On occasion, I have been known to magnanimously do some volunteer pruning, when so inspired - pine branches from a forested area in Jordan for Christmas swags which included a volunteer roving-eyed lizard (doesn't everyone have a Christmas lizard?), rose petals from a ridiculously abundant blooming rose bush next door for the garnish for a 1920's recipe of Chicken a la Rose, and lemons from a lemon tree branch dangling precariously low over a public sidewalk in Israel - someone could have been injured! (and besides, I was out of lemons). My noble and selfless efforts are only employed that vegetation might thrive. May the lemon be among them - Live on, oh mighty Lemon! Live long lemons, and prosper! A child's expression the first time they taste them, makes you wonder which ancient Asian child kept tasting them until they discovered this puckery fruit was just waiting to meet sugar to zing into the forefront of culinary taste! The luxurious smell of the blossoms in spring, would make you think that the fruit is as sweet as promised, but the result packs a walloping tart and sour surprise but is yet a dose of the Renaissance itself to flavor and color, little orbs of the sun that give vibrant life to foods that would otherwise be drab as a winter's day without them. And shaped like those little orbs are a candy we call Lemon Drops, created in Britain in the1800's, though they may be harder to find today than Lemon Heads but they pack a punch to this exquisite bread and say, "Pucker up"! (Available at Walgreen's) A delicious variation is the suggested version with blueberries, or bluebs as my family calls them. Due due to their tendency to sink to the bottom of the batter as they bake - Blue Bottom Lemon Bread it became!
1/4 cup soft butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
grated rind of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
8 - 10 crushed lemon drops
-In large mixing bowl, cream together shortening, butter and sugar for about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in milk. Add flour, salt, baking powder, and grated lemon rind. Mix until just combined.
-Grease or spray with non-stick spray, a regular sized loaf pan. Pour batter in pan. Bake at 300 degrees until a knife inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean, about 1 hour.
-Meanwhile, mix lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar and crushed lemon drops in a small bowl. Set aside.
-Remove the bread from the oven and allow to sit 5 minutes in pan. Score the bread with a serrated knife to a depth of about 1 inch in 3 lengthwise cuts. Forcing the slits slightly apart drizzle the glaze into the slits and over the top of the warm bread. Let cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. Then run a knife around the edges and gently remove from the pan. Let cool completely before slicing. Cut into slices and serve. Makes 8 - 10 slices.
**Coarsely mash the lemon drops in a mortar and pestle or place in a plastic bag and mash with a rolling pan or the bottom of a heavy saucepan.
**Grate lemon with a microplane, one of my "can't do without" kitchen implements, a long thin micro-grater that allows you to grate right over whatever it is going into, easily held by a long handle.
**A combo of butter with shortening creates a softer bread than using just butter alone (similar to what the less popular margarine produces.)
**I sometimes make half again as much glaze when I want the bread very moist and popping with lemon flavor.
**When making the Blue Bottom Lemon-Drop Bread, mix the batter as directed above, pour into the prepared loaf pan and then scatter 3/4 cup fresh blueberries on the top of the batter, patting down gently with a spatula. Bake and glaze as directed.
Let cool completely before slicing or it will crumble apart.