Strangely, the older I get the more fun I find Easter and Christmas. I still receive Easter eggs, which is great, but both of the days have become family, friends, food and drinking-during-the-day occasions, which as it turns out, is a lot more fun than sitting at the children’s table. I like Easter from a food perspective too – there’s much more room for flexibility than at Christmas, and each year’s Easter Sunday dinner is different. The benefit of this flexibility is that the newspapers and magazines go into overdrive to offer as many seasonally-appropriate Easter-special meal options as possible, so it’s a good time for recipe-hunting. I came across a recipe for a ‘Luscious Lemon Cake‘ in the Telegraph’s Easter Baking Special last week which seemed like the perfect end to an Easter meal: light, luxurious and very, very lemony. This cake is, according to its author, ‘the kind of cake that we were never allowed to eat when we were little’, which suits this new stage of grown-up family celebrations perfectly. This cake takes a bit of time and a careful scan of the ingredients list (count the number of lemons before you start) but is truly gorgeous. I halved the recipe, used primroses rather than rose petals and tweaked the amount of icing etc, so this is my Lovely Lemon Cake.
Lovely Lