As the weather begins to turn warmer, my thoughts start to turn away from the dense fruit cakes and heavy spices of winter and onto lighter bakes. A good Lemon Drizzle cake marks the start of spring in my household and is normally my Easter staple, if only to cut through the insane amount of chocolate that I consume! There are a thousand different ways of making a Lemon Drizzle cake and I think I may have tried them all before settling on my favourite. This was found in a beautiful French baking book and differs in some ways to our traditional English number. First, instead of a classic sponge, this cake uses a Genoise which results in a lighter texture with a beautiful crumbly crust. I normally go against tradition and forgo the cracked sugar coating entirely, instead opting for lemon syrup which I drown the entire cake in. This creates a mirror like finish to the cake and soaks into the crust making the finished article moist, sweet and delicious! As I figure this may be a bit different to what most people expect though, I have added both the syrup and a traditional drizzle to the below recipe so you can use either or, like I have, both!
*This recipe and tips were featured on the Verity Cowely show on BBC Radio Nottingham on 14-4-2015
3 Unwaxed Lemons
280g Caster Sugar – Golden if possible but normal white will work equally as well.
4 Large Free-Range Eggs
100g Single Cream – Heated to lukewarm
220g Plain Flour
6g Baking Powder – Make sure it’s under 6 months old
70g Melted Unsalted Butter
100g Caster Sugar – For the syrup
100g Caster Sugar – For the Drizzle
Preheat your oven to 200c
Lightly grease and line a large loaf tin or two small loaf tins
Wash and dry your lemons. Grate the lemons straight into the sugar (see tip #1)
Add the eggs to the sugar and lemon mix and whisk for around 4 mins, until pale and fluffy (see tip #2)
Add the lukewarm cream and stir to combine
Sift the flour and baking soda into the mix (see tip #3)
Add the melted butter and stir well to combine.
Pour the melted butter into the prepared tin(s) and place into the preheated oven for 5min. Remove from the oven and score with a knife.
Decrease the oven temp to 155c and return the cake to the oven for another 30mins (see tip #4)
Whilst cake is cooking, make your glazes.
Juice 1.5 lemons and add to a saucepan along with the 100g caster sugar. Bring to the boil whilst stirring gently.
Juice another half a lemon and add to the 100g Icing sugar. Stir to combine.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 5mins on a cooling rack.
Remove the cake from the tin and use a pastry brush to thoroughly coat the cake in the sugar syrup. I like to do this many times over the course of half an hour. The cake should be sticky and shiny.
Use a spoon to cover the cake in the Drizzle topping and leave to cool for at least 30mins.
This cake will keep, if well covered, for a good couple of days so it’s good to make for picnics and summer parties.
#1 – Grating the Lemons into the sugar will preserve the flavour of the zest, resulting in a far greater lemon taste in the finished cake.
#2 – You must use an electric whisk for mixing the sugar and eggs together as you will never get the correct amount of air in your eggs if you try to beat by hand. Don’t stop mixing until the batter leaves a trace when you remove the whisk.
#3 – As I always harp on about, don’t skip the sifting of your flour! If you simply ‘throw it in’ then your cake will end up flat and sad!
#4 – The oven timings for this cake may go against everything you know about baking but, trust me, it really does work! By starting the oven high you are enabling a crust to form which, when you cut into the cake on the 5min mark, will allow the batter underneath to rise up and out on a low and slow bake. The end result will be a tall, rounded top cake which is always sure to impress!
Edit: This recipe is neverendingly adaptable. Here is another version made for an Easter charity bake sale. This is the same basic cake but filled with Vanilla Italian meringue and topped with Lemon Curd!