Mmmm…zippy!

Up until an age I am truly embarrassed to admit, I believed that poppy seeds were dried spider eggs.  I also believed cheetos were super old rusty nails–and thus, a good source of irn.  That aliens often landed in our local mountains (serendipitously close to times when we’d be camping there) and that it was impossible to eat and be cold at the same time.

Thanks mom.

It should be no surprise then that my relationship with poppy seeds is a little shaky.  Objectively I know where they come from.  Subjectively, they make the hair on my arms stand on end.  And so, it was with a little trepidation that I tried this fantastic citrus loaf recipe from the Huckleberry cookbook.

In the original the recipe calls for kumquats, lemon and tangerine zests.  However I can only ever find kumquats in Southern California in mid-spring.  So, I pursued the citrus section at the local market and went with lemons, tangerines and a humble navel orange.  But you know what they say, when life gives you lemons…

I was attracted to this recipe because it uses butter instead of oil as the fat source.  Often loaf cakes call for oil instead of butter as a way of helping to keep things moist and tender.  In general butter ranges from 80-90% milk fat (the remaining is water) whereas oil is generally 100% fat.  That water can help gluten strings to form–good for a chewy pizza crust, bad for a crumby, tender loaf or muffin.

But, butter tastes better.  So, I dove right in.  If I was actually doing my due diligence I would have baked a comparator alongside this loaf.  Maybe Ina’s yogurt lemon loaf.  But I didn’t.  And, as a stand alone, I thought this bread was pretty fantastic.  Zesty and moist with a little richness I think I might have to continue my experimentation with butter.

 Lemon Kumquat Poppy Teacake

from Huckleberry stories, secrets and recipes from our kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 C+ 2 TBS/ 255 g unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 C/ 200 g sugar plus 3 TBS
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Zest of 8 kumquats, fruit reserved
  • Zest and juice of 3 lemons
  • Zest of 1 tangerine
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 C/ 160 g all purpose flour
  • 1/4 C/ 35 g pastry flour
  •  1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBS + 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 TBS buttermilk
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line with parchment a 9X5 loaf pan.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter, 1 C/200 g of star, salt and citrus zests on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Incorporate the eggs and egg yolks one-at-a-time, because well after each addition.  Scrape down sides of bowl a couple of times.
  4. Add-in the flours, baking powder, poppy seeds and vanilla.  Mix-on low until ingredients are just combined.
  5. Scoop batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 60 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched and cake tester comes out clean.
  6. While loaf is cooking, combined the lemon juice, 3 TBS of sugar and reserved kumquats in a blender.  Blend to a course puree.
  7. In a small pan, simmer the puree until the sugar dissolves completely, about 2 minutes.  Set aside.
  8. Once out of the oven, let rest for 5 minutes then remove loaf from pan.  Strain the glaze and brush it on all sides of the car while the cake is still warm.

 

Candied citrus peel

I love oranges.  Navel, blood, tangerines, mandarines, tangelos–love them all. We even used an orange motif (both the fruit and the color)  to tie our wedding together.

Table number: My mom; Photo Credit: Betwixt Studio

So, when a recipe I was making called for candied citrus peel, I jumped at the chance to make my own.  I researched several recipes and finally chose the one below from the Food Network kitchens.

This recipe would work with any thick-skinned citrus fruit. I used some giant–and very juicy navels for this recipe.

The peeling part is easy.  Lop of the top and bottom of the orange. Then, score the peel into quarters and peel (and if you are me, have flashbacks of that one year I played soccer as a child).  I saved the juice from the fruit for another recipe.

Then the peels get cut into strips and blanched three times–Julius Caeser style. The blanching softens up the pith.

Once the peels are blanched, a simple heavy syrup gets made.  And yes, a candy thermometer is used.

When the syrup reaches the correct temp, in go the peels.

Where they simmer for about an hour–or until the peels become transparent.

Then out of the syrup and into the sugar.

Once sufficiently dusted with the sweet stuff, the peels are dried over night on cooling racks.  The final product is sweet and zesty with just a bit of bite.

I will definitely be making these for the holidays next year, dipped in chocolate and wrapped in clear cellophane.  Italy dusted in sugar!

Candied Orange Peel

Food Network Kitchens

  • 6 thick-skinned oranges
  • 4.5 C sugar for extra for rolling
  • 1.5 C water

Cut tops and bottoms off of the orange and score the orange into quarters, cutting down only into the peel and not into the fruit. Peel the skin and pith of the orange in large pieces, use the orange for another recipe. Cut the peel into strips about .25-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to aboil over high heat. Then pour off the water. Repeat 1 or 2 more times depending up how assertive you want the orange peels to be. (Test kitchen liked the texture of a 3 time blanch best, it also mellowed the bitterness. But it is a matter of preference.) Remove the orange peels from the pan.

Whisk the sugar with 1.5 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes (If you took the sugar’s temperature with a candythermometer it would be at the soft thread stage, 230 to 234 degrees F.) Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing heat to retain a simmer. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Resist the urge to stir the peels or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. If necessary, swirl the pan to move the peels around. Drain the peels, (save the syrup for ice tea.) Roll the peels in sugar and dry on a rack, for 4 to 5 hours. Return to the sugar to store.