Tag Archives: lemon

An unashamedly luscious lemon sponge…

The sun well and truly got his hat on this week. Well, for one day only we got a glimpse of the mystical realms of summer! I spent that day in one of my favourite places…the kitchen, whipping up 2 delicious light lemon sponges, drizzled with lemon syrup and sandwiched together with unashamedly lavish amounts of lemon curd buttercream icing…

My recipe is a conglomeration of both this recipe from ‘The Magenta Cakes Blog’ and my old faithful Victoria sponge recipe from Be-ro that I’ve been using since I started baking when I was knee high to a grasshopper (for the record, I don’t think I’ve ever been that short 😉 I then added lemon zest to give the sponge a summery lemon zing. It’s a really easy cake to make and I hope you’ll agree that it looks amazing!?

If you’d like to give it a go you’ll need…

350g unsalted butter

350g golden caster sugar

6 eggs

350g self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

Grated zest of 4 lemons

Splash of milk

For the lemon syrup you need…

Juice of 2 lemons

50g caster sugar

For the lemon curd buttercream icing you need…

100g unsalted butter, softened

200g icing sugar

2 tbsp good quality lemon curd

Juice of half a lemon

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and grease and line the bases of 2 x 8 inch cake tins.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. I used a handheld electric mixer but you can also use a posh KitchenAid style appliance if you’re lucky enough to have one or just get stuck in with a wooden spoon like they did in the olden days!

Add one egg at a time and with each one add a small amount of sifted flour and baking powder. Mix well after each addition and continue doing this until you’ve added all 6 eggs and all of the flour.

Stir in the lemon zest. At this point you need to use your judgement and if you feel that the cake mixture’s looking a bit thick, add a splash of milk until it’s smooth and of thick dropping consistency.

Divide the mixture between the 2 cake tins as evenly as possibly and pop them in the oven.

Whilst your cakes are cooking you need to whip up your lemon syrup. Simply squeeze the juice from 2 lemons into a bowl and stir in the suagr until it has dissolved. Set aside for later.

Check on your cakes after 30 minutes by inserting a skewer into the centre of them, if it comes out clean it’s ready, if not, pop them back in and check them after another 5 minutes (don’t forget, this part is crucial).

When you’re happy that they’re cooked, remove them from the oven and stand them on a wire rack. Use a skewer to make some holes in the cake and then pour over the lemon syrup. This’ll make the cakes even more moist and delicious…

Leave them to cool completely before removing them from their tins.

Now, you can make the lemon curd buttercream icing by using an electric mixer to beat together the icing sugar and the butter. Then add the lemon curd and finally the lemon juice, which will also make your icing slightly thinner and easier to spread. Give it a final beat until light and fluffy and then dollop it onto the top of one of your cake generously. Stack the other cake on top and finish it off with a dusting of icing sugar. Et voila…

Pure, unashamed, spongy, light, lemony, summery goodness…

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Boozy lemon & honey pots with blueberries…

My friend invited me over to lunch last weekend and as is very commonly becoming the norm, I was tasked with making the dessert. I decided to mix it up a bit and shunned the idea of baking anything, instead experimenting with a delicious sounding recipe for lemon and honey pots with blueberries that I’d seen in the February 2012 edition of Sainsbury’s magazine…

They sounded great and apart from the slightly fiddly task of making candied peel, were pretty simple. They also gave me the perfect excuse to make use of the last of my home made limoncello (recipe here)…

To give them a go all you’ll need is…

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp clear honey

2 tbsp limoncello (optional but highly recommended)

300ml double cream

1 large egg white

4 tbsp blueberries plus extra to decorate (apparently frozen ones are fine)

and to make the candied peel you’ll need…

Peel of 1 lemon, sliced into thin matchstick-like strips

100g caster sugar

I recommend starting on the candied peel first to get the fiddly bit out of the way. Use a vegetable peeler to take the rind off the lemon, be careful to only take the yellow layer and not any of the white pith as it’s really bitter. Slice each strip into long matchsticks. Put them in a pan of boiling water and blanch them for 30 seconds before draining and setting aside. Then put 100ml of water in a saucepan along with the caster sugar and bring to the boil. Leave it to bubble away until it starts getting syrupy. Add the peel to the syrup and leave to boil away for 10 minutes. Now comes the tricky bit…remove the strands of peel from the pan and lay them on some greaseproof paper to cool. I used some kitchen tongs that were large and unwieldy, making the task quite messy and arduous. The recipe suggested using tweezers but that just sounded ridiculous. I’m not sure what the perfect solution is but feel free to freestyle your own method 🙂

Now you need to start making the main part of the dessert…

In a small bowl, mix the lemon zest, juice, honey and limoncello together.

