I have been unable to make a clear decision about whether I should purchase a mini-oven for my tiny studio. In some ways, having only one burner and a microwave to cook with has actually had a positive effect on me. I have come up with some new dishes and adapted to cooking with only one pan. However, not being able to bake makes me sad. Even though there are bakeries on every corner, sometimes I just want to stress-bake some cupcakes or roast some garlic!
I have lasted this long because I can occasionally use the oven at my au pair family’s house, but it requires lots of planning and time, plus hefting my baking bag of flour, sugar, and other ingredients down and back up 7 flights of stairs. Those evil – I mean, ass-tightening, heart-rate-pumping, lovely – stairs also pop into my head every time I imagine walking out of the store carrying my new oven (or just the receipt, while one of my strong male friends carries it for me, let’s be honest) – how will I get it up here?? And do I really want to spend 30 euros on it, plus at least 30 more for baking pans and oven mitts?
Luckily, my friend Phoebe generously invited me to her apartment in the 20ème to use her oven last weekend, so I bought some time on my decision. She only has a loaf pan, so loaf cake it was! We decided on a lemon recipe from the internet based on its simplicity, and we deemed it a success. I can’t promise that you will be able to replicate this cake (I’m not sure we could either!), as we had no measuring cups or spoons and made a few changes as we went. It just goes to show that baking doesn’t always have to be an exact science! An absence of cake flour led to adjusting the amount we used, a lack of lemon zest meant adding more lemon juice, and for good measure, Phoebe poured the extra butter left in the bowl on top of the pan of cake batter once in the pan! I knew there was a reason why I liked her!
Lemon Loaf Cake
adapted from ouichefnetwork.com
-2 cups (240 grams) cake flour [we did approximately 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour]
-3/4 teaspoon baking powder [eyeballed]
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt [eyeballed]
-1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (1 3/8 sticks/156 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to slightly warm
-1/4 cup (60 grams) heavy cream, at room temperature [eyeballed; we used weird thick cream mixed with milk to thin it out]
-3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons) [we only had approx. 2 tbsp]
-1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon) [we used the juice of 2 lemons]
-3 tablespoons poppy seeds/28 grams [we omitted these]
-4 eggs/200 grams
-1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar [eyeballed]
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 ℉. [Or, heat your microwave oven to 180 degrees Celsius.]
Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. Set aside.
Using a handheld mixer, beat together the eggs and granulated sugar on medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes, or until light and fluffy and lemon colored.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture just until combined. Fold the egg-flour mixture into the butter-cream mixture just until thoroughly combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Pour any extra butter from the butter bowl on top.
Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back when you press it in the middle.
Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before devouring.