Maybe it’s the bright color. Maybe it’s the fresh, vibrant taste. Whatever the reason, Easter has become inextricably linked to lemon (and chocolate, of course). So we decided to do a refresh of the conventional breakfast cinnamon bun, infusing it with lemony goodness three different ways.
We start by replacing the cinnamon sugar with sugar spiked with lemon zest. Then we fill the buns with purchased lemon curd. Finally, we drizzle our finished buns with icing made from lemon juice and powdered sugar.
The result is vibrantly lemony, but not mouth-puckering. And to keep things fast and easy, we use purchased frozen bread dough as the base for the buns. All you need to do is thaw the dough, roll it out, fill it, then roll it back up before slicing and baking. These buns are the perfect way to start Easter – or any spring – morning.
Another variation on citrus and Easter are dairy-free mini cakes that are rich with olive oil and lemon juice – in fact, 1 cup of each.
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The tender cakes – which deliver a delicious punch of lemon – also are covered with strawberry jam, then with a layer of toasted and chopped pecans. Delicious, fresh and simple.
But these cakes also are versatile. If pecans aren’t your thing, coat the cakes in flaked coconut or chopped pistachios. If strawberry jam doesn’t do it for you, any variety of jam can be substituted. And any other citrus juice can be substituted.
Finally, there’s tembleque.
Associated Press food editor J.M. Hirsch stumbled upon this Hispanic pudding that was something entirely different.
Tembleque is a non-dairy Puerto Rican pudding made from coconut milk and cornstarch. It is sweet without being cloying, and thick without being chewy. The clean yet rich flavors of this orange-infused pudding makes it a perfect finish to an Easter dinner.
Sticky lemony breakfast buns
Start to finish: 11/2 hours (30 minutes active)
You’ll find loaves of frozen bread dough in the grocer’s freezer section. Jars of lemon curd are alongside the jams and jellies.
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Two 1-pound loaves frozen white bread dough, thawed and allowed to come to room temperature
1/2 cup lemon curd
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and lemon zest. Sprinkle half of it on a clean counter or large cutting board.
Place 1 loaf of the dough on the sprinkled counter, then roll it out to form an 8-by-16-inch rectangle (with one of the long sides facing you). Sprinkle the dough with the remaining sugar, then gently run the roller over the dough to ensure the sugar mixture sticks. Roll out the second loaf to the same size, then set it on top of the first.
Spread the lemon curd over the dough, leaving a 1-inch strip bare along the long edge farther from you. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll the dough up into a log. Pinch the dough along the seam to seal it.
Using a sharp knife, slice the roll into 1-inch-wide rounds. Arrange the rounds on the prepared baking sheet, then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until puffy. After 15 minutes, heat the oven to 350 F.
When the buns have risen, uncover and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. The internal temperature of the buns should read 185 degrees F. Allow to cool slightly before icing.
To make the icing, in a small bowl whisk together lemon juice and powdered sugar. Drizzle over the tops of the buns. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Per serving: 250 calories; 50 calories from fat (20% of total); 6 g fat (1.5 g sat.; 0 g trans); 25 mg chol.; 44 g carb.; 2 g fiber; 17 g sugar; 7 g protein; 370 mg sodium.
Lemon olive oil mini cakes with pecans and strawberries
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (45 minutes active)
2 cup sugar
1 cup olive oil
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
One 9 1/2-ounce jar strawberry jam
1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
Fresh strawberries, to garnish
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, then line it with kitchen parchment.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs on high for 2 minutes.
While the eggs and sugar beat, in a measuring cup combine the olive oil and lemon juice. Into a small bowl, sift together the salt, baking powder and flour.
Add half of the oil-juice mixture to the eggs, then half the flour mixture, beating just to combine. Repeat with the remaining oil-juice and flour mixtures. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix one more time. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool in the pan.
Using a food processor, puree the strawberry jam until smooth.
When ready to assemble, use a 21/2-inch round cutter to cut 20 discs from the cake. Use care to hold the cutter straight so that your cake rounds have straight sides.
To assemble each mini cake, spread a small amount of the strawberry jam on 1 round of cake. Sandwich a second cake on top. Spread a thin layer of strawberry jam over the sides and top of the cake, then carefully roll the entire thing in the pecans. Garnish the top with a fresh strawberry. Repeat with remaining rounds to assemble a total of 10 mini cakes.
Per serving: 580 calories; 300 calories from fat (52 % of total calories); 33 g fat (4.5 g sat., 0 g trans); 70 mg chol.; 69 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 40 g sugar; 7 g protein; 270 mg sodium.
Orange-cinnamon coconut pudding (tembleque)
Start to finish: 2 hours 20 minutes (20 minutes active)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 cup cornstarch
Two 13 1/2-ounce cans coconut milk
Zest of 1 medium orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon
In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch. Whisk in the coconut milk, orange zest and salt, then set over medium-high heat. Whisk until simmering and thickened. Pour the pudding into a 9-by-9-inch baking dish or individual ramekins.
In a small bowl or cup, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the pudding, then cover and refrigerate until set and completely chilled, about 2 hours.
Per serving: 340 calories; 250 calories from fat (74 percent of total calories); 27 g fat (24 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 15 g sugar; 3 g protein; 40 mg sodium.