Another reason for the Monkey Bread title: Monkey Yoga, right next door to Arizmendi. Do the yoga people come and eat yummy nut bread after their downward dogs? We'll just have to see.
And wedding-cake report: success! The lemon cake is excellent, and tastes just like regular cake. Maybe a smidge more dense, but it's a pretty dense cake to begin with, thanks to all that butter. In fact, I might try leaving out 2 tb of the butter on the next go-round, just to lighten it up a little, but the taste is great--beautifully bright and lemony. I usually make this with Meyer lemons, but even with plain old regular lemons from the supermarket, it's excellent.
The first time I made this cake, it tasted great but didn't rise, and in fact completely fell apart coming out of the pan. Happily, I knew author Fran Gage, just from the food-world circuit, so I could buttonhole her the next time I saw her at the farmers market, and ask what went wrong. Turns out there was a mistake in the first print run of the book, and the recipe called for half the amount of leavening it should. I doubled the baking powder next time, and voila! Excellent lemon cake. So, here's the correct recipe (with spelt/eggless/cornfree variations, should those be your issues).
Lemon Cake (adapted from Fran Gage's Bread and Chocolate)
Zest of three lemons
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
I like to take the zest off the lemons with a microplane, which gives very fine shreds. If you don't have a microplane, it's okay to take the zest off in bigger pieces. Bring water and sugar to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, add lemon zest. Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate overnight, or up to 1 week.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or white spelt flour)
1 tsp baking powder (or 3/4 tsp cream of tartar and 3/8 tsp baking soda--this is because regular baking powder contains cornstarch)
10 TB butter (I would use a little less, like 8 TB)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (or a scant 1/2 cup of firm silken tofu, pureed until smooth)
1/3 cup lemon juice
Lemon zest from above
Grease a loaf pan or cake pan. Drain lemon zest, reserving syrup. Chop zest finely, if necessary. Mix flour and leavening, and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, or tofu, and beat well. Add flour and lemon juice alternately, stirring gently until smooth. Stir in lemon zest. Add a tablespoon or two of lemon syrup to make a thick batter. Spoon batter into pan. Bake at 350 until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean. Let cool. Can drizzle with reserved lemon syrup if deserved.