I love food. That's why I have a food blog. There's not much that I won't try, not much I don't like. But there are a few flavours that I keep going back to. Smoked paprika. Almonds. Lemon.
I'd be hard pressed to choose between lemon and almond, particularly when talking about cake (I haven't yet added smoked paprika to a cake) and I'll often seek to combine the 2 rather than choose, but today, it's all about lemon cake. Yet another one, I know, to join Felicity Cloake's perfect lemon drizzle cake (which does include almonds), the lemon cake with feathered icing, a lemon and blackcurrant cake...
This is another bake based on a Dan Lepard classic from Short & Sweet where it appears as Lemon Butter Cake. There's a version of this loaf cake online on the Guardian Life & Style pages from 2006 - slightly different to that which appears in print, but the constant ingredient is condensed milk, one of my other culinary loves. You might think the combination of lemon and condensed milk would be one that I'd find hard to resist, but in fact I've pondered the possibility for some time and never been quite sure. One of the joys of lemon is its sharpness - would the addition of condensed milk take that away?
Well, the fact is that I've had some tinned caramel in the fridge for far too long, left over from making my favourite flapjacks, so in the end, I didn't use condensed milk at all, and here's the result. No cloying sweetness, just a deliciously sharp, moist loaf cake, with massive mouth-appeal. .
Dan may bake with integrity - me, I just use up what I've got in the fridge. Either way, this is a mighty fine cake.
Lemon Caramel Cake
100g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
150g caster sugar
125g tinned caramel
grated zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 1.5 large lemons (save the other half for the icing)
275g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Line a large loaf tin with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Melt the butter and set aside.
Separate the eggs and measure out 25g of the caster sugar. Whisk the whites till frothy then tip in the sugar with the whisk still running until the mix forms soft peaks. Set the bowl aside.
Beat together the melted butter, the egg yolks, the remaining 125g caster sugar, the caramel, lemon zest and lemon juice until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and caramel coloured.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg yolk mixture and beat together till smooth, then fold in the egg whites till combined and scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
Bang the tin a couple of times to evenly distribute the mixture, then bake for 40-50 minutes till a skewer comes out almost clean.
Leave the cake to cool, then make up the icing by combining the icing sugar with the juice of half a lemon to make quite a runny icing. Drizzle this over the loaf.