You guys! I’m so excited to be bringing back Literary Nibbles – but this time we’re calling it Read // Eat. If you haven’t been reading Yes and Yes for ages, this is a monthly post series in which we cook/bake/stuff our faces with recipes from our favorite books. But since I’m not much of a cook, I’ve enlisted the help of Alicia! Alicia writes Jaybird (and formerly of Humble Foodie). When she’s not making a mess in the kitchen, she tries her hand at home DIY projects and elaborate picnics. Go be friends! Twitter / Facebook
This summer everyone’s talking about The Great Gatsby
. Baz Luhrmann has turned Fitzgerald’s captivating novel into a visually stunning film—all vibrant colors, decadent parties, and dazzling conversation.
If you went to high school in the States, chances are you read The Great Gatsby, which is full of timeless truths and poignant observations about the human condition—none of which I appreciated fully in 9th grade.
But you know what I’ve always appreciated? Food! And thankfully, Fitzgerald serves up moments both tense and tender with a side of stunning 1920s refreshments. From awkward lunches at Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s to modest tea at Nick’s, some of the novel’s most important revelations occur over a bite.
When Nick hosts a tea to reunite Daisy and Gatsby, he relies on the delicatessen to provide a dozen lemon cakes. No wonder he and Gatsby scrutinize them while waiting for Daisy to come over. Homemade lemon cake is a tart and buttery treat that absolutely must be shared. Steep some sun tea and take a page out of Gatsby’s book by inviting friends over for a small gathering.
Gatsby on his house: “I keep it always full of interesting people, night and day. People who do interesting things. Celebrated people.”
Celebrated people love lemon cake.
Lemon Cake from The Great Gatsby
Note: For this recipe, make sure to set out your butter, eggs, and yogurt in advance so they can come to room temperature. I also suggest zesting and juicing the lemons before beginning.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (from 6-8 lemons)
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
¾ cup plain, 0% fat Greek yogurt, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 8 ½ inch loaf pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, or in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter and two cups granulated sugar. With the mixer on medium speed, add eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest. This will become your batter.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Whisk (a shortcut for sifting). In another bowl, whisk together ¼ cup lemon juice, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the flour and lemon juice mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Use the back of a spoon to smooth the tops, then bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
While the cakes bake, combine ½ cup granulated sugar with ½ cup lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook until sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack set over a sheet pan. Slowly spoon the syrup over the cakes and give it time to soak in. Allow the cakes to cool completely before slicing and serving.
Optional: to make the glaze, combine the combine the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth and drizzle over the tops of cakes.
This cake is lemony through and through: the middle has a light and sweet citrus flavor, while the browned crust and moist top benefit from the strong addition of lemon zest. The glaze is optional, but if you skip the syrup, you’ll pout like Tom Buchanan when Gatsby introduces him as “the polo player”. Trust me on this one.
Does your favorite book include a dish you can’t wait to try? Let us know, and maybe it’ll become the next Read // Eat recipe!
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