I like lemon cake. In fact, a lemon cupcake recipe was the first recipe I posted.
I know a lot of people don't like lemon cake though. I once had a conversation with a guy who was completely against lemon in desserts/ sweet things- his argument was something to do with lemon only belonging in a G&T, ("I don't put cake in your gin, so don't put lemon in my dessert", perhaps) but I can't remember the full details. Which makes that a completely pointless story and for that I apologise.
My older brother popped home from Bristol on Tuesday night (which should tell you something about how messed up our perception of distance is in the South West- by "popped home" I mean "made a five hour round trip to pick up some paperwork"), and as I was staying at my grandparents and wouldn't see him, I decided to make him a cake. I've made a few too many chocolate cakes recently, and given that lemon drizzle is one of J's favourites, it seemed the perfect opportunity to make one.
This is based on a Hummingbird Bakery recipe, and really is incredibly easy. I'm still in the mindset of making mixer-less recipes, and while this one does require a little bit of arm work, it's certainly nothing unmanageable. Also, this always makes enough for a loaf cake and a few extra cupcakes- the amount has varied from four to ten cupcakes, so see how you go!
You will need:
325g caster sugar
Zest of 2 lemons (theoretically unwaxed, I never check)
A dash of lemon extract
350g plain flour
1 and 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
Juice of 1 lemon
200g butter, melted.
A bowl, a whisk, a spoon, weighing scales, a loaf tin, a cupcake tin and cases.
Preheat your oven to 180C
Start by putting your sugar, lemon zest, and eggs into a bowl. Whisk (by hand, or with a mixer, totally up to you) until your arm feels like it might fall off, and its gone from a dark yolk-y yellow to a pale, light, yellow, as below. If you're doing this with a mixer, keep going until it has doubled in volume. Then add a dash of lemon extract, and whisk a bit more.
Measure out your milk, and add the vanilla paste to it- mix together well, or all of your vanilla will sink and it'll be a nightmare to get out of the jug you've measured it in. Combine your flour and baking powder, then alternate adding the milk and the flour into your bowl, mixing well to combine after each addition.
Now, I almost always forget to add the butter. Don't do that, it won't taste anywhere near as good, and it's a faff to scrape your batter back out of your tin. Melt the butter, and pour it into the mixture gradually, again, mixing well while you do this.
Line your tin either with a pre-fab loaf lining case (the easy option), or grease and line with baking paper. Do this by cutting a rectangle of baking paper bigger than your loaf tin, and cutting diagonal slits in at the corners. Then press down into the tin before pouring in your cake batter and baking at 180C for 45 minutes or so, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. This made one loaf tin and seven cupcakes for me this time.
While the cake is baking, make a decision- either you're going to make a lemon syrup to drizzle, or a lemon icing to pour over the top. Totally up to you. The lemon syrup can be made by combining the juice and zest of one lemon with 50g caster sugar and 100ml of water, then heating until syrupy (sorry, that really is unhelpful. Wait until the bubbles change in texture, it'll be fairly obvious when you do it), and pouring over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
I went with the lemon icing this time- which was made by mixing the juice of two lemons with enough icing sugar to make a thick, pourable (but not runny) icing. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the loaf covered in it- I had to run off before the cake was fully cool and therefore left it in Mama CupandSaucer's capable hands. But the cupcakes were pretty tasty.