You might call me obsessed, and you would be right. I mean, I don’t even know how many lemon cakes you can find in this blog. Lemons are and will always remain one of my favourite ingredients. I never tire of their taste and smell. If I were to close my eyes while plunging my face in a bag of those lovely yellow fruit, I would immediately be transported to somewhere in the Mediterranean.
A very good friend of mine came over to London for a short work-related visit. I hate not having a cake or some cookies standing by for days like these, but, as is so typical of me lately (don’t ask me why because I have absolutely no idea), I found myself frantically flipping through countless cake recipes and notes, not knowing what to do. After a few deep breaths and one lemon and ginger tea, it became as clear as day. The solution was simple: lemon cake. I love this recipe and I knew it was going to work. It brings so many memories of when I first started this blog. Enough nostalgia though and on with the baking.
- 125g unsalted butter
- 175g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- zest of a lemon
- 175g self-raising flour
- pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 100g icing sugar
Tin: 23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin (or similar), properly greased and lined
Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. When you line your tin with baking paper make sure it comes up to around 1cm or a bit more to the sides (see photo). This will make unmoulding much easier.
In a large bowl whisk together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and lemon zest and beat well. Fold in the flour and salt (you can leave the salt out if you want), and add the milk. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and place it in the oven. In the meantime prepare the syrup (see method below). Bake for around 45 minutes, or until golden and check with a skewer or knife to make sure it’s done.
Prepare the syrup by placing the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small pot over the heat and swirl the pan gently until the sugar dissolves. Puncture tiny holes in the cake and pour the syrup over the cake while it is still in the tin. Make sure the middle part absorbs as much liquid as the sides.
When the cake is completely cold, you can lift it up from the loaf tin onto your serving plate. If the cake is still warm it might crumble.
Incidentally my friend brought me a big bag of Mediterranean lemons from the tree in her garden. These will be very happy days, with many many baking days ahead! Enjoy! R xx
(This recipe is adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson.)
Now there’s no doubt that Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess is full of good stuff. Somehow I find that her recipes here are more refined than those in her other books. To be honest I cannot pin point exactly why; to me they just are. Just try the next recipe, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s one of my favourites: Damp Lemon and Almond Cake. It’s not a flourless cake; you still need some plain flour for this, but if you like almonds like me, you will be completely smitten by this beauty.
If you want to learn from my mistake, I’ll tell you that it is essential that you use baking paper for greasing your cake tin. I didn’t and you can see that mine got a little burnt at the edges. (You will need a 21-23 cm springform tin.) What I can assure you though is this: it was delicious, especially with real vanilla ice-cream! You could serve it alone of course, or with some sort of lemon ice-cream or sorbet, but for me that would be a tad too much. You still don’t know which cake I like best…Let’s start:
- 225g unsalted butter, softened
- 225g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 50g plain flour, or rice flour for a GF version
- 225g ground almonds
- ½ teaspoon almond essence
- juice and zest of 2 lemons
Preheat your oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Cream the butter and sugar together well. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a quarter of the flour after each egg.
When these have been well combined, gently add the ground almonds, almond essence, lemon zest and juice.
Pour into a very well greased and lined round cake tin and bake for around 1 hour. Mine was done after 55 minutes so every so often please take a look at your cake without opening the oven too much. After 30 minutes cover it with a piece of foil to stop the surface from burning.
After the cake is done remove from the oven and let it cool for around 10 minutes in its tin. Then turn it out slowly onto a rack.