Although I adore lemon meringue pie, tarte au citron and other lemon desserts, I especially love a well-made lemon cake. I actually prefer slightly austere lemon cakes and have a particular fondness for loaf versions, which tend to keep very well. At most I like them decorated with a simple lemon flavoured sugar glaze, gently drizzled over the top of the cake - with lemon cake, I feel that less is often more so I try not to overcomplicate them!
I have a couple of fail-safe recipes which I have been baking for years and which satisfy my quite demanding requirements regarding what the perfect lemon cake should be but I am always eager to try out anything slightly different.
The recipe that I give here is a slight variation on one that was recently included in the UK edition of Delicious magazine. From the start the recipe intrigued me as it did not contain any butter – given my passion for butter, I would normally consider this a travesty, but my concerns were somewhat allayed by the fact that it contained a generous amount of clotted cream instead.
Clotted cream can be hard to acquire in Irish supermarkets, but if you seek it out, it can be bought. Glenilen Farm, based in Drimoleague, County Cork produce, amongst a range of other dairy products, a particularly addictive tasting clotted cream and this is the one that I used for this cake. At 60% fat content, it is richly creamy and the perfect accompaniment to freshly baked scones smeared with homemade strawberry or raspberry jam as part of a traditional afternoon tea. I think it is a great product and one that I would strongly recommend, especially if it is used to bake this wonderful cake.
If you like lemon cakes and you also like simple, pure tasting cakes, you really must try baking this one – it is absolutely delicious and one that I know I will definitely make again and again.
Ingredients:225g caster sugar
2 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
225g clotted cream
215g self-raising flour, sifted
2tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, from the zested lemons (keep the rest of the juice)
Juice of the zested lemons (see above)
45g granulated sugar plus extra for sprinkling
Method:1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4. Line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment and set aside.
2. Using a hand-held electric mixer, cream the sugar, eggs and lemon zest together until light and creamy and almost doubled in volume – this will take about 5 minutes.
3. Add the clotted cream and gently beat in to the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the sifted flour and fold in gently. Add the lemon juice and mix through.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes approximately until the cake is well risen and golden brown. Check the cake after 35 minutes or so and cover with tin foil if it is browning too quickly.
5. Remove from the oven when baked and allow cool in the tin for 5 minutes while you make the lemon syrup.
6. Heat the lemon juice in a small saucepan until just boiling and remove from the heat. Stir in the granulated sugar.
7. Using a thin skewer, prick the cake all over. Pour over half of the lemon syrup and set the cake aside to cool completely.
8. Remove the cake from the tin and also remove the baking parchment. Gently turn the cake over and prick the underside with the skewer. Pour over the remainder of the syrup and allow soak in to the cake.
9. Sprinkle to top f the cake with a little granulated sugar before serving.