Let’s get seasonal!

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Tis the season! As always, it feels like it’s sneaking up on me.

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But I do love the excuse to get very seasonal with my baking – the colors of winter fruit are so pretty!

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Pomegranate arils always look like piles of rubies to me – the light shines through them so beautifully, like it does through stained glass windows.

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This cake is the best excuse of cake for breakfast I’ve made recently – lightly sweet, lemony and delicious. It’s gluten free and refined sugar free, too!

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Incidentally, it’s also high in protein from the almond flour and the ricotta – added bonus, if that’s your thing. We enjoyed it two ways: it’s perfect for dessert with a bit of vanilla ice cream, and excellent for breakfast alongside eggs & kale (see exhibit a).

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This cake also includes beaten egg whites – this is one of my favorite examples of baking alchemy: I love watching the egg whites go from straight liquid to soft, foamy whirls. I never get tired of it!

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On that note, I’ll keep it short and sweet today. I do hope you’re enjoying the holiday season with loved ones! Might I suggest feeding them cake? Everyone wins!

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Lemon Ricotta Cake with Pomegranate Arils

Lightly sweet, perfectly lemony-almondy – dense but not overwhelming. Gluten free and refined sugar free. Not dairy free, but I’m thinking that either non-dairy butter or coconut oil would work for a sub, and I know they make non-dairy ricotta from almond milk. So! We have options. This version does away with the glutens but obviously contains dairy. Serve wedges with a bit of ice cream for dessert, or alongside breakfast. Yield: 1 8″ or 9″ cake, depending on the pan you use (see recipe). Recipe adapted from Foolproof Living, here.

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Let’s make cake!

7 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c maple syrup, divided
zest of 4 lemons
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1.25 c (5 oz) almond flour
1 c (4 1/2 ounces) fine polenta
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds, optional for garnish
pomegranate arils – I used one full pomegranate

Preheat the oven to 325, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 9″ cake pan, well greased and lined with parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily (see photo for reference).

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Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) , beat butter, half the maple, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and beat until combined, another minute-ish. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, and sea salt. Add the dry ingredients into the larger bowl, add ricotta, and stir to combine.

In a separate, non-reactive bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (preferably with your hand mixer or stand mixer so that your arm doesn’t fall off) – drizzle in the rest of the maple while mixing.

Fold the egg whites into the batter in two batches. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and top with almonds, if using. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving; also delicious cold if you want to stick it in the fridge for an hour or two.

Garnish with pomegranate arils before serving! Excellent with a bit of vanilla ice cream (really, what isn’t) for dessert or eat it alongside eggs for breakfast. Keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge or stored in an airtight glass container.

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If life hands you lemons, you should obviously make lemon bars

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LEMON BARS!

With MEYER LEMONS!!

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Life doesn’t get much better than that.

Especially since we had a random little heat wave in the middle of last week. And of course, it hit Thursday and I immediately wanted cookies because apparently Thursday=cookies. But seeing as it was waaaayyy too hot for any normal person to want to even consider turning on the oven, I wisely opted for no bake, raw lemon bars. Because they took about thirty seconds to throw together and then all I had to do was shove them in the fridge for chill time until I ate them. Lazy lazy and very nearly instant cookie gratification. Wheee!!!

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Also, I love lemon desserts but I’m wildly picky. For instance, I find most lemon loaf cakes to be waaaayy too sweet—almost cloying and definitely icky. I love lemon scones and lemon curd—both of those are usually a good balance of not too sweet and just sweet enough. These bars totally fall into that category too—they’re not overly tart, but neither are they stupid-sweet.

Besides all that, they also happen to be raw, vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free! Sooo…. breakfast, anyone??

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And really. Anything with Meyer lemons: sign me up. They are SO much more exciting than a regular lemon (although these bars would also be delicious with regular lemons, I’m sure). Lemons=spring! Perfect springy dessert/breakfast/feelgoodtreat/younameit/please eat it.

That being said, these take pretty much five minutes to make so you have nooooo excuses. Lemon bars!! With nearly instant gratification!! YAY! Do it.

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Raw Meyer Lemon-Coconut Bars

Recipe lightly adapted from Pure Ella, here! Raw, vegan, no bake, gluten free, and refined sugar free. They’re full of healthy fats and whole grains… AND they’re delicious. Recipe makes about 9 squares—I did mine in an 8 by 8 pan, but I think next time I’ll use something smaller so there’s a  better crust to icing ratio.

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For the crust:

  • 1/3 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c raw buckwheat groats
  • scant 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 c dates, pitted (and soaked if they’re hard)
  • 3/4 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • fresh zest of one meyer lemon

For the icing:

  • 1/4 c unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • fresh juice of 1/2 a meyer lemon

Line your preferred pan with a parchment paper and set aside.

In a food processor, whiz together almond flour, oats, buckwheat, salt, dates, coconut, maple, and lemon zest until thoroughly mixed and blended (you’ll need to scrape the sides a bit). Upend the processor over your prepared pan, and pat the crust down with your hands until it’s evenly distributed.

In a microwave-safe bowl (or on the stove), melt coconut oil and maple syrup together. Once everything is fully melted, stir in coconut oil and stir until that melts as well. Set aside until this cools off a little, then stir in the lemon juice. Pour all this goodness over your prepared crust, and carefully transfer to the fridge to chill for at least an hour before cutting and serving. Keep it stored in the refrigerator, assuming there’s any left to store…

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