Monday, January 2, 2012

Detox January (and a lemon poundcake recipe)

Lemon pound cake (really, it's light!)
Happy New Year! But, more importantly, Happy Detox January!

Regular readers will remember that each year Mr. Ninj and I celebrate (perhaps not quite the right word choice) a little something we call Detox January.

We started doing this a few years ago, as a break from the overindulgence of the holidays and to get the new year off to a good start -- and, quite frankly, to try to drop a few of those excess holiday pounds before we head off on our February vacation, which involves putting on a swimsuit.

Detox January is not some overly ambitious resolution that you know you won't be able to keep (new gym membership, anyone?); it's more like a short-term, mini resolution that you know you can achieve.

The rules are simple. For the entire month of January:
  • Abstain from all alcohol (but if a recipe calls for a little bit, that's OK) 
  • Eat a bit healthier every day (I don't expect you to get crazy here -- we just try to eat more veggies than cookies and keep our recipes more Cooking Light than Julia Child) 
  • Exercise more than you did in December 

See? You can totally do this!

And, to ease you into it and prove to you that it's not some kind of wacky-ass cleanse that forces you to eat only bland, nasty food, here's a lovely recipe for a light pound cake.

Yes, Detox January encourages cake. So why not join us?

Lemon Pound Cake (slightly adapted from a recipe by Lori Longbotham via Eating Well magazine)

Note: Unless you are lucky enough to have access to sweeter Meyer lemons, Mr. Ninj and I found the candied lemon slices to be a little too bitter to eat with the cake and wound up picking them off. But they do look beautiful for the presentation.

1 cup pastry flour
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 lemons
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 egg whites (do not combine, as they must be added one at a time), at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Whisk together the first four ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Finely grate 2 tablespoons zest from two of the lemons. In a stand mixer, beat 3/4 cup sugar, cream cheese, butter and zest on medium speed until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the egg whites, ONE AT A TIME, then add the egg and beat well. Reduce speed and beat in the milk.

Add the flour mixture in two batches, beating just until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and place on the rack.

While the cake is cooling, slice the remaining lemon into thin slices and squeeze five tablespoons juice from the 2 zested lemons. Heat the juice and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a pan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the lemon slices and cook (keep stirring) about 5 minutes, or until softened. Remove the lemon slices, and reduce heat; simmer the syrup for another 2-4 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Set the cake on the rack over a rimmed baking sheet or something else to catch syrup runoff. Poke holes all over the top of the warm cake with a toothpick or skewer. Spoon the glaze all over the cake (it will run into the holes) and arrange the candied lemon slices on top. Cool completely before slicing.

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