After conducting some serious Google research yesterday for a recipe for lemon drizzle cake for an impromptu Spring Bank Holiday picnic I eschwed the likes of Nigella and Delia for a recipe on the Anne's Kitchen blog. What won me over was the intense lemoniness of her recipe, adapted from one in an out-of-print book. Whereas Nigella and others use milk or yoghurt as the liquid in the cake mix, Anne's uses lemon juice. Also, she uses two kinds of sugar, caster and granulated. The caster is used in the body of the cake, while the crunchiness of the top is enhanced by using granulated in the syrup and by strewing a mixture of granulated sugar and lemon zest over the surface of the cake before pouring over the syrup. I found the cake was still not cooked with her 25 minutes suggested cooking time, and after another 10 or so minutes it resolutely refused to turn "a lovely gold colour" on top but browned round the edges. The cake was cooked though and was very moreish. The method of pouring syrup over hot cake is reminiscent of some Arab cakes such as basbousa.
Ifeel I should finally share with you all the much loved recipe that I always use and also at the same time write up a recipe from one of my many cookery books! It is really lemony, light and fluffy and will keep around 4 days.
I have made this so many times I have lost count now and after taking it to family a while back I am now blamed for weekend baking duties everytime my cousin comes home with an empty tin from Uni! Sorry Auntie!
This originally appears in Baking: Step by Step, published by Starfire, however this is no longer in print and is republished under another similar guise...we found this out when trying to get another copy for another family member! I have slightly re-written the method as the first 3 times making this recipe from the book I got confused and added things at the wrong time!
175g self raising flour
125g butter / hard margarine
175g caster sugar
2 pref unwaxed lemons
2 large free range eggs
2 x 25g granulated sugar
1) Pre-heat oven to 180 deg (160 deg for fan assisted). Beat the butter and caster sugar until fluffy (I use my Kenwood chef as easier)
2) Beat the eggs in a seperate bowl and slowly add, followed by a little of the flour each time until all incorporated
3) Take the first lemon, finely grate the peel (I recommend Microplane) and add to the mix, then juice the lemon and add to the mix, pour into a greased 7 inch square or round tin and smooth over (the original says square but I find it just as good in round tin). Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes away clean, it should be a lovely golden colour
4) Now take 25g of the remaining sugar and place in a small saucepan, grate the rind of the 2nd lemon and reserve, juice the lemon and mix with the sugar and heat until dissolved and starting to go slightly syrupy. Mix the reserved lemon peel with the other 25g of sugar and sprinkle over the cake, prick some holes using a skewer and carefully pour over the syrup - be careful it will be hot! Allow to coool fully and slice as required.