After a few needed weeks of vacation and traveling, I’m back in the kitchen. I’m easing my way back into the swing of things with easy, fool-proof recipes. I found one such recipe at epicrack.com. OK, it was two recipes that I combined into one. (I’m creative like that…)
Basically, I needed something that would travel well without refrigeration. I was traveling in a car, so it’s not like I needed something that would withstand the heat of the desert whilst on camel-back. I just needed something that would make it from my house to the car rental office and then on a two hour car journey. Oh, and it had to be a breakfast item. I came up with tea bread and fruit because I feel like anything you serve for tea can also be eaten first thing in the morning.
The best tea breads are like the best coffee cakes—dense and not overly sweet. I present Lemon Tea Bread with strawberries. The strawberries are amended with lemon sugar and lavender syrup. Hey, I said I liked my tea bread less sweet… I didn’t say a damn thing about the crap I put on top of the bread. As I mentioned you can find the original recipes on epicrack (I made some minor changes which are below). The tea bread recipe makes two loaves and the strawberry recipe serves eight which is enough for the two loaves.
Lemon Tea Bread
- 2 large lemons
- 3 C all-purpose flour
- 2 t baking powder
- ½ t salt
- 1½ sticks (¾ C) unsalted butter, softened
- 2½ C sugar, divided
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ C whole milk
- ¼ C sour cream
- 2 T poppy seeds
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour two 9- x 5- x 3-inch metal loaf pans, knocking out any excess flour.
Finely zest both lemons. (The original recipe calls for you to measure out just a wee bit of zest, but I like a zesty, sassy bread. If you’re going to make the strawberries below, set 1 t of zest aside to use in that recipe.) Squeeze enough juice to measure about ½ cup.
Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter, 2 cups sugar, and zest until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed add flour mixture and milk/sour cream alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until batter is combined well.
Beat in poppy seeds and 1 T lemon juice and divide batter between loaf pans, smoothing tops. Bake loaves in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour.
While loaves are baking, in a small bowl stir together remaining lemon juice and remaining ½ cup sugar until sugar is dissolved. (As a note, I juiced the lemons into a larger measuring cup and then just whisked the sugar in. No need to dirty another bowl, people.)
Cool loaves in pans on a rack 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert loaves onto rack. Turn loaves right side up and pierce tops all over with a thin skewer. Repeatedly brush lemon glaze over tops of loaves until all of glaze is absorbed.
Cool loaves completely. Tea bread keeps, wrapped in wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 4 days or, wrapped in foil and frozen, 1 month.
Strawberries with Lemon Sugar and Lavender Syrup
- ⅓ C plus ½ C sugar
- 1 t finely grated lemon peel
- ½ C water
- 2 T honey
- 2 t dried lavender blossoms (Whole Foods has them in the bulk section.)
- 3 pounds strawberries, hulled, sliced
- Crème fraîche or sour cream (If you’re putting these on top of the bread, I’d skip this part as the bread will serve a similar sweet-reducing function.)
Mash ⅓ cup sugar and lemon peel in small bowl to blend well. (Lemon sugar can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and store at room temperature. And, as an additional note, it tastes lovely in herbal tea if you end up with extra.)
Bring ½ cup sugar, ½ cup water, honey, and lavender to boil in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lavender flavor is pronounced, about 3 minutes. Strain syrup into small bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature. Re-warm syrup before continuing.)
Place berries in large bowl. Pour warm syrup over berries; stir to coat. Divide berries and syrup among 8 bowls. Spoon crème fraîche over berries, sprinkle with lemon sugar, and serve immediately.
So, I drizzled the berries with the syrup, put them on the bread, and then sprinkled the sugar on top.
Well, stupidly (and rather typically, let’s be honest), I only took a picture of the bread as it cooled on the rack. But, notice the pleasant glaze marks on the side.
I should have taken a picture of my awesome combo bread/strawberries, but it was early in the morning when I was assembling it. Anyway, let’s not dwell on my faults. This makes a rather nice sweet breakfast, a lovely tea snack, or an adult dessert. With the lemon flavor, I don’t think the young ‘uns would dig it. Although, my weirdo Mr. Moo liked the bottom (non-glazed portion).
And, I bet lavender syrup would be a nice switch on top of blueberry pancakes. Just a thought for next time.