While it is always a joy to making more elaborate cakes for friends and family, I love the total simplicity of a drizzle cake: no fuss, tangy, very moreish and so perfect with a cup of tea! And a slice of it eaten on a dreary day instantly evokes summer days for me!
Truth be told, this is the sort of cake that makes me the happiest when it comes to eating cake (with a no-frills Victoria Sandwich and a coffee & walnut cake fighting for top spot!). But this is arguably the easist cake in the world to make.
A real explosion of lemon flavours, this cake is always a treat to eat!
About the recipe
The recipe for the sponge is a variation on a recipe given by Raymond Blanc. Having very much enjoyed eating his lemon drizzle cake a few times at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, and having made his recipe for this wonderful cake numerous times, I do like to tweak a recipe: crikey, I often tweak or even radically over-haul my own recipes from time to time!
For my tweaks here, I have boosted the lemon flavour and I prefer a significant amount of the drizzle mixture to seep into the cake. I also like to brush a little lemon curd over the cake and finish with a sharp lemon icing: the lemon curd and icing are really not essential, and purists may well sneer (let them!), but that extra sticky lemony kick adds, I think, a touch more indulgence.
To finish off, I like to peel off some of lemon rind, slice it very thinly into strips and simmer them in a light sugar-water syrup for about 20 minutes: this softens the rind and take off some of the bitter edge. I then dry these on greaseproof and scatter over the iced cake. Again, this is not an essential addition.
Recipe: lemon drizzle cake – makes one large loaf
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 250g caster sugar
- 100ml full fat milk
- 190g self-raising flour, sifted
- grated zest of 3 large lemons
- 70g unsalted butter, melted
- a generous pinch of salt
- most of the juice from the 3 lemons
- 80g granulated sugar
To finish (optional):
- a few tablespoons of good quality lemon curd
- 50g icing sugar
- a little lemon juice and a little finely grated lemon zest
(1) Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (fan).
(2) Butter a 2lb loaf tin (about 22cm by 11cm at the top, 6cm deep) and line with greaseproof paper. Alternatively, use a deep 8″ round cake tin, also lined, or mini loaf tins/muffin tins, adjusting the cooking time accordingly (see step 4 for checking it has cooked).
(3) Beat together all of the above ingredients for about minute to get a fairly thick batter. Pour this into the prepared tin.
(4) Bake in the pre-heated oven for between an hour and 70 minutes, checking the cake after about 50 minutes. If you feel it is starting to brown too much on top, place a piece of greaseproof over it. To test if the cake is cooked, insert a skewer into the centre – if there is no mixture on it when you remove it, the cake is ready. If using mini loaf tins or muffin tins, bake for about 20 minutes.
(5) Towards the end of the cooking time, make the drizzle: mix the lemon juice, zest and sugar together in a bowl, reserving a little of the juice and zest for the icing – the sugar doesn’t have to dissolve: the crunch you get on the top with the sugar that hasn’t dissolved is wonderful!
(6) When the cake has come out of the oven, prick holes with a skewer over the surface of the cake and pour the drizzle carefully over it. Brush over the lemon curd. Leave to cool fully in the tin.
(7) If going for a tangy, sticky icing as well, when the cake has fully cooled, remove from the tin and peel away the greaseproof. Mix the icing sugar, some of the lemon zest and enough lemon juice to give a runny icing. Drizzle this liberally over the cake and sprinkle some finely grated lemon zest (or thinly sliced lemon rind that has been simmered in a sugar syrup for about 20 minutes) over the top.