This Simple Step Will Elevate Your Next Citrus Cake

It's summertime and that means that citrus is never a bad choice. Something about a twist of lemon in a drink, dish, or dessert just makes the sun shine a little brighter and smiles a little wider. Citrus fruit has plenty of great properties. In the case of fish, it helps to brighten the more savory flavors and dampen the fishiness. It also works fantastically with the natural salts found in saltwater fish's meat to balance out that perfect fish dinner. Celebrity chef Daniel Boulud adds a spritz of citrus to just about everything he makes. He says that the sour-sweet flavor profile has a knack for complementing just about anything.

Citrus shouldn't be reserved just for savory dishes, either. It can have just as much of a potent effect when it comes to dessert as well. A light, refreshing lemon and poppyseed cake is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon picnic in the sun. There's also an easy step you can take to make that citrus truly shine in your next sweet offering.

Use citrus sugar to heighten flavors

An easy way to really spike your citrus cake with more flavor is to use a citrus sugar. This won't require any extra ingredients, just an easy extra step that will easily elevate your desert.

According to Bon Appétit, to make citrus sugar, just zest whatever fruit you're using into the sugar called for in the recipe. Then, massage the two together, and add it to your batter. This simple trick lets the citrus zest express its essential oils into the sugar. Normally these flavorful oils are left in the skins of the fruit, but massaging the zest into the sugar infuses them into the final product instead. As you massage the mixture, you should be able to feel the difference as the additional oils give the sugar a texture akin to wet sand. Bon Appétit notes that a good ratio to follow for citrus sugar is 1 Tbsp. zest to 1 cup of sugar, but there's plenty of room to add more or less of either depending on the recipe.

According to a study in Chemical Senses, sugar actually has the ability to help balance out citrus fruits as well. It found that when sugar and lemon extract are mixed, sugars' sweetness can slightly mask the perception of lemon's sour notes. This way you'll be adding more sweetness to your final cake without it being overbearingly sour.