What's More Fun Than Saying Lemonquat?

lemonquatecakewholeIs there another name as fun to say as "kumquat"? Yes. Lemonquat, limequat, and orangequat (also called mandarinquat). I didn't make these up; they are citrus hybrids -- part kumquat and part lemon, lime, or orange, respectively.

A soft-spoken, affable farmer named George T. Schnurer, who owns and operates Betty B's Ranch in Ramona, California, sells a wide variety of cheerful citrus, including orangequats, lemonquats, and di rigeur Meyer lemons.

Though the juicy sweet-tart orangequats have a robust orange flavor that I love, I am positively smitten with the lemonquats. You might expect given their name that lemonquats are overly sour or acidic. They aren't. Like lemon drops, they're rather sweet with hints of tartness.

Lemonquats like kumquats are entirely edible. Though wonderful raw, they're simply amazing in baked goods. Despite their playful name and unique flavor, there aren't too many recipes for lemonquats, that is, except for hard drinks. Since this is G- rated blog, I figured I'd do something more wholesome, like cake.

lemonquatorangequatbowlSo I consulted the ultimate baking cookbook: Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. I used Dorie's basic Coconut Tea Cake, then flavored it with lemonquats (rind and pulp included), and drizzled it with a simple lemon icing, toasted coconut, and sliced lemonquats.

It was truly one of the most scrumptious cakes I've ever eaten. Biting into the slightly crunchy, sweet icing gave way to a fabulously moist, dense cake speckled with tiny bits of explosively flavored lemonquats. It's ideal for brunch or an afternoon snack since it's not overly sweet. Rest assured, however, the flavor will leave you sighing with contentment.

If you can't find lemonquats (they're grown primarily in California and have a heartbreakingly short season), then try Melissas.com which sells all types of produce online. Otherwise, I would suggest substituting Meyer lemons or regular lemons with a bit more sugar since they're not as sweet.

Coconut Lemonquat Tea Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup canned unsweetened lite coconut milk, stirred well (or regular coc. milk)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 de-seeded lemonquats, with the rind, minced until pulpy, (about 1/4 cup), plus 1 tablespoon of lemonquat juice**
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted

Icing and garnish:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
a few droplets of milk

1/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, toasted
2-3 lemonquats, thinly sliced and de-seeded

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter or coat with cooking spray a 9-10-inch Kugelhopf or Bundt pan. Dorie advises to not place the pan on a baking sheet, since you want the oven's heat to circulate through the inner tube.

To toast the coconut, place in a dry skillet over medium heat, and gently stir until aromatic and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Keep your eye on it since it burns quite quickly!

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan, add the butter, and heat until the milk is hot and the butter is melted. Remove from the heat but keep warm.

Working with a hand mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, in a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar, and minced lemonquats with juice at medium-high speed until pale, thick and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and stopping just when the flour dissolves.

Keeping the mixer on low, add 1 cup of coconut, mixing only until blended, then slowly add the hot milk and butter. When the mixture is smooth, stop mixing, and stir it a couple of times with a rubber spatula to be sure it's throughly mixed. Pour the batter into the pan and gently shake it to even the batter.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool at room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the icing in a small bowl by whisking together 1 cup confectioners' sugar and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Add a few droplets of milk and continue whisking until the icing is smooth and thin yet clings to the back of a spoon. When it's ready, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any tiny clumps of confectioners' sugar (thanks, Mom!).

Unmold the cake, and place on a rack. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing in a back-and-forth pattern on the slightly warm cake. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of toasted coconut, and garnish with sliced lemonquats. Allow to set for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

**If you are unable to find lemonquats, then I suggest using sweet and tangy Meyer lemons or regular lemons sweetened with a little bit of sugar. I would mince 1/4 cup's worth of lemon pulp, the zest of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon juice, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Of course, you can make it sweeter if you like.