Cake and I have a troubled relationship. I don’t buy shop cakes (unless as a dessert for entertaining as you will see elsewhere here) because I have done a deal with myself that if I want it badly enough I have to go to the bother of making it. By and large, I don’t have a sweet tooth and if you were to say to me that I have to live the rest of my life with only either cheese or chocolate or cake, it would be cheese all day long. So I am not one of life’s great cake bakers, consequently this site might be a bit light on cake stuff for those of you for whom a cup of tea or coffee is too wet without cake.
You certainly won’t find complicated recipes for whipped cream-laden gateaux, with chocolate curlicues and more fruit than an orchard. I admire the skill and craftsmanship that goes into making them, but speaking as someone who has to watch her weight, I am grateful that I can stroll past a patisserie without feeling any temptation……
Actually, that isn’t quite true: the pasticcerie of Turin and Naples exercise a pull on me, but for elegant, light pastries, not creamy, chocolatey extravaganzas. And when I am there, I will have one with a good espresso and thoroughly enjoy it. Interestingly, they are also significantly more petite than pastries we find in this country not to mention generally speaking, better quality. I have a feeling that the pasticcerie of Italy might be a whole other post, so here I shall pull myself back to the trusty lemon cake.
Given that I am not a great cake fan, this is my absolutely favourite cake, because it is a single clear note of flavour, i.e. lemon and it has an elegant refinement that appeals to me. It stands up for itself, saying OK, I’m just a simple lemon cake but I am the best lemon cake I can possibly be. Which is where ingredients come in. Please don’t be tempted to make this with any form of margarine or “spread” (yuck) or even salted butter, which will overwhelm the clean fragrance and flavour of the lemon. And do try to use free-range organic eggs, because their yolks will give a better colour to the finished cake. As we are using the zest, I also use unwaxed lemons, but even these I wash before we start. Please don’t scrub them as you risk scrubbing out the precious lemon oil in the zest. Oh and don’t let the simple method and short ingredient list fool you: this is sumptuous in its simplicity.
Tipsy Lemon Drizzle CakePrint Recipe
- 120g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 170g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 170g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp gin
- zest of two lemons
- 2 medium free range eggs, beaten up in a cup
- For finishing the cake:
- 100g icing sugar
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 tbsp gin
- 1 x 0.5kg/1lb loaf tin, base & long side lined and then greased with butter
Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/170C fan
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add the beaten egg, a little at a time, beating well after each addition
Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold in ensuring you preserve the air as you go
Add the lemon zest, milk, juice and gin; if you'r not using the gin, replace it with another tablespoon of lemon juice
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, ensuring you haven't created air pockets by giving it a sharp tap on the work top
Put in the centre of the oven for about an hour and then test with a metal skewer which should emerge clean, if not repeat at five minute intervals until you have a clean skewer
Once cooked, leave it in the tin for five minutes then turn on the a rack to cool
While it's still warm I love to feed it with either lemon juice or gin or a mixture of both (you know the drill: holes with a skewer and the liquid dribbled in)
As it cools, mix the icing sugar with the juice of half a lemon and 1 tablespoon of gin, or you can use all lemon
I have tried all gin but it wasn't popular!
You're aiming here for the consistency of thick double cream so adjust appropriately
Spoon the icing over the cake - I quite like the icing to drip down the sides - and leave to set
Don't under any circumstances refrigerate this as something happens which prevents the icing from setting
This works as a dessert cake, served with berries, baked apricots or baked rhubarb and creme fruit, so it is a useful cake to have around. I have also tried this with orange and whisky and although I don't care for it that much, it did find a fan base.