Yes, you heard right, our new article is going to be sour! Ok, and a bit sweet, how else could it be… So, in our new, kind of sour article we will learn about lemon, lime and yuzu, their history, nutrients and uses, we will look for the desserts they go with and make a light lemon-lime mousse with nougatine crisp and berry meringues.
Do you know who adores lemon and therefore never gets sick? Rupert! Actually, one of his favourite habits is drinking lemon tea at the balcony…
Being pastry nerds, since we would make a lemon dessert, we had to take a scientific approach. So, we turned to the book Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking Foundations (2011) by the chefs of the great pastry school Le Cordon Bleu and learned that lemon is a citrus fruit that appeared first in India, Northern Burma (Myanmar) and China. In 700 AD it arrived to Persia, Iraq and Egypt, while the first written reference to lemon dates back to the 10th century.
Lemon arrived in Europe via Italy, but it was not widely cultivated until the 15th century, in Genova. Quite recently actually! Around the same time, Christopher Columbus brought lemon tree seeds to America. However, only since the 18th century lemons would be used for decorative and pharmaceutical reasons there. The name lemon comes from the Arabic word limun and the old Italian and French name limone.
Lemon goes with beverages, soft drinks, alcohol drinks, teas and herbal infusions -such as Rupert’s lemon tea at the balcony. Cold lemonade is a classic summer drink in Greece and many other countries worldwide.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.British proverb that encourages optimism
Lemon has an important place in world gastronomy. In Greece we have traditional dishes with lemon sauce and recipes with an egg-lemon sauce, called avgolemono (avgo means egg and lemoni means lemon). Lemon chicken is a characteristic dish in many cuisines worldwide. Also, if you squeeze some lemon juice on fruit that turn brown easily, such as bananas and apples, it will preserve them and make their lively colour last longer.
Lemon has also non-culinary uses, as a desinfectant and natural cleaning product. Also it helps us get rid of fats.
But most of all, lemon is miraculous for our health. As we read, both lemons and limes -which we will discuss later- are low in carbs and calories. They contain an important amount of vitamin C, other vitamins and minerals (potassium, folic acid vitamin B6), lemon having a little bit more than lime. Thanks to vitamin C lemons and limes have important antioxidant activity and play an important role in the health of the immune system. They also contain herbal compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
We also learned that it has been proven that lemon is beneficial to heart’s health, weight control, kidney stones’ prevention, protection against anemia by helping the absorption of iron, reducing cancer risk and the health of the digestive system. Limes have similar benefits to our health.
Speaking of limes, in the book Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking Foundations we read that lime –moscholemono in Greek- is the smallest fruit of the citrus family. Limes are picked while they are still unripe and thus comes their characteristic green colour. If we let them on the trees they will get orange when ripe. Limes are very sour, as they contain one and a half times more acid than lemons by weight.
The most common varieties are Mexican limes, Key limes, from which Key lime pie gets its name and Tahiti limes (or Persian limes or Bearss limes), which are considered hybrids. Key limes first appeared in Southeast Asia, then spread to Middle East, North Africa and later to Sicily and Andalusia. Spanish explorers brought limes to West India and Florida Keys archipelago in America, from which they took their name.
Because of their high acidity, limes are a favourite ingredient in drinks and cocktails -they are the main ingredient in the famous Mojito Cuban cocktail. Usually they are not consumed raw, but are widely used in cooking, especially in Asian cuisine, as well as in pastry in the way lemons are used. Limes can also be used in cleaning like lemons too.
Τhe last member of our sour gang is yuzu, a fruit that has become more and more popular in Greece in recent years, used in “exotic” dishes and in pastry too. Yuzu is a citrus fruit, a hybrid of lemon, lime and grapefruit. As we learned, it first appeared in China, over one thousand years ago. It is now cultivated in Japan and Korea too, and in other parts of the world too. Yuzu is more sour and fragrant than the other citrus fruits.
Yuzu’s juice, zest and seeds predominate in South Asian cuisine, in vinegars, sauces and jams. In Japanese cuisine yuzu is added to pastes, powders, jams, jellies and teas. Just like lime, yuzu can be used in cocktails. In recent years chefs worldwide are experimenting with its use in cooking and baking. Yuzu is also used in beauty and anti-aging products and perfumes.
As for their nutritional value, we foundhttps://eatdessertfirstgreece.com/2020/02/26/lemon-lime-yuzu-eng/ that yuzu is low in calories, has more vitamin C than lemon and orange, and a high antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. It can benefit the immune system and blood circulation, has anti-cancer qualities and can help in treating respiratory infections. It can also improve skin’s health.
But, what we wish for most of all is learning about the desserts in which we can use all that! Of course, there are infinite options, as long as we use our imagination and creativity. To give a small push, we chose some characteristic and delicious lemon, lime and yuzu desserts, from which we can borrow specific elements or use them as a base for our sweet creations.
Tarte au citron / lemon tart: an elegant French tart with a sweet tart dough base (pâte sucrée or pâte sablée) and a lemon custard filling made with egg yolks (lemon curd). When topped with meringue it is called tarte au citron meringuée.
Lemon pie: a classic American dessert with a crumbly, buttery tart dough base (shortbread crust), a lemon custard filling (lemon curd) and a topping of baked, fluffy meringue.
Key lime pie: a classic American tart with a base made of crumbled Graham crackers with butter, a filling prepared with yolks, condensed milk and Key limes juice, and a whipped cream or meringue topping.
Lemon cake: of unknown origin, possibly from the British pound cake born in the 18th century. A fragrant cake made with lemon zest or juice or both (source).
Key lime poke cake: a simple cake with holes filled with a sweet and sour filling made with lime juice and zest. Garnished with whipped cream.
Key lime cheesecake: a sour and creamy no-bake cheesecake with a biscuit and butter base and a cream cheese filling flavoured with lime juice and zest.
Lemon delicious pudding (or lemon surprise pudding): a traditional dessert from Australia and New Zealand, a pudding that gets separated in the baking process to create two layers, a liquid lemon sauce layer and a cake-like top layer.
Coconut-lime squares: bars with sweet biscuit base (shortbread) made with coconut flakes and a lime juice and zest filling.
Traditional Greek lemon pie: a moist cake made with oil or butter and yoghurt, flavored with lemon zest and moistened with lemon syrup.
Traditional Greek lemon spoon sweet: a traditional spoon sweet made with debittered lemon peel. It goes great with yoghurt, ice cream and whatever else you like!
Yuzu mochi: a traditional sweet and sour Japanese confection made with yuzu peel, daring back to the 19th century.
Yuzu daifuku: a Japanese dessert with an outside layer of rice cake containing a sweet bean paste with candied yuzu peel.
In all those desserts, lemon, lime and yuzu can substitute one for the other, or be used together for extra flavor layers. Contemporary pastry uses them more and more, in intricate ways and original combinations.
Eat Dessert First Greece made its combinations too, under the strict supervision of Rupert, a citrus connoisseur: lemon, lime, caramel, walnuts, meringue and berries… A refreshing, light, sweet and sour dessert, a perfect closure to a rich dinner. And a great little treat too!
Lemon-lime mousse with nougatine crisp and berry meringues
Ingredients for the lemon-lime mousse
|Lemon juice||from 1 lemon|
|Lime juice||from 1/2 lime|
|Lime zest||from 1/2 lime|
|Gelatine (powder)||1 level tsp (5 gr)|
|Yoghurt (full-fat)||240 ml|
|Heavy cream||200 ml|
|Powdered sugar||50 gr|
How to make the lemon-lime mousse
Start by putting a tablespoon of water in a small bowl and sprinkling the gelatine powder on top. Place the yoghurt (we used Greek sheep yoghurt) in a bowl and beat it for a minute with a mixer to liquidise (unless it is already quite liquid). Place the heavy cream with the sugar in the mixer bowl and whip until soft peaks form. We don’t want to fully whip the cream so that it has room for mixing with the rest of the mixture. Keep the yoghurt and whipped cream at room temperature.
Now, make a pâte à bombe, a mousse base: Place the egg yolks with the lemon and lime juices in a metal bowl (not plastic as we will use it in a bain marie) and beat with a hand whisk. Add the sugar and whisk some more. Put a saucepan with a centimetre of water on the stove to boil and place the bowl with the yolks on top. Beat constantly with the hand whisk, until the mixture reaches the temperature of 75°C. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, note that the process takes 3-4 minutes and the final mixture has to be covered with foam (see photos).
Remove the bowl and add the gelatine. Stir well with the hand whisk until fully dissolved. Add the yoghurt and mix well to incorporate. Finally, fold the whipped cream in with a spatula carefully, so that it doesn’t loose its volume. As the gelatine will stabilise the mousse, we must fill our molds as soon as possible. The dosage fills six glasses (200ml), so if you have guests coming over double it!
You can combine the mousse with various crunchy, sweet or refreshing elements, such as biscuits, crumble, nuts, meringue, whipped cream, fresh fruits and much more. We chose to garnish our mousse with nougatine crisp (nuts in caramel) and berry meringues. You can find the recipe for the nougatine crisp in our older article “Birthday cake every day“. The recipe for the berry meringues is coming soon in our next article, dedicated to meringue. Stay tuned!
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5 Comments Add yours
Nice article, very informative. As an American, I have made Lemon Meringue Pie quite often (because I love lemons and limes, but about 8 years ago, in a vacation home owned by an english lady we found an old french book of traditional recipes. One was for a tarte citron made with a pate sucree and a lemon curd that had a few more eggs than my traditional Lemon Meringue Pie…
I have never gone back to the american version – the addition of more eggs and a large amount of unsalted butter makes the french tarte far superior in my opinion.
What a great story! We love French patisserie, too! Thank you very much for your comment and for the valuable information you gave us!
I love, love, love anything lemon or lime or both together! When I make lemon bars I use half lemon juice/half lime juice. And yes, I sprinkle the top with coconut – I thought these were my own inventions but it seems they are classic variations for lemon bars – who knew! And the lemon pudding cake – been making that for over 40 years, found it in an old James Beard cookbook – so easy and quick to make and everybody just loves it.
Thank you so much!! We are really happy to hear all that! We’d love to learn your lemon pudding cake recipe, if you’d like to share it with us! Greetings from Greece! ☺️
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I copied this word for word from the cookbook which was published in 1972 –
Lemon Cake Pudding
3 well beaten egg yolks
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 and 1/4 cup milk
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
Combine the egg yolks with the dry ingredients which have been sifted together. Add the melted butter, lemon juice, lemon rind, and milk, and lastly fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
Pour into a 2-quart baking dish and place in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes until firm. The trick of this pudding is that it separates into a sponge-like cake on top and the custard rests on the bottom. Very good served with whipped cream