. This means, I have to think ahead when using this method in order to let the butter come to temp. There it is……the waiting. It’s not only a “mise-en-place” in space but also in time.
  2. The proportion of butter and sugar makes a difference in texture and fluffiness. This recipe had 3 oz of butter and 10 oz of sugar. The mix was not a cream at all. It was like grainy sand. Maybe this recipe isn’t the best example of the creaming method…but what do I know.
  3. Sometimes baking can be like nesting dolls. Ingredients are paired and combined then combined again to other combinations of ingredients. It is very formulaic and sequenced. When you ask for a recipe, the ingredients will only tell you half of the story. You’ll have to ask for directions and the sequence of events that leads up to the production of yummy.

{[[(Cream+Sugar) + (milk+ eggs)+(flour, baking powder, salt)]+ lemon zest ]+heat} + (lemon juice +sugar)

Or something like this……. I was never good at math.

The taste: The lemon tea cake was VERY moist. I could hardly get the piece out of the pan without breaking it. [confession: the recipe DID say, take out the cake and THEN pour the syrup….but did I listen…noooooo] The recipe called for pouring lemon sugar syrup over the hot cake. Very suspicious. Seems strange to be pouring liquid over our spongy, airy efforts. By the time we took a bite the syrup had infused the cake with a fresh lemon flavor. Even though added after the cooking process, the syrup was surely not ornamental. It’s like a cake version of a lemon bar. My tiny taster, Ava and I decided it needed some whipped cream. Really good recipe and would definitely make it again (next time I’ll take it out of the loaf pan).

Credits

Lemons produced somewhere warm for us in cold places to enjoy thanks to the miracle of the trucking industry, microplane manufacturers, flour, milk, refrigerators that keep milk cold, sugar, butter, eggs, bowls, loaf pans, ovens, timers, whisks, spatulas, the recipe, language and numbers and so much more…….

More on the Creaming Method:

http://www.craftybaking.com/howto/mixing-method-creaming

http://www.completelydelicious.com/2013/05/baking-essentials-the-creaming-method.html

http://www.bakeinfo.co.nz/Facts/Cake-making/Creaming-method

Here’s the recipe:

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