Memories of Lemon: Homemade Citrus-Scented Twinkies

Most of us who grew up in the United States have memories of eating Twinkies, those cream-filled cylindrical sponge cakes made by Hostess. 

In the run-up to The Memory of Lemon (June 14, 2016), I'm counting down with my favorite citrus-flavored recipes.  

And a repeat of my offer: If you pre-order The Memory of Lemon from your favorite bookseller or purchase The Cake Therapist or Bake Happy, let me know and I'll send you a colorful, downloadable booklet of the best lemony recipes.

Contact me at : and I'll send it to you as a lemony thank-you!

Back to Twinkies.

Recently David Leite of Leite's Culinaria featured a post on Homemade Hostess Cupcakes Recipe by Jennifer Steinhauer, and they look fabulous. Wouldn't it be fun to get with a friend and make both Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies for a gathering?

People were in a panic when Hostess Twinkies suddenly disappeared from grocery store shelves in 2013. Twinkies debuted in 1930 with a banana cream filling that was switched to vanilla after World War II. I loved Twinkies as a kid, but as an adult, I want more flavor and better ingredients. I came across Alison Okabayashi of Pretty Please Bakeshop in San Francisco who creates her own versions, which she calls “Twinks,” in upscale flavors of red velvet, pumpkin, and raspberry. They’re part of her “Nostalgics” line that also includes Ding Dongs and Whoopie Pies. 

Inspired by Allison’s creations, these Homemade Twinkies deliver on flavor with an orange glaze, a tender citrus-scented chiffon cake, and a fluffy filling. I had one wrapped up to give to a friend, but during a bad patch of winter weather, I forgot it in the back seat of my car for a week. When I unwrapped it and took a bite, just to see, it was still moist and delicious in true—but preservative-free—Twinkie style. 

To make these nostalgic treats, you’ll need a canoe or Twinkie pan, which you can find at craft stores, cake supply shops, or online.

Make the syrup first, up to a week ahead, and then bake up those Homemade Twinkies!
Orange-Cardamom Syrup
Homemade Syrups from Bake Happy: Orange-Cardamom is on the bottom right.

Drizzled over Citrus-Glazed Sweet Potato Pound Cake or fresh cut citrus fruit, this heady syrup dazzles.
Makes about 1 cup (250 ml)
1 cup (200 g) granulated or raw sugar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
In a large, microwave-safe glass measuring cup, combine the sugar, orange zest and juice, water, and cardamom. Microwave on high until the sugar dissolves, about 3 to 4 minutes. Let the mixture steep for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature, then strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl; discard the solids. Let the syrup cool and use it right away or store it in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.Let the mixture steep for 20 to 30 minutes. Then strain the mixture into a bowl and let cool.  Use right away or store in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

So Happy Together
Orange + Cardamom
Cardamom, a member of the ginger family, is native to Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and India. Cardamom and cinnamon star together in traditional Swedish bakingWhen paired with orange, but thethis aromatic green cardamom spice takes on makes bright-flavored orange taste slightly mysterious and edgy characteristics.

Homemade Twinkies  from Bake Happy
Makes 18 Twinkies
Baking spray, for the pan
Twinkie Chiffon Cake:
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (108 g) cake flour
3/4 cup (155 g) granulated sugar
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup (75 ml) cold water
1/4 cup (59 ml) vegetable oil
11/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
3 large egg yolks
Marshmallow Filling:
6 tablespoons (90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (120 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
21/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
1 (7-ounce/198-g) jar marshmallow creme
1 recipe Orange-Cardamom Syrup (above), prepared
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Spray the inside of a canoe or Twinkie pan with baking spray and set it aside.
For the Twinkie Chiffon Cake, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar almost until stiff peaks form—the peak should just turn over as you remove the beaters, about 6 minutes; set the bowl aside. In another large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set the bowl aside. In a separate small bowl, stir together the cold water, oil, lemon zest and juice, and egg yolks, and stir this mixture into the dry ingredients to make a smooth batter.
Pour the batter over the beaten egg whites, one-third at a time, folding the batter into the egg whites with a rubber spatula, using a figure-8 pattern and scooping up from the bottom of the bowl until the batter is evenly colored. Fill each cylindrical depression in the canoe pan half full with batter.

