Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Queen of the drizzle

I don't usually like lemon cakes all that much since they remind me of the dry, tasteless sponges we were served at school or at old people's houses! That said, I have recently been converted by the extraordinary baking prowess of... myself. Well, its not that hard to beat the dinner ladies and I have never bought one from a nice bakery. 

I decided to make a lemon drizzle cake this week for a colleague's birthday since it was his favourite (no doubt he had a talented lemon drizzle making family member and wasn't subjected to the same school food trauma as I was). 

Not satisfied with the recipes I found online I made up my own, taking the best ideas from my top three. I also had the idea of adding 'lemon sugar' to give it a crumbly, sugary crunchy exterior since having been inspired by the textures of Gail's very different but similarly rustic apple crumble cake. The lemon sugar really makes it I think, giving it an extra zingy sweetness to cut through the bitter lemon syrup. This recipe makes a sponge that is zesty and light but not too insubstantial or dry (due to the almonds) with syrupy edges and a crystallised crust.

P.s. sorry for the lack of pictures. I wasn't going to do a post on this but after eating it (you will see only one loaf is photographed / made it into work!) I decided I had to! 

Lemon drizzle (left) Helene's chocolate snowflake cake (right)
Ingredients for 2 loaves (each loaf serves 6-8)
280g softened butter
280g caster sugar
Zest of 3 big lemons
juice of 2 Big lemons
5 medium eggs
250g self-raising flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
65g ground almonds

For the syrup
60ml lemon juice
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
60g of icing sugar

For the glaze
45 ml lemon juice
120g icing sugar

For the lemon sugar
Rind of one lemon
2 heaped tablespoons of caster sugar


Heat the oven to 180C or 160C fan. Butter and line the base of 2 loaf tins.

All ingredients should be at room temperature. Cut up the butter and put in a big mixing bowl. If it is still quite hard, place the bowl in the oven which is heating up for 2 minutes or so.

Pour in the sugar and beat with an electric whisk. Once combined add the lemon zest, the flour and the baking powder and whisk till it firms a think paste.

Now add the eggs one by one, whisking in. Add the ground almonds and the lemon juice, and mix well.

Pour the mix into your tins leaving a couple of centimetres for it to rise (use any left over mix to make cupcakes which will cook for 10-15 mins).

Place your tins in the middle of the oven and cook for 40-60 minutes checking so you remove it when a skewer through the centre comes out clean with no cake mix on it.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by mixing icing sugar into a thick paste by adding a few drops of lemon juice and then thinning it by gradually mixing in the rest of the lemon juice. Then add the sugar and stur. You want a syrupy mix that will coat your finger properly but is still very runny. Heat this mix in the microwave for 30 seconds or in a little sauce pan and stir well.

Now make your lemon sugar by simply mixing the zest and sugar together with a spoon so you get a sort of crumble.

When the cakes are done, remove from the oven and carefully skewer a dozen holes in each. Pour the syrup carefully over the whole surface and into the holes. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes or more.

When the cakes are cool you can start on the icing. Again make a thick paste and then thin by gradually adding the rest of the lemon juice. Keeping the cake it its tin, carefully go around the edges of the cake with a knife, loosening it. Leave it in its tin and pour half the icing over both cakes carefully so it gets an even coating. Pour any excess in the corners of the tin back into the icing bowl. Allow to set for a couple of minutes and repeat, this time running your knife along the edge again so that the icing can seep down. Again pour of any excess so you don't get thick white corners. Now to finish, sprinkle your lemon sugar artistically over it and leave to dry. 

Cover until ready to serve. To serve carefully turn it out of its tin and place on a nice platter. Ta da! 

all gone