What can I bake with 2 lemons and no grater?
April 20, 2020 4:23 PM   Subscribe

I have 2 fresh lemons gifted from a neighbor, an incurable sweet tooth, and the skills of an adventurous beginner baker. What should I (attempt to) make?

- I don't want to buy more lemons from the store, because I want to taste what super fresh homegrown lemon is like.
- I don't own a grater/zester/food processor/electric mixer.
- I *do*, however, have a mandoline/Y-peeler/pastry cutter/blender! (Plus basic baking/cooking accoutrements)

What should I bake, O wise meta-oracle?
posted by serelliya to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Lemon bars! I am not sure if 2 will be enough. Try microwaving them and massaging them against the counter before you cut them open to try to get as much juice as you can out of them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened in microwave
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix very well

Press into bottom of ungreased 9x13. Bake for 20 minutes. OK to let cool afterward, at least a bit, so that it stays together when you pour the filling.

Meanwhile, make the FILLING
1.25 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup lemon juice (4-5 lemons)
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp flour
optional: Zest of 2 lemons (mostly for color, also adds a more floral flavor.)

Mix sugar and flour
Add in and whisk with eggs and lemon juice and zest

Pour over baked crust and bake for additional 25 minutes.

Let cool to set before cutting.
posted by amaire at 4:29 PM on April 20, 2020 [9 favorites]

a fork scraped across the peel will get you lemon zest without a zester...
posted by calgirl at 4:41 PM on April 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

Citrus zest is a wonderful component so I encourage you to try and make use of it despite lacking a good tool for the extraction thereof. I haven't tried the fork method that calgirl mentions, but careful (tedious) work with a sharp knife will liberate the precious curls of sunshine while leaving behind most of the harsh white pith.
posted by exogenous at 4:46 PM on April 20, 2020

If you have a Y-peeler, you're all set for zest — use it to peel off just the zest without going into the pith, then use a knife to mince the zest as finely as you like it.
posted by Lexica at 4:56 PM on April 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the tips on DIY zesting! Does anyone know how much zest I should expect to get from 2 lemons?

amaire's recipe is also a strong contender, thinking I could halve it (to reduce the amount of lemon juice required) and bake in a brownie pan...
posted by serelliya at 4:58 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

You should expect to get about a tablespoon of zest per typical lemon.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:01 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

I love this lemon turmeric tea cake. It also only requires two lemons. When I make it I use the zest of both lemons and leave off the sliced lemon rings on the top. At any rate, it makes a lovely, lemony loaf that is a beautiful color.

posted by djinn dandy at 6:31 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

I can vouch for this cake, even if you replace the cake flour with all purpose flour and the buttermilk with a mix of milk and yogurt. I kind of free styled on the frosting, cutting the butter, increasing the lemon, and adding a little flour to thicken it. (This may be heresy to real chefs, but it tasted fine to me.)
posted by slidell at 6:32 PM on April 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Martha Stewart lemon poppyseed cake uses exactly two lemons. The lemon syrup drizzle at the end really punches up the flavor. (OK to leave out the poppyseeds if you don't have any.)
posted by dum spiro spero at 7:36 PM on April 20, 2020

Smitten kitchen’s whole lemon tart is my go to easy lemon dessert. I do the filling in a blender.
posted by Maeve at 7:36 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

After zesting and juicing - don't throw away the rinds! Put in a jar with sugar and make lemon syrup.
posted by dum spiro spero at 11:51 PM on April 20, 2020

A Shaker lemon pie uses the whole lemon for maximum lemony flavor. It's what I decided to make with the three lemons my little potted Meyer lemon produced last year.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 1:35 AM on April 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Whichever recipe you choose, if you are using the whole lemon you should pay attention to the advice in SmittenKitchen's recipe: Slice the lemon in half and then examine the size of the rind. Some lemons have tiny thin skins and are fine for whole lemon recipes but others have huge thick protective skins. For those, you should use the inside of the lemon and the lemon zest, but be mindful of how much bitter rind you include. Source: grew up in Phoenix where everyone has lemon trees in their yards.
posted by CathyG at 6:37 AM on April 21, 2020

In my country variations on this lemon loaf recipe are the basic baking you do with your kids, the simple cake you make without stress or trouble. Hard to get wrong, syrup disguises all faults. Have it with a nice strong cup of tea.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:19 PM on April 21, 2020

Just made amaire's recipe, cut in half to use only two lemons. Can confirm delicious.
posted by oryelle at 4:59 AM on April 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

I can now also vouch for amaire's recipe (halved), even in the hands of a novice baker. I didn't read the instructions for the filling and just dumped all of the ingredients into a bowl before starting to mix, so I had a few lumps, but it still set in the oven and tastes delicious. devrim's lemon curd filling is probably more rich, but I don't even know what a double boiler is so I decided to stick with just mixing in a bowl, heh.

But, now I want to go out and buy more lemons to try all of the other recipes here!
posted by serelliya at 5:34 PM on April 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm so pleased!! Yum.
posted by amaire at 9:07 PM on April 23, 2020

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