November 1 is in ** counting on fingers ** 3 days. Do you KNOW what that means?
The holiday season will be starting – so bring on the sparkly lights! And the decorations! And the Christmas music that will play repetitively until you want to run screaming from a store because you can’t take it anymore!
Seriously, would you like to know one of the elements I am most excited about this holiday season? The fact that we are going to have a 100% genuine, real Christmas tree.
It may not seem like much, but believe me, it is. I love everything about real trees, and it’s been too many years since I’ve had one.
Way too many.
Some of my fondest Christmas memories are of when my brothers would come home a few days before the holiday with an enormous, real tree ~ my mother would take one look and sigh….. and make the inevitable trip(s) to the store because we would need more lights and more ornaments….
And then, the day after Christmas, there would be the mad scramble to get the tree stripped down and removed from the house ~ because it was a fire hazard waiting to happen.
Really, though, there is nothing like the smell and beauty of a real tree 🙂
And gingerbread houses, too ~ but after the Great Gingerbread House Collapse of 2011, I’m not sure I’m up to that task again.
But I refuse to be a quitter, so perhaps I’ll
sweetly persuade bribe my resident engineer to help with the structural technicalities of the house — you know, so the roof doesn’t cave in again…..
I need to make another loaf of this cake, and perhaps a batch of pasta e fagioli ~ and throw myself at his mercy…….
Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.
Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.