Friday, May 09, 2014

Lemon bread

lemon bread

When I first moved to New York, about once or twice a year my mom would send me a loaf of lemon bread. It was my favorite thing. The bread itself is a tender buttery loaf studded with lemon zest and pecans. It's pleasant enough but not obvious in its charms. But what takes this bread over the top (and makes you reach for slice after slice) is the tangy and sticky glaze, which sweetly shatters with each bite.

The glaze is made with sugar and lemon juice and it’s generously spread all over the loaf after it’s cooled. The bread then goes into the refrigerator for a spell, which not only allows the bread to absorb some of the juice but also hardens the glaze. Each slice of bread is then sweet and tart with the glaze lending a satisfying crunch.

While I feel like I’ve been eating this bread all my life, I don’t think that’s the case as the recipe wasn’t passed along to my mom until I was in high school. We were on our way to Baylor for a spring school visit, and we stopped at my great-aunt Mary’s house in Bryan along the way. As we sat at her kitchen table listening to stories about Aunt Mary’s lively days as a Baylor Belle, she passed around slices of the lemon bread for us to enjoy.

lemon bread

Perhaps a recipe was exchanged that day or maybe my mom asked for it soon after, but it wasn’t until after that visit that she started making the bread in our own home. The bread is very sweet, so at first it was only served on special occasions, such as Christmas morning. Then she started making it for birthdays but because our family loved it so much, before long there was almost always a loaf in the refrigerator, waiting to be sliced and enjoyed along with a cup of coffee for breakfast.

When I moved away from Texas, I collected a host of recipes and kitchen tools but I somehow didn’t get a copy of the lemon bread recipe. I told myself it was because you had to be a certain age in order to have the honor of making this very special bread—though I’m not sure if this is true or not. In hindsight, I could have just been saying this only to make the recipe more elusive and interesting in my mind. And since my mom sent me loaves often enough, there was no need to actually bake it myself as there was usually a loaf of lemon bread in my freezer, each slice carefully doled out.

A few years back my grandma gave me a binder filled with recipes and there it was—the family’s lemon bread. Because I’d lifted the bread to such mythic heights, I was a little surprised that the recipe was given to me without any fanfare. Instead, it was simply tucked into a book. But I didn’t mind, as simply seeing the recipe reminded me of watching my mom and my grandma in the kitchen baking loaf after loaf, coating them in that outrageous glaze, and then wrapping them in foil to either give as gifts or save for future breakfasts at home.

My family enjoys cooking and some of my fondest memories are of hanging out in the kitchen watching them create something for us to eat. I know I’ve said this before but it’s only because I believe it to be true—one of the finest gifts we can get from our parents and grandparents (and dear friends) are beloved family recipes. So I share this treasured lemon bread, which has brought my family much joy, with you.

lemon bread

The important thing, if I haven’t been clear enough, is the glaze. As you mix it together it will appear soupy, but don’t fret. Just place the cooked bread on a sheet of foil, which will catch any that runs off the bread as you spread the glaze onto the loaf. You’ll then wrap up the loaf, place it in the refrigerator, and as the glaze hardens, any that ended up on the foil will find its way onto the bread. You’ll want to serve this bread cool, as that way the glaze will stay crisp. While I like to eat it for breakfast, it’s also a good afternoon snack, and makes for a fine dessert, too.

If you’d like to meet in person and talk about Texas, food, recipes, and making memories at the family table, I’m going to be doing some book signings next month and I’d love to see you! Here are the dates for June (I'll be heading to North Texas in the fall). For more details about each event, please check back with my book page. See you soon!

Austin, Book People, June 10, 7pm

San Antonio, Twig, June 11, 5 to 7pm

Alpine, Front Street Books, June 13, 6pm

Houston, Blue Willow, June 16, 7pm


Lemon bread

Ingredients for the bread:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 heaping tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup pecans, chopped coarsely

Ingredients for the glaze:
6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cups granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and flour a 9x5 bread pan, lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper or wax paper.

Stir together the buttermilk and the baking soda and set it aside. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat together the eggs and slowly add to the creamed butter. Stir in the buttermilk and then slowly add the flour. Mix until a smooth batter is formed. Stir in the lemon zest and the pecans.

Pour in the batter and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes.

As the bread is cooling, mix together the lemon juice and sugar for the glaze. To apply the glaze, tear out a sheet of foil large enough to contain the loaf when wrapped. Remove the loaf from the pan by running a knife along the edges and gently tapping it out onto the sheet of foil.

