Etrog Lemon Cake

Originally, this recipe was for Elderflower Lemon Cake. And I do love elderflower – especially this fabulous sparkling French soda I tried in Chicago…<drool> – but I didn’t have elderflower cordial (St. Germain) around. In fact, I never have. But I’d certainly like to try it in the near future. Instead, I used some of my mother’s homemade etrog liqueur.

If you practice Judaism, or perhaps if you’ve ever celebrated the festival of Sukkot, you are already familiar with the etrog. The etrog is basically an ugly lemon. It’s a little bigger, and it has very little juice. But the smell is that of citronella, even on the outside! During the festival, it is waved with other tree branches – that’s a long story.

After the festival is over, there is very little to do with the etrog – it does not make for good eating. What my father-in-law and my mother have done is use it to make etrog liqueur. This takes time, obviously, and there are different methods. I’m not sure which one either use, but my father-in-law’s is always very strong and slightly bitter, and my mom’s was delicate and sweet. It had a background of vanilla, too. Yum.

I do hate recipes that measure flour in ounces, but c’est la vie. I found 8 ounces of my all-purpose flour to be around 2 cups, but I would suggest weighing, because it wasn’t exact. I do also hate recipes that use self-rising flour, because I never, ever have it on hand. However, it turns out that if you add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder to each cup of flour, you make self-rising flour. This I did, making the quantities just a bit less than double, for the amount of flour I was using. Worked great.

Also, I did not serve mine with cream. It certainly doesn’t need it, but that would probably be lovely and very tasty, if you decide to go that route.

P.S. – I will admit to not having enough butter on hand (2 sticks!), and using half butter and half coconut oil. Shhh…. no one will ever know.

Joshua says: 10 out of 10. He declared this to be the most moist cake he’s ever eaten, and he was downing pieces of it while I was cutting it up to serve. I will agree with the moist factor – amazingly over-the-top on that point. However, I probably could have cooked my cake longer. The tester came out clean, so I went with it, but I should have paid more attention to the slightly wobbly center, which proceeded to fall down, down, down to the very depths of my loaf pan and be creamy and mushy. A little longer in the oven probably would have prevented that, but I don’t know if it would have changed the moistness of the rest of the cake, particularly the edges. Next time, we’ll see.


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