Friday, 24 January 2014

Lemon Cake

My favourite cakes and I mean my FAVOURITE cakes to eat are lemon cakes. I love the taste of lemons and as such I am always eager to try out new and interesting recipes containing them.

With lemon cakes I am not overly bothered about producing fancy gateaux, but rather I like ordinary looking cakes that pack a hidden lemon flavour punch. My fail-safe lemon cake is at heart a basic Victoria sponge filled with lemon curd and drizzled with a lemon glace icing; incredibly simple to make but… oh… SO tasty!
 
Another favourite cake, which I have made hundreds of times during my life is my lemon Madeira cake. This is a solid looking cake, but with a surprisingly tender crumb! My children love it, particularly my son so I make it frequently.
 
Anyway, despite the fact that I have a couple of much-loved lemon cakes that I regularly bake, I am always keen to experiment and try out new variations. This recipe which is based on one that I came across by Raymond Blanc is unusual because you don’t cream the butter and sugar together and then add the eggs before introducing the flour. Here the ingredients are weighed and measured and placed into a bowl and beaten together and then the flour is added to make a fairly slack and runny batter. Plain flour is used, to which only a small amount of raising agent is added and yet the resulting cake is surprisingly light with a tight crumb. I was extremely pleased with how it tuned out and given how easy it was to make, I know that it is destined to become another family favourite.
 
I asked a few of my trusted taste-testers whether they liked the cake and the response was overwhelmingly positive. This is a cake that may look quite plain, but as we all know beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is one that I would recommend to anyone who wants to make a no-nonsense cake packed full of flavour.

Ingredients:

Cake:
5 large eggs
300g caster sugar
140ml double cream
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
2tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
80g butter, melted
240g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
To glaze:
3tblsp apricot jam
To finish:
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
150g icing sugar

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4. Line a 24cm x 10cm loaf tin with baking parchment.
2. Place the eggs, sugar, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice and butter in a large bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together until all the ingredients are mixed together.
3. Sift the flour and baking together and gradually mix into the egg mixture to create a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 50 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
4. Remove from the oven and allow sit for a couple of minutes and then remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire cooling rack. Do not switch off the oven.
To glaze:
5. Place the apricot jam into a small saucepan and warm through. Place the cake on a baking tray. Brush the sides and top of the cake with the warmed jam and set aside for a few minutes while you make the lemon glaze.
Lemon glaze:
6. Put all the ingredients for the lemon glaze in a small saucepan and heat through until the sugar has dissolved. Brush the lemon glaze over the top and sides of the cake and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Place the cake into the oven again and switch off the oven. Remove the cake after 5 minutes and when cool enough to handle place on a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
 
Serves 8-10.