lemon drizzle cake
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I usually bake a cake or something like it on Friday evenings, being the creature of habit that I am. We exercise inhuman restraint not tasting it when it’s freshly baked; sometimes wisely, sometimes more fool us if it’s a confection absolutely at its best warm from the oven.
We and the cake wait patiently until Saturday morning when the cake is given final touches, if necessary and photographed, if applicable. Then, having brewed a gallon of coffee, we read the weekend newspapers and stuff ourselves with at least two helpings of cake each, phwoaring every now and then to each other at how good it is. The rest of it lasts until Wednesday or thereabouts.
This was a super-disappearing cake – only a few crumbs were left by Sunday afternoon. First off, it was exceedingly good, not least thanks to an extra lemon zested into the mix or to the – totally optional but totally right – icing glaze. Secondly, a friend in some domestic-related distress popped round and had to be given cake and sympathy. Sunday breakfast was late and slapdash – so cake was eaten instead of full or even half English and before we knew it, it was gone.
Just then I thought perhaps it wasn’t so ridiculous back in the day to bake a pound cake by the book: a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, a pound of butter and a dozen eggs…
- For the cake:
- 200g (1 cup) caster sugar
- zest grated from 3 medium lemons
- 115g (1 stick) butter, softened
- 3 large eggs
- 225g (1 ¾ cup) plain flour
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp fine salt
- ½ cup (120ml) double cream
- For the drizzle:
- juice squeezed from 2 lemons
- 2 tbsp. caster sugar
- For the glaze (optional):
- 2 tbsp. icing sugar
- a little lemon juice or hot water
Line a medium loaf tin (9 x 5 in) with parchment so it overhangs on all sides. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.
Place the sugar in a large bowl and grate the zest from the lemons over it. Rub the zest into the sugar with a spoon or spatula. Add the butter and beat it in until reasonably fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one by one.
Stir the salt and soda into the flour and fold it into the mix in three goes, alternating with the cream. Use a spatula or an electric mixer on very low speed, just until the batter is combined. Spoon it into the prepared tin and bake it for 55 – 60 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place the tin on a wire rack. Leave it for 10 minutes.
In the meantime bring the lemon juice and sugar to a boil in a small pan. Turn off the heat, wait a few minutes and spoon the syrup over the cake in the tin. Leave it to cool completely before removing from the tin and peeling off the parchment.
For the glaze, beat a small amount of lemon juice and/or hot water into the icing sugar until smooth and pouring consistency. Drizzle over the cooled cake.