Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lemon Picnic Loaf

It's May!  Almost time for rhubarb and strawberries, fiddle heads and asparagus, long bike rides and picnics.  Do you like picnics?  I confess that I've probably never planned a perfect picnic with little containers or mayo-free salads and glass jars filled with lemonade.  But we've had lovely coffee + scone breaks in the park, PBJs from plastic lunch containers pulled from our bike packs, and lots of ice cream (cones and cups) and icy drinkings while strolling or lounging on grassy, hilly areas of the park.

I love the idea of picnics and one day this summer, perhaps I'll plan the perfect picnic with a perfect picnic menu, one that includes the perfect picnic dessert -- a dessert that's fuss-free, not to sticky or melty and one that definitely won't get squished on the way to the park.  A dessert like this lovely lemon loaf.  It's refreshing and lemony and just sweet enough to be called dessert.  Add a little glaze on it, and it would definitely be a great contender next to those chocolatey treats that we sometimes need a break from.

This loaf is sturdy, but not stodgy.  It has a nice, tender crumb, and even though it's vegan (meaning no eggs to keep it together), it does not fall apart when you bite it.  The flavour is lemony and zingy with just a little bit of nutty from the spelt flour.  I know this is not sounding like dessert, but trust me, one bite -- maybe two-- and you'll be addicted.  It's the kind of dessert that packs well and is great at finishing off a meal on the road, but if you had it at home, it would beg for blueberry sauce, ice cream or a sweet sticky glaze. 

It's delicious straight up, but added fresh berries would be an awesome treat, as would some lemon curd (I found an awesome recipe for vegan lemon curd that I'm dying to try) layered in the middle, or even dried fruits.  I had it plain the first time, and then the next, I added dried blueberries.  Totally awesome. 

Vegan Lemon Spelt Loaf
makes one small loaf
adapted from Liz Lemon Nights

juice and zest of 2 medium-sized lemons
3/4 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup of natural cane sugar
splash of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of cornstarch
1.5 cups of spelt flour

1.  In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and zest, almond milk, sugar, vanilla and canola oil and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, and cornstarch.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly, mixing gently during the process.  The mixture will be quite runny.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes or so while the oven preheats.

3.  Pour the batter into a prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until the loaf gets a lovely golden brown colour, and a cake tester inserted comes out clean. 

4.  Enjoy!  Happy picnicing!

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