It was my Birthday last Tuesday (hello late twenties!) and I'm pleased to say I was spoilt rotten. I was lucky enough to receive this fantastic River Cottage Cake Handbook by Pam Corbin (author of the equally amazing Preserving Handbook). Just the weight and feel of the book itself is so satisfying - I love the retro pink cover and the fact that it doesn't have a dust jacket.
The book is full of beautiful food photography and pretty much every recipe for tea time treats you'll ever need. I love Pam's style of writing - you really feel as though she's guiding you through the recipes - it's very comforting!
On this sun dappled Sunday afternoon I decided to make the lemon drizzle cake but increased the quantities by 1/3 to better suit my enormous 18'' x 9'' rectangular cake tin.
This recipe uses the 'all in one' method so it's in the oven in no time (just the thing for a hot and sticky day like today).
Lemon Drizzle Cake
230g Self raising flour
2 tsp Baking powder
230g Caster sugar
230g Unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons and the juice of one
Lemon Glace Icing:
330g Icing sugar
Juice of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 180C and line your cake tin with a long strip of greaseproof paper (so it goes down one long side, across the bottom and up the other long side. The short sides will be fine).
Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl, add all the other ingredients and beat with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes until you have a smooth batter. Pour into your prepared tin and smooth out the surface with the back of a spoon (I could have done this a bit more thoroughly so the surface of my cake isn't completely even - you can learn from my mistakes and do better!).
Pop in the oven for around 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
For an extra hit of lemon, I brushes the entire surface of the cake with the juice of a whole lemon soon after it came out of the oven.
To make the lemon glace icing, sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and bring the lemon juice to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the lemon juice to the sugar a few drops at a time until it comes together into a stiff-ish icing. Beat it with a wooden spoon until it's smooth and glossy.
The surface of the cake will be moist and delicate after all that lemon juice so I dropped the icing onto the surface a teaspoonful at a time, working my way across the whole surface of the cake. Don't worry about any gaps - once you've used all the icing just take a metal desert spoon and dunk it in a mug of boiling water to heat it up. Use the back of the hot spoon to smooth over the icing! I garnished my cake with some more grated lemon zest but nasturtium or borage flowers would be even better!