Spread the glaze evenly over the top of the loaf and on the sides. Don’t worry that the glaze is runny, just be sure to contain it all when you wrap the bread with the foil.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Serve cold. It will keep refrigerated for one week and it also freezes well.

1 loaf



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Matt Robinson said...

I love lemon bread and this recipe sounds amazing, especially the glaze!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Matt--Yep, it's that glaze that gets me every time!

Aunty Pol said...

Lisa...would this also work with orange zest ?

Waving from Houston.

Aunty Pol/Jane

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Jane--While I've never tried it, I'm sure it would work with orange zest.

Clare said...

I'm making this right now!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...


Caroline @ shrinking single said...

Would this still be delicious minus the nuts? It sounds like it would give the glaze is the hero? I normally share my baking with a friend who has a son with a nut allergy and I think he would love the lemony goodness.

Kay Whitt said...

This sounds so good, I can almost taste it right now! Thanks for passing along the is on my "to bake" list!

Anonymous said...

Will make this recipe-most things are improved by adding pecans, it seems! Now in DC, but growing up in Lubbock, the county extension agent, during local TV recipe demos, always suggested doubling the amt. of pecans called for in a recipe. Wonder if she had pecan orchards?

David P.

shoreacres said...

I have a good bit of Meyer lemon juice in the freezer. I've been looking for a good lemon bread recipe for some of it, and this will do nicely. Thank you!

TexasDeb said...

I have frozen lemon juice and zest saved from our Meyer Lemon trees and cannot wait to use both in this recipe. I'm totally on board with the idea of that glaze. Heading to the store for fresh buttermilk!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Caroline--Yes, you can absolutely make it without the nuts. The glaze is the true star!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...


Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Donald--That is too funny! Though more nuts never hurt a dish.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Shoeacres--Happy to help!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

TexasDeb--There's nothing better than making a dish with something you've grown!

Clare said...

Delicious! I think this one's going to be in regular rotation for me too :-)

Devon said...

This is exactly the type of bread I like. That glaze you talk about is one of my favorite dessert components of all time.

Jessica Holmes said...

Wow I've never had lemon bread ever! This looks lovely.

Anonymous said...

Yum, love just about anything lemon. Thanks for this treasured recipe! I can't wait to make it.
Diane M.

Virginia said...

Doesn't the lemon react with the foil? I have had problems with foil reacting with an acidic food before. The recipe reminds me of one we made at Christmas time. I am excited to try it!

Stacey said...

Thank you for sharing something that is such a special part of your family's food history! I have family coming into town for a wedding this weekend, and this is perfect to make for all of the people that I love. Also, see you at the Twig! Can't wait.

ami@naivecookcooks said...

I just made lemon bars like thrice in a week!! This bread is next on my list! I can't get enough of lemon this summer!

Julie @ Texan New Yorker said...

I'm drooling just imagining that glaze... And, sic 'em!!! :) said...

I love family recipes, passed down through generations. Sometimes the simpler the better. This one looks delish, especially that glaze!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Clare--I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine has!

Devon--It is indeed good stuff!

Jessica--Well now is the time to try it!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Diane--You're welcome. I hope you enjoy it!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Virginia--We've never had a reaction in all the years we've been making it, but if you're concerned you could first wrap the bread in wax or parchment paper before wrapping it in foil.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Stacey--I look forward to seeing you!

Ami--Lemon is one of my favorite flavors--it's so bright!

Julie--It's definitely drool worthy!

Myfoododyssey---Family recipes are the best!

Shelley said...

Is there any other yellow like that yellow?

Dan said...

Tried it with orange zest and juice for the glaze. The cake was gone in 10 minutes with all favourable reviews. Also made one with apple and it went well also. Thanks!

Caroline {TheBarbeeHousewife} said...

This lemon cake looks delicious!

purplerangerfood said...

One suggestion -- Key Lime Bread.

SallyBR said...

Hello there! Just wanted to say I made this loaf yesterday and today my department is overjoyed! I made one small modification, using pistachios instead of walnuts (one of our grad students asked me for something with pistachios, as it's his favorite nut)...

anyway, absolutely delicious, I will blog about it sometime next month and will let you know, of course will give you full credit!

delicious recipe!

Anonymous said...

I posted a few weeks ago & my post never appeared, so I'll try again. As I mentioned the first time, I think I was "glazed" over by this recipe. By that, I mean I was so focused on that word that when preparing the glaze and not thinking, I used powdered sugar instead of granulated. My "version" of glaze soaked into the bread, but the essence of lemon was not lost. The lemon flavor of this bread is wonderful. I'll be trying it again very soon with the correct sugar when my brain is not "glazed" over (grin). Judy H

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