Friends of ours – more escapees from Sydney – have just finished building their dream home in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. They moved up about a year after us, and have been living in a caravan and a shed on the block until their home was finished – even through the summer…with no air-conditioning. #respect
And what a home it is! With incredible views down the valley, they can watch storms blow in, sea eagles circle above and hear the cows in the paddock below. It’s definitely been worth the wait.
We visited on a cold and drizzly Saturday afternoon, so what better cake to take along than a little lemony sunshine?
This cake is one of my husband’s favourites and comes from one of the first cookbooks he ever bought me – The Crabtree & Evelyn Cookbook. Reading this cookbook has the feel of an English summer day – or rather the Country Living idea of what an English summers day should be like, with menus to match.
Published in 1989, the book is essentially a book of menus – and I do love a good menu, it’s what makes our Saturday night cuisine challenges so much fun. Which reminds me, I need to tell you about Diana Henry’s How To Eat A Peach; but I digress.
Take the Picnics section, for instance, which is where my lemon drizzle cake can be found. The menu titles are almost as evocative as the illustrations: Weather Permitting, Punting Downstream, and Sporting Afternoon. Then we get into Tea where we have Smashing Service, Croquet and Cucumber Sandwiches and English Farmhouse Tea.
Speaking of illustrations, there aren’t very many photographs of the food, but the book is full of gorgeous artwork. There’ll no doubt be more tea time treats from this book as I get closer to publishing the novel previously known as Christmas at Curlew Cottage but that will henceforth be titled Escape to Curlew Cottage, but for now, here’s the Lemon Drizzle Cake.
This is one of those cakes that’s fabulous served still slightly warm, topped with softly whipped cream – or a combo of yoghurt and softly whipped cream – but is equally as good the next day (or the day after) with a cup of tea. I make mine in a loaf tin, but if you wanted it to be a bit more special – not that this cake isn’t special enough in all its unadorned glory – you could also bake it in a round tin and slice through the middle when cooled to form two layers, and then fill with fruit conserve or curd.
If I’m baking this to take someplace else I double the recipe so I get two cakes – one to take and one to keep.
What you need
For the cake
- 140g plain flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
- pinch salt
- 60g unsalted butter, softened
- 135g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 5 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk – or runny plain yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
For the syrup
- 100g sugar
- 5 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
What you do with it
- Preheat oven to 180C and do the usual buttering/lining of your tin. I use a small loaf tin, but you could also use a 20cm round tin.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt and set aside.
- In a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and beat it into the mix enthusiastically.
- Fold in a third of the flour, followed by a third of the buttermilk, the next third of the flour and so on.
- Stir in the lemon zest and spoon the mix into your prepared tin.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- When the cake has about 10 minutes left to cook, prepare your syrup by combining the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat.
- As the cake comes out of the oven spoon the syrup evenly over the top, tipping and rotating the tin gently to make sure that it’s all covered.
- Cool in the tin on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar before serving.