Bake until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched and are a golden color, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Re-spray the canoe pan and repeat the process with the remaining batter. Let the Twinks cool completely after baking.
For the Marshmallow Filling, in the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt, and marshmallow creme and process or beat the mixture until smooth.

To assemble the Twinkies, cut each Twinkie almost in half lengthwise, like you would a hot dog bun. Spread about 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling on the bottom half and sandwich the top and bottom halves together. Place each filled Twinkie on a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper for easier cleanup. Brush each with the glaze and let sit for 30 minutes to dry. Serve the Twinkies right away or store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

More Memories of Lemon: Lemon Verbena Pound Cake

I"m counting the days until The Memory of Lemon is published, June 14.

And I have a special offer.

If you pre-order The Memory of Lemon wherever you buy books, 

purchase The Cake Therapist,

or buy Bake Happy, I will send you a beautiful full-color, downloadable booklet of my favorite lemon recipes.

Just shoot me an e-mail @ and I'll send it to you.

It's my lemony thank-you to you!

And I'm including a fabulous lemon recipe here.

Lemon Verbena Pound Cake

Pound cake comes to the American dessert repertoire from European roots. The French call it “quatre quarts” or four fourths. The British just knew that a pound of four different ingredients—butter, flour, eggs, and sugar—was needed to make this cake and named it accordingly. With lemon in the batter and a tracery of lemon-scented leaves, this moist and fragrant pound cake is wonderful.

Makes (12-cup) tube or Bundt cake to serve 12

Fresh lemon verbena, lemon balm, or Rober's Lemon Rose scented geranium leaves
Softened butter for the pan
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar 
6 jumbo eggs           
3 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Confectioners' sugar for dusting 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a (12-cup) tube or Bundt cake . Press fresh leaves into the perimeter of the pan and set aside.

With an electric mixer or food processor, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Beat in the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour, a little at a time, until well blended. Stir in the flavorings. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert the cake on a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Memory Monday 2: Porch Swing Lemonade

The new Country Living Magazine is devoted to the idea of "porching." (I can't tell you how many times auto-correct has tried to change that to "porting.")

That's right. Porching. As in having a porch, decorating your porch, inviting friends and family over to your porch, and enjoying quiet moments there yourself.

Serenbe, a fairly new planned community near Atlanta, Georgia, is known as the Porch Capital of the United States because this architectural feature is a prominent one in their home designs. 

So what's the deal with the porch? Why bring it back?

With the advent of air conditioning in the 1960s, we gained a lot of comfort but lost a lot of socialization. People used to gather on their front porches during hot nights in the summer, sitting in a porch swing and drinking a cool and refreshing beverage as they talked to neighbors who walked by or came up for a visit.

Face-to-face. Imagine that.

A porch is public and private.

You can sit out on the front porch and read a good book or two. . . 

. . . and people see you and sigh, thinking "that's the good life." (As well as  "I have to buy that book. ")

With or without a porch, you can still channel that easy, breezy, outdoors-but-civilized feeling with Porch Swing Lemonade.

Made with a fresh herb syrup straight from your garden and fresh lemons, it is flavor worlds away from that canister of powdery lemonade mix.

You can chop a little rhubarb and cook it in the syrup to make it pink, float fresh fruit in your lemonade, or serve it in an old-fashioned glass crock and garnish with more fresh herbs.

Porch Swing Lemonade

Wouldn’t it be nice to sit on the porch swing and visit with your neighbors, sipping a homemade lemonade? You really can sit back and relax if you make the syrups a few weeks or days ahead. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice right before you want to serve the drink. Stir it all together in a pitcher or portable container, and serve over ice. Adapted from Heartland: The Cookbook.

Serves 4 to 6

Fresh Herb Syrup:
1 cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ cup packed fresh aromatic herb leaves, such as basil or lemon balm

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 7 large lemons)
1 1/2 cups water
Fresh lemon slices, for garnish
Sprigs of lemon balm or rosemary, for garnish

For the syrup, combine the sugar, water and herbs in a large microwave-safe glass measuring cup. Microwave on High for 3 to 4 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture steep for 20 to 30 minutes to extract the best flavor.
Strain the mixture into a bowl and let cool. Use right away or store in a covered glass jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Stir the lemon juice, syrup, water, and sugar together in a large pitcher. Add lemon or lime slices and herb sprigs, if you wish.  Add more sugar to taste, if desired. Serve cold.