I adore winter and its frostbitten cheer. Autumn is lovely in its burnt orange shade, bringing apples crisp as fallen leaves and a cool wind, warm with cinnamon. Summer is divine in its simplicity, and its navy night skies that never really let go of the sun. But this is the first week of spring, the season of bird songs and lavender and budding new life. My most favorite season of all.
(Excuse my merciless adjective abuse.)
I’m sitting here trying to think of things to say about how much I love spring and I just can’t. I cannot put it into words. I guess it’s like Mother Nature went down the pastel aisle at Michael’s and drew all over everything in the world. That’s what spring is like. It’s like all the puppies and kittens and bunnies and baby chicks are parading around flaunting their cuteness and snuggling in fluffy white blankets because that’s what cute baby animals are supposed to do. Cuddle with things. Spring is one big cuddle fest of nature. There. I found words.
Note to self/everyone: when faced with writer’s block, start talking about baby animals and everything will be okay.
In all aspects of life, the springtime has brought many beautiful things. Like cookies for friends, mason jar candle lanterns, pottery, and pizza night.
And when I wake up and the birds are singing, I like to open all the windows and make breakfasts like this.
Is it just me, or is more than just the earth in bloom this season? In a matter of months I’ll be embarking on this new cool adventure called my dream college, in New York City nonetheless. (!!!!!!) I feel like my brain is a cauldron of bubbling ambitions… it’s the best feeling in the world. There are a bazillion new babies and everyone’s in love and the sky is blue and it’s beautiful. Maybe it’s the whole apocalypse deal. I dunno. But I love it.
Okay, lemon cake. I made some. It was Spring, in the form of a dainty tangy light and lovely little cake. It is the edible embodiment of ‘chic.’ If Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a dessert… okay, you get it.
I know that I’ve professed my love for Whole Foods here before, but really, once is not enough.
I make an event out of my trips to Whole Foods. Sometimes I get dressed up. I usually wear lipstick. I may or may not have a crush on the produce department but nobody needs to know that. I would be beyond embarrassed if someone found out that I sometimes write about heirloom tomatoes in my diary. Or that I have this reoccurring basil dream. Or that one time when I was trying to decide between red or green kale I… wait. Oh no. This is so awkward.
I’m talking about Whole Foods today because last week, in the citrus section, I finally found my first bag of Meyer Lemons. I could have cried. It felt like I just saw a sign that said: “Free room full of Christian Louboutin pumps, Mac lipstick, and gift cards to Neiman Marcus.” I’m pretty sure there was a Hallelujah Chorus present because when I spotted those tangy hybrid oddities, I swear I heard singing from the heavens. Meyer lemons, for those of you who think I’ve gone mad and made up my own citrus fruit, are Japanese hybrids of regular lemons and mandarin oranges. They’re little, smooth, deep yellowy-orange in color, and much sweeter than regular lemons. They have a distinct perfume-y smell, and make things sound fancy and gourmet (!).
According to my taste buds, lemon curd is king of the dessert kingdom. I couldn’t imagine doing anything with my first bag of Meyer lemons but cooking them down into Meyer lemon curd… and then using it to fill the most precious baby doughnuts ever. Mini things, rare lemons, hot oil… it was an all around good time.
Bless you, Meyer Lemons.
Once upon a time, I made three cakes in one night.
50% of which was fed to my ever so voracious garbage disposal.
It was traumatic.
I had been dreaming of lemon cake for weeks. Weeks! Lemon layers, lemon curd, and some fluffy cloud frosting. That’s all. Not that huge of a request, right? Wrong. I had a promising recipe for a two layer cake… but I had been dreaming of three. You can just spread out the batter into three pans, right? They’ll just be uber thin. Wrong! They’ll be crunchy and ew. When you’ve got sketchy cake layers, take my advice and stop right there. Don’t try and stack them with too-thin-but-really-good lemon curd and don’t make last minute cream cheese frosting instead of meringue. Just don’t do it. It’s really a poor choice all around. It tastes good, yes, but it’s a soupy flop hot mess mush cake lemon thing. No one really wants one of those.
If you’re anything like me, it’ll be close to midnight when you assemble your disaster. You might eat a decent amount of it out of shame, and then sit on the kitchen floor and cry. Through your tears you will then decide that it’s a great time to start making a redeem-yourself lemon poppy seed bundt cake. When you realize you’re one and a half egg yolks short and don’t have authentic buttermilk, stop. Don’t make it anyways. Go to sleep, and make it in the morning. Don’t use extra egg whites and butter instead of the missing yolks. Don’t take it out of the oven before it’s done, and above all, do NOT let your impatience get the best of you and take it out of the pan while it’s still hot. It will come half out of the pan and taste/feel like spongy supermaket angel sponge food cake. And by then, it will be two in the morning, your feet will hurt, and your tearstained cheeks will be covered in abstract drippy eyeliner art.
Apparently, the whole “third time’s a charm” deal is pretty valid. When you’ve passed the two failed cakes mark, it’s about time to make some cupcakes. Cupcakes are invincible.
These are a bit on the laborious side of things, but they’re worth every mix and scoop and fill and toast. They’re filled with my favorite ever lemon curd and topped with the meringue of your dreams. These are time-to-make-amends cupcakes. They’re sorry-I-forgot-to-pack-your-lunch cupcakes. They’re look-at-my-fancy-cupcake cupcakes.
I generally feel as if I’m not where I’m supposed to be. It’s 2011 and I’m in southern California. Something’s up. Early 1960’s Georgia seems just about right.
Sweet tea and honey and firefly skies- it’s all so unadorned, so beautiful. I dream of wrap-around porches and peaches for days. I wish I could live in The Secret Life of Bees. For now, the closest I can get is in my kitchen. I make things like buttermilk biscuits and lemon curd and I close my eyes and feel the sticky air.
Of course three-tiered cakes and lavish pastries hold a mighty fine piece of my heart, but it’s always the simplest things that win me over. You can boast and brag all you want about your citrus dacquoise and your hazelnut praline, Mr. Fancy, but I’m sorry to say I’d rather a buttermilk biscuit. Is it safe to say that most of you would, too?
These are for those moments you spend wishing things were simpler. For those days you can’t stop thinking of Lily, Rosaline, August, and May.
These biscuits are golden and buttery, soft and flaky, and most importantly serve as a beautiful backdrop for some show-stopping lemon curd. Raise your hand if you agree that it’s super unfortunate that lemon curd is called lemon curd. Yeah, I know, I wish they picked a more attractive name, too. But please don’t let its title fool you- this lemon curd is arguably the best thing that’s ever come out of my kitchen.
Filed under Breakfast, Lemon