I have really been missing the big lemon tree that was in the backyard of our rental house in the Bay Area. I took for granted how easy it was to walk out and grab a few almost any time of year.
Our potted Meyer lemon tree made the move and it’s still hanging on, but it didn’t produce any lemons this year.
I was running the other day and I noticed that towards the end of the public running path, a large lemon tree hangs over a backyard fence. I’d been eyeing it for weeks and a few days ago I finally got the courage to grab a few.
It’s called gleaning, I know. And perfectly acceptable in most places. Especially since most of that fruit is going to go to waste. But that didn’t keep me from feeling super shady as I grabbed the lemons and watched over my shoulder to see if anyone was going to walk up the path and bust me.
As expected though, no one noticed. So I had my lemons and no one was the wiser.
Once they were safely in my kitchen, I combined them with pomegranates we received from friends. I figure if only half of your ingredients are stolen and the other half are gifted to you, they cancel each other out and all that matters is the final result.
And this is the final result.
A pleasantly dense cake with hints of lemon and festive dots of color added by pomegranate arils. The cake isn’t super sweet, a fault I find with a lot of lemon desserts. I think we often try to mask the qualities of the lemon and end up with something way too sugary. The sweet glaze is what makes all the difference and creates the delicious balance of tart lemon and sweetness from sugar and pomegranates.
The recipe makes two small loaves. Perfect for giving one away and keeping the other for yourself!
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup pomegranate arils
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup 2% or 1% milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two small 6 x 3 inch loaf pans with butter.
- In a small bowl, toss 2 tablespoons of the flour with the pomegranate arils until they are well coated. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the eggs. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and almond extract and mix until blended in.
- With the mixer on low, add the milk and then slowly add the dry ingredients, a third at a time. Mix just until the flour is incorporated.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and carefully fold in the pomegranate arils. Gently stir until they are mixed into the batter so that they do not break up and color the batter.
- The batter will be very thick. Transfer an equal amount to each of the two prepared baking pans.
- Place the loaf pans on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the bread is baked through and a toothpick inserted into the center come out clean. A toothpick test is essential for this cake as the thick batter can be tricky to judge whether or not it has baked through completely.
- Transfer the pans to a cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cake from the pans and cool another 10 to 15 minutes before adding the glaze.
- For the glaze, add the lemon juice to a small bowl. Whisk in the powdered sugar until the glaze is smooth. Whisk in the pinch of salt.
- Drizzle the glaze over the cakes. Let set 10 more minutes before slicing to serve.
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