Within weeks of starting my job, I had become the teams’s unofficial birthday cake baker. So when a colleague mentioned that her favourite was lemon drizzle, I knew what was required when her birthday came around. The only problem? I’d never made a lemon drizzle. Luckily, my boyfriend’s nan, Pam, makes one of the world’s best lemon drizzle cakes and was kind enough to give me the recipe.
When I read the recipe I was worried. Where were the equal amounts of butter, sugar and flour that are the foundations of sponge-making? Trusting in Pam, I forged ahead anyway. And sure enough, a light, moist marvel emerged from the oven, ready to be soaked in lemon syrup and topped with the delightful sugar crust that is the trademark of a good lemon drizzle. Recipe below, with my few minor alterations to make it just that little bit fluffier.
For the cake
- 6oz self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 4oz caster sugar
- 4oz butter, at room temperature
- 2 medium eggs
- Grated rind of 1 lemon
- A splash of milk
For the topping
- 3oz granulated sugar
- Juice of 1½ lemons (or 2 small lemons
*1 loaf tin or 7-inch round tin, greased and lined with baking parchment*
- Preheat your oven to 180. Cut the butter into cubes. Using a hand-held beater or the paddle attachment of a free-standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and beat until well incorporated.
- Beat the eggs with a fork in a separate bowl. Gradually add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. If the mixture looks like it is going to curdle, add a desert spoon of the flour. Beat until the egg is all incorporated and the mixture is light and frothy.
- Sieve your flour and baking powder on to the mixture. Either beat in with the mixer or fold in with a large metal spoon, but be careful not to knock out any of the air you have just beaten in. Make sure there are no streaks of flour left in the mixture.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared and gently smooth the mixture – you can make a small hollow in the middle to encourage the cake to rise more evenly. Bake at 180 for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted in the centre comes out cleanly.
- Once the cake is cooked, leave to cool for a few minutes before pricking in several places with a fork and pouring over your topping, reserving a spoonful or two. It is important that the cake is still warm so that it fully absorbs the lemon syrup and leaves the sugar on top, but allow it to cool a little first so that the syrup doesn’t run straight through. After a minute, turn out the cake on to a cooling rack and add the remaining spoonful of topping, drizzling down the sides.
- Serve with a nice cup of tea, a comfortable chair and, if possible, a ray of sunshine pouring through the window.