Lemons are incredible things. Antibacterial, delicious tasting, flavour enhancing, great for your skin, the pros of using lemons are pretty much never ending. I want to talk about 2 uses for lemons I've started encorporating into my baking routine, which, I am happy to say, is becoming more bi-weekly than bi-annual.
1) Sour milk/buttermilk
The bread recipes I'm using call for 200ml of buttermilk. Since buttermilk is sold by the litre and is more expensive than normal milk, it makes no sense to splurge and leave the remaining 800ml unused. I've also had an issue every few weeks here in Denmark where my milk goes 'off' i.e. lumps, curdles and is not nice to put in tea etc. long before the use-by date. I don't know why that is, but I'm guessing either because of how things are stored in the supermarkets or the process of homogenisation here being different to Ireland/UK.
So what I do in a recipe that calls for butter milk is measure out the milk, and then squeeze some lemon juice in. I don't have a fixed quantity, I just give a generous squeeze. You should be able to tell if the process is occurring, because the milk will change consistence, to something lumpy , cloudy and occasionally bubbly. I do this at the beginning of the baking process and leave it to sit for around half an hour to ensure it is nicely curdled.
For those of you worried about the health consequences of souring milk, milk goes through a long process before it is no longer 'safe' for consumption (and you'll know it if the milk is so far gone, trust me, the taste and smell will tell you). Soured milk is great for your gut health, and my friend's dad sours bottles of the stuff for himself and drinks it every morning. That's a bit too much for me, the fizzy taste is not pleasant for me, but hey, looking after your gut is important!
2) Lemon sugar
This one's simply for the delicious factor. When baking with sugar, and where you feel the recipe will allow for it, it's always a great idea to add the zest of a lemon (or half a lemon, or however strong you want it to taste, less is usually more) to the caster sugar, give it a generous stir, and leave it to sit for a few minutes so the sugar puffs out and is infused with lemony goodness. Adds a zesty undertone to many's a tasty treat!