I simply cannot resist lemons. Every time I go to the market, I buy some home even though there are probably already a couple in the fridge. It's not just the colour that gets me - so sun-shiny bright - but also the sharp, citrus flavour that cuts through everything. Lemons make everything better. Almost.
This weekend, after a particularly stressful week, I needed to make something out of lemons. Lemonade just wouldn't cut it so I resorted to making a cake. It was, after all, my husband's birthday and since he said he didn't have a particular favourite cake (well, he did say he liked the Spekkoek - the Indonesian layer cake - a lot but honey, I said, I made that once and vowed never to try it again - not even for you!), I chose to make a lemon cake.
Every baker has a lemon cake recipe or two (or four) in her (or his) baking repertoire, right? Just like the butter cake, pound cake or chocolate cake - a lemon cake is basic cake. But one of my favourites has to be a recipe by expert baker Dan Lepard. His Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe (published in the Guardian) is just absolutely fabulous. Ab fab, I tell ya.
It's lemony but not too tangy. It's sweet and moist and sticky. It's perfect.
It's not the typical cake you'd stick some candles in for a birthday do - for it's baked in a loaf pan - but, hey, I figure after a certain age, round, multi-tiered, birthday cakes are no longer a necessity. No, actually they're embarrassing. Come on. You agree, right?
What you want is a great cake that'll make you feel happy. Celebratory. Gleeful. This is the cake.
Lepard uses a generous amount of lemon juice and rind in his recipe - 90ml juice (about 2 lemons) and the zest of 2 lemons - but the cake isn't overpoweringly tangy. Perhaps it was his addition of ground almonds to the cake. You taste the lemon, most definitely, but just the brilliant brightness of it, not the shocking tartness. Even with the lemon-strong glaze that forms a nice, crisp (and pretty) crust as the cake cools.
Lovely. So, yeah, check his recipe out and give it a go. The birthday boy was happy. But that could also be because of the fabulous pressie I bought him (after being dragged to the store and told, "I want this!"). The recipe isn't included in the post but you can get it here, straight from Lepard.
Try the cake! Really, try it.