New Hampshire ( and New England) has been in the grip of not only a heat wave, but that high humidity that makes moving two feet a trial, unless you're sitting on the edge of a lake with your feet in the water. And, mais oui, I also had a catering job.
Here is one thing I discovered: high humidity can affect your baking recipes. When I made the batter for the New York lemon cake, I was shocked. The batter was very light, and very fluffy, when it was supposed to be creamy and thick. Your intrepid baker did not panic, thank heavens, nor did I toss the batter and start again, or worse, bake it, hoping it would magically transform itself. I added about another half cup of flour and stirred it gently. It was still not quite right, but the texture was better. So I crossed my fingers and baked it. I'm happy to say it was just fine, although it needed twice as much time to cool, thanks to the 85 degree weather.
I brushed the uncut cake several times with a glaze, let cool some more, and cut into bite size pieces. I "glued" blueberries on the tops, and added tiny little leaves of lemon balm and lemon verbena, then popped them into dark green cupcake papers. I thought they were adorable.
After I delivered the salads and dishes and sweets, I drove by a shop I had often passed, but never stopped to investigate. And I'm delighted I finally did! Sarah's Hatboxes
was chock full of colorful, beautifully made hatboxes and boxes of every shape and size. These would also be perfect for mailing cakes , so I've tucked that away in my party/birthday/catering notebook. Above is the one I got for my mother to keep her postcards and letters in, and the striped fabric is just gorgeous.
You probably know my New York Lemon Cake by now, but here's the recipe again.
New York Lemon Cake:
Preheat oven to 330F (350 is too high, 32r too low)
Grease a standard baking pan 14"x9"
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
zest of two lemons
4 extra large eggs
4 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
1 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. nutmeg
Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest.
Add the eggs, flour, baking soda and salt and nutmeg.
Add the lemon juice and buttermilk and mix. The batter should be thick and creamy.
Bake for an hour, or until the cake is firm when gently pressed in the middle.
Simmer equal parts fresh lemon juice and sugar.
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar.
Let the cake sit on cooling rack ( still in the pan) for about 20 minutes.
Brush a few times with the glaze.
Let cake cool another 1/2 hour.
Mark off squares with a ruler and cut cake.
Remove pieces to a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet.
Brush a few times with the glaze, add blueberries to tops, and drip some sticky syrup to "glue" the berries on top of the cake. Add tiny leaves from your herb plants, and let set.