Monday, 9 March 2009

Lemon Drizzzzzle cake

After spending the better part of this sunny Monday marooned in the library I absconded myself from the mountain of anthropology reading and spent a happy couple of hours baking.

Lemon drizzle cake is a real treat - I don't make it enough, though I love that lemony tanginess and the crunch from the inclusion of poppyseeds. This recipe's from Jamie Oliver's 'Red Nose Recipes' booklet available at Sainsbury's supermarkets. The booklet's in aid of Comic Relief, an annual tradition in this country when money is raised for charitable causes during a day of pranks, high jinks and tomfoolery - hence the 'comic' element ;-) The idea behind Jamie's booklet is to bake or cook something for Comic Relief Day, which takes place - rather inauspiciously - this Friday the 13th March.

So in the spirit of Comic Relief I decided to try one of Jamie's recipes and this lemon sponge cake caught my eye. Who doesn't love citrus-flavoured cakes and citrus fruit? A happy marriage methinks, and in this particular case I've adapted the recipe to make it gluten-free. Frankly the result is better than a sponge made
 with wheat flour, but that's entirely up to you. Use what you have in your cupboard.

Jamie's recipe calls for self-raising flour, and all I did was substitute this with nearly the same quantity gluten-free self-raising flour (if using the latter, drop the quantity by approx. 10% compared to regular wheat flour as gluten-free has a tendency to dry out more than wheat flour). Admittedly gluten-free flour doesn't always produce amazing results when baking, but this recipe called for a large quantity of ground almonds so the flour really is there to act as a binding agent, thus isn't the integral element of the cake. I wouldn't make scones, bread or pastry with this flour as the texture might be mealy or chalky. Anyway, I figured it was worth risking chalkiness in the name of experimentation, and thankfully the result's a success.

Don't be put off by the list of ingredients below - you need a lot of lemons, that's all. The cake's super-easy to make and so tangy it's worth the little bit of effort, and with all that syrup it should keep for a few days. 


  • 115g softened butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 180g ground almonds
  • 30g poppy seeds
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 115g self-raising gluten-free flour, sifted (original recipe called for 125g)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
Lemon syrup
  • 60g fructose (fruit sugar) instead of Jamie's original 100g caster sugar
  • 60g lemon juice (basically juice of 1 lemon)
Lemon Icing
  • 175g icing sugar (originally 225g icing sugar...far too much!)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly oil a 20cm diameter round cake tin.

Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each one. 

Fold in all the remaining ingredients and mix til even. Spoon the mixture into your cake tin and place in middle shelf of the oven and bake 40 minutes:

Check the cake's ready by inserting a skewer or toothpick - if it comes out clean, with no wet mixture on it then the cake's done. Allow to cool while making the syrup. All you do is place the lemon juice and fructose in a small saucepan and on a low-moderate heat allow the fructose to dissolve, then turn up the heat for a minute or two until the liquid reaches a light syrup consistency (you don't want a gloopy syrup...)

While the cake's warm, pierce it lots of times with the skewer and then drizzle the syrup over, allowing to soak into the cake. I kept the cake in the tin while I did this as otherwise you'll have syrup all over your kitchen. Keep pouring, be patient. Don't let the cake stay in the tin for too long though, otherwise the syrup will form a sticky glue to the tin!

Finally, sift the icing sugar in a bowl, add the lemon zest and juice and mix thoroughly until the mixture resembles a paste (or a loose face mask), then spoon this on the cake. If it's really a loose consistency, add a few tablespoons of icing sugar to thicken the icing, but I found I just needed to spoon it slowly over and over again the same spots on the cake and then finally the icing set - am loathe to add any more icing sugar than absolutely necessary, it's the lemon flavour I'm after!

And that's it, the lemon drizzle cake is ready for scoffing ;-) Now go and make one this Friday and raise some money for a good cause...

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