I’ve been thinking about and planning my holiday baking — dreaming and scheming really — but either way, sweet and delicious things are on my mind.
The cookie baking day is already scheduled and I’m wondering about my old favorites as well as a few new recipes I’d like to try. The citrus we ordered from our daughter’s school fundraiser will be here shortly and I’ll have all kinds of thing to make with oranges and grapefruit.
All of this imagining got me remembering other holiday baked goods and how much my Nana loved fruit cake, which is one of those things that I wanted to love because she loved it so much, but really, that was never going to happen. But her lemon cake — now that was a dessert to relish. She served it with what she called a lemon butter sauce and I could have eaten the sauce itself by the spoonful if she would have let me. Of course she never did. Sigh.
In any case, Nana loved to entertain and spent lots of time in her kitchen draped in a cotton, gingham-print apron with brick-a-brack on the edges. She had a few favorites and so did I. Occasionally she would let me stir and mix with her and occasionally I did it right. What can I say, I was really young when we had kitchen time together and mostly I just wanted to play in the flour and mostly she just wanted to finish the cake.
This cake could easily be a breakfast/brunch dish as well as a holiday dessert. It’s a moist one because of the prunes, so would also make a good gift. Either way you choose to serve it, this recipe from my Nana is my gift to you all this season. While you won’t have the memories of her that I cherish, you will make your own memories with her special food.
Lemon Prune Cake with Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce
3 cups all-purpose flour
11/2 teaspoons salt
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
21/2 cups sugar
11/4 cups milk
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
Zest from one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from about 1 lemon)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 cup diced prunes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until just well mixed. Pour into prepared cake pan using a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl.
Bake until cake springs back when lightly pressed in the middle and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan before serving either warm or room temperature with Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce.
Lemon Butter Sauce
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter (51/3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped
In a medium double boiler heat egg yolks until they lighten in color, whisking fairly consistently.
Gradually add sugar, continuing to heat and whisk.
Remove from heat and add butter, lemon rind and juice. Fold in whipped cream.
Chill and serve on top of warm cake.
Makes enough to serve with cake plus extra — have a spoon ready.
Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at:[email protected]