Updated: May 16, 2020
"The bowl of icing was right there on the counter, ready to go, and cakes are best when just out of the oven, and I really couldn't possibly wait, so I reached out to the side of the cake pan, to the least obvious part, and pulled off a warm spongy chunk of deep gold. Iced it all over with chocolate. Popped the whole thing into my mouth." - Aimee Bender, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
As I write this I am smiling through another mouthful of freshly baked Lemon Drizzle cake. I must admit I am not a baker, not even an amateur one. I have been told that baking is a science consisting of essential measurements that one must keep to the exact given mark, all culminating into the perfect balance of flour, sugar and butter. I do not have the traditional finesse of Mary Berry, or the effortless grace of Nigella. If anything, my movement in the kitchen is akin to Bambi on ice: sugar on my nose, flour billowing behind me as I run to and fro trying to make sure I don’t burn anything down, all in a valiant effort to make something delicious.
Just recently we celebrated the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, otherwise known as VE Day. Despite the strange circumstances it was still remembered in the most humbling way. I particularly enjoyed BBC 1’s dedications and watched in awe at the showcased black and white film taken on the day, filled with many jubilant faces. The RAF performed their routine flyover and I listened to the various recognitions and performances to commemorate such a remarkable time.
It was not just on screen that I felt a sense of camaraderie. During our usual short walk I lost count of the number of Union Jack buntings carefully hung outside homes and was surprised to see many neighbors outside their front doors in respectful silence when the clock reached 11am. All were companions in arms (even with the expected social distance at play). The Queen’s speech later in the evening was the icing on the cake. The day filled me with an inexpiable sense of happiness and inspiration.
Thinking of these times truly puts things into perspective and proves very sobering. All of a sudden my own personal complaints and problems dissipated in light of such incredibly severe events.
In ode, I decided to bake a long established afternoon tea favourite, beating even the Victoria Sponge in popularity, I settled on trying my hand at the acclaimed Lemon Drizzle Cake. This is my small way to honour both the British efforts and their allies, making this small bake ever so slightly more profound on this occasion.
How to make a simple, yet classic, Lemon Drizzle
1 tsp lemon zest
4 large eggs
1 tbsp lemon juice
300 g caster sugar
225 self-raising flour
225g butter (unsalted)
Take it step by step
Heat up your oven to 180 ºC – this is just a benchmark, my oven tends to run slightly hot so I settle it at around the 150/160 mark.
In a large bowl beat together the butter and 225g of the caster sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix in one egg at a time – you should do this slowly but as I was rather impatient I did end up making quite a mess so don’t feel bad if you do too.
Beat in the flour next.
Oh and don’t forget the zest! Very important for that much sought after zing.
Bake your lemony, soon to be spongy goodness for 1 hour – the wait is excruciating so I highly recommend picking up a book to take your mind off of it for a bit.
You’ll know it’s done when you stick a toothpick inside and it comes out clean – again, I was impatient and with a few bits of sponge sticking here and there I though it would do. I was right.)
In a small bowl stir together lemon juice and the remaining caster sugar.
Take out your sponge and whilst it is still warm, prick it every which way with a toothpick. Then, begin to drizzle the mixture you just made all over the top.
Let this sink in – both the drizzle and the fact that your cake baking adventure has been successful thus far – and leave to cool completely.
Finish your book to distract yourself from your growling stomach and the need to cut into your cake too soon.
Once cooled, brew some English breakfast tea, add a dash of milk and sit down to enjoy afternoon tea with a classic slice of lemon drizzle cake.