“Belladonna Took’s Lovely Lemon Cake” by Astrid Tuttle Winegar
We’re going to skip over Bombur’s two requests for the moment and honor the dwarves who are asking for “more cakes—and ale—and coffee, if you don’t mind.” In my original cookbook, I envisioned this lovely lemon cake as a recipe handed down from Bilbo‘s mother, hence the name. I have pictured it with coffee below; some desserty, chocolatey ale might complement the cake, but I’m doubtful (mainly because I’m not the most avid beer connoisseur, but try it and let me know…).
Belladonna was the ninth child (of 12) of Gerontius (The Old Took) and Adamanta Chubb. She married Bungo Baggins and their only child was Bilbo. This seems to be her only claim to fame, though, in the beginning of The Hobbit, Gandalf pardons the somewhat rude Bilbo, “for your old grandfather Took’s sake, and for the sake of poor Belladonna.” Did Belladonna suffer from some unknown tragedy? Or is Gandalf merely commenting on the fact that Bilbo turned out to be so different from his apparently fun-loving, firework-enjoying relatives? Regarding his Tookish relatives, even Bilbo comments that “life used to be quite inter—(he is so obviously going to say interesting, but his fustiness prevents him).” Is she “poor Belladonna” because her son turned out to be such a stick-in-the-mud?
Oh well, children often become their parents, or they react to them by becoming their opposite, you know what I mean? But let’s assume that Bilbo’s mom was a good cook—she’s bound to have had a few delicious recipes on hand.
“Belladonna Took’s Lovely Lemon Cake”
1 giant lemon or 2 medium lemons
About ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon 1% milk
¼ cup soft salted butter
¾ cup sugar
1 extra large egg, room temperature
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon soft lemon curd
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9″ heavy aluminum cake pan with cooking spray or grease lightly. Lightly flour bottom of pan. With a fine grater or microplaner, scrape as much zest as you can from the lemon; you should end up with 1-2 tablespoons—set aside. Then squeeze the lemon and measure out about ¼ cup of juice into a 2-cup glass measure (remove any pits, of course). Add ¾ cup milk to this, or enough to measure 1 cup total. Add the zest and vanilla; whisk and set aside (it will most likely appear curdled—don’t worry). In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and egg until thoroughly combined. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 tablespoon poppy seeds. Add to butter mixture alternately with the lemon/milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients; mix well on medium speed. Spread in prepared pan and bake at 350° for 32-38 minutes, until cake tests done in the center. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge and turn out onto the rack—cool one hour.
Transfer to a serving plate and split in half horizontally. Gently spread with ½ cup lemon curd. Replace top carefully. In the same bowl you mixed the flour in (don’t bother washing it out), whisk together the 1 tablespoon lemon curd and 1 tablespoon milk, then add the powdered sugar and whisk until fully combined. Spread this evenly over the top—it’s okay for some to drizzle over the sides. Sprinkle with the ½ teaspoon poppy seeds. Cover and store at room temperature or refrigerate. Serves 6-8.
Try using orange or lime instead of lemon for variety. In Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, I have named this Esther’s Favorite Lemon Cake, in honor of my own late mother.
Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Astrid Tuttle Winegar is the author of Cooking for Halflings and Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, which is currently available in e-book form on the Amazon Kindle, but will soon be released by Oloris Publishing! Stay tuned for details. Astrid has loved C. S. Lewis since childhood, J. R. R. Tolkien since middle and high school, all Star things, both Trek and Wars, all things Whedon, and many other things besides… She lives in the enchanted city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and dog. Her blog can be found at http://halflingsandmonsters.wordpress.com/. You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/halflingsandmonsters or visit her Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/astridwinegar.