It’s a quick stride from the kitchen door and an easy scramble over the aging side fence into our neighbour’s backyard to collect an apron or shirt-full of fresh lemons. An errand that appeals and is never met with a long sigh from the nominated individual that a requested visit to the washing line or rubbish bins would generally elicit. This welcome task usually includes a friendly greeting from the resident terrier and a chance to observe first-hand, territory normally restricted to retrieving over zealously kicked balls or delivery of messages. The object of the assignment, a rangy old lemon tree (similar vintage to its owners), provides an abundance of lemons, far more than the senior couple who planted it or their fortunate neighbours could ever consume in a season.
With no end to the uses of lemons in our kitchen, visits to this tree are regular. The lemons that arrive home are not the waxy, uniformly shaped specimens that are available year round in our local supermarket, but rather ones that are pitted, marked and are regularly accompanied by a partial branch (depending on the harvester’s age) and some bird ‘matter’. However, following a quick scrub, they zest and grate like billy-o, and juice like the Watsons (whoever they may be).
Crisp, sunny Melbourne winter days, are well paired with tangy lemon loaves and hot coffee. Should you spy a laden citrus in your district, use this as an opportunity to pay a visit and make your introductions. In my experience, lemon tree owners are generous folk who are always looking for homes for their crops. Make it your business to bake two of these Lemon and Walnut loaves and return one to the citrus producer. A sure guarantee of friendship – and lemons for life.
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
125g butter, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
grated rind of a lemon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease and line a loaf tin.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bow.
Rub in the butter.
Combine the eggs and milk and stir them into the flour mixture.
Fold in the lemon rind and walnuts.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
Ice with and icing sugar and lemon juice mix.
This really is a loaf rather than a fine cake, so is best served and eaten on the day.
Postscript: and if you have never smelt a citrus blossom or broken a leaf and inhaled, I suggest you do so at your next opportunity.