If asked to choose the single most important ingredient in my kitchen, I would choose the lemon, first and foremost for the peel and secondly for its juice. The lemon is refreshing. On the island of Sicily the lemon is quite large and looks like a bumpy grapefruit. The Sicilian lemon is to be found on street markets throughout southern Italy. This citrus fruit is an integral part of Italian baking, and thus the lemon and its peel are a cupboard essential.
I discovered the method of infusing flour with lemon zest by chance. While planning ahead during a busy cooking schedule, I decided one day to put my freshly grated lemon peel into a jar filled with wheat flour. Hoping to infuse flavors slightly and to win time for the next day, I was surprised to discover in the morning that lemon peel had dried in the flour. I also found that the perfume of the lemon had permeated the entire jar. After sifting the flour to remove the dried lemon curls, I baked a cake topped with pine nuts. The result was subtle yet distinct. Since the success of my experiment, I keep a jar of lemon-scented flour in my cupboard.
Although you may not bake at home on a daily or even weekly basis, lemon-scented flour is perfect for pancakes, shortcrust pastry and even for pasta.
- 1000 grams of unbleached organic wheat flour
- the peel of four lemons
Scrub the lemons with a brush under cold running water. Grate the peel of the lemons with a zester catching the thin lemon curls into a small bowl. Stir the lemon zest through the unbleached flour and put into a jar, closing the lid tightly. Shake the jar every once in a while to make sure the lemon peel is evenly distributed through the flour. Save the flour until needed for at least two months, or longer depending upon the climate you live in.. When ready for use, put the flour through a sieve to catch the dried lemon, returning them once again to the flour-filled jar.
♦ Suggested combinations
Lemon-scented flour is perfect for the baking of traditional almond cantuccini. I like to use this flour to bake a simple cake made with butter, sugar and vanilla, for lemon shortbread and for chocolate espresso cake. It is also the basis for my shortcrust pastry.
The longer the flour is infused with lemon, the stronger its flavor becomes. The lemon peel simply dries slowly in the flour.
When the bergamot arrives in the beginning of January, make bergamot scented flour in the same fashion.