In another bowl, whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks. Do the same with the egg whites in a separate bowl. Then tip one into the other and fold together gently so that you retain the light airiness of the egg whites.

Finally fold in the lemon and honey mixture and make sure it’s well combined.

Put a spoonful of blueberries in the base of 4 glasses. Spoon in the creamy, lemony mixture and put in the fridge to chill until you’re ready to serve them.

Just before serving top each pot with a few strands of candied peel and a few more blueberries. I also toyed with the idea of drizzling a tiny bit of neat limoncello on top but decided against it at the last minute…maybe next time.

They were the perfect end to what had been quite a substantial dinner…light, zingy and creamy all in one!

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A magnificent golden tower of a cake

Last Saturday during my weekly perusal of the Guardian magazine I discovered a whole section entitled ‘50 top cooks top recipes’ it didn’t disappoint…there were so many great sounding recipes that I plan to work my way through. But with my brothers 21st birthday looming I was specifically on the look out for a new and exciting cake recipe…the article didn’t let me down and I found Dan Lepard’s saffron clotted cream cake recipe. I’d never heard of Dan Lepard before but having had a quick swizz of his website and blog I will definitely be trying out a few more of his recipes. He describes this cake as ‘A magnificent tower of light saffron buttercake, rich with clotted cream, layered with lemon curd and topped with clotted cream frosting and more swirls of lemon. The perfect summer party cake’ I didn’t need any more convincing and I was also totally intrigued with the concept of baking with saffron and clotted cream…both firsts for me!

It was a really really hot day, which had a bit of a bad effect on my icing, together with the fact that I got a bit over excited when estimating 2-3 tbsp of water straight from the kettle oops! It tasted great but it sure didn’t look like Dan’s.

I also got a a bit creative with the lemon swirls and edible gold glitter…it was my brothers 21st birthday cake after all!

The cake turned out perfectly moist and although not everyone could taste the saffron, I personally think it added beautifully fragrant undertones to the light but rich sponge which was then cut through by the tangy layers of lemon curd.

Next time I make this cake I’d like to use my own lemon curd and I personally think if you’re using shop bought that you need more than one jar and…don’t add too much boiling water to your icing 🙂

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Almond Biscotti

I love Biscotti…they’re sweet but not too sweet, crunchy but not too crunchy and are perfect for dunking. What more could you want! I’ve tried a few different varieties in the past including cranberry and almond and date and walnut but tonight the plan was to stick to simple but delicious almond biscotti. I followed a recipe that I found on the Joy of Baking website. Here it is – 

Almond Biscotti

145g blanched whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarsely

1tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

260g plain flour

150g granulated white sugar

3 large eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

1tbsp lemon rind

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Toast the almonds for 8-10 minutes or until light brown and fragrant. Leave them to cool for a few minutes and then chop roughly.

Reduce the temperature of the oven to 150 degrees and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Mix the eggs and essence in a small bowl.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Gradually add the egg mixture and beat with a handheld whisk until it forms a stiff dough. Adding the chopped almonds halfway though.

I usually form the dough into 2 logs approx 30cm long and about 2 and a half inches wide on the baking sheet. This part can get quite messy and sticky so have some spare flour handy to dust your hands.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until they are firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes. Then slice each log diagonally into 1/2 inch slices with a sharp knife. Lay each of the slices on it’s side on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 10 minutes, turn over and give them one more 10 minute blast in the oven until firm.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully before decanting into a container. I’ve been told that they keep well in an airtight container but to be honest mine never last that long as the temptation is too strong and it would be rude not to test a couple with a nice cup of tea wouldn’t it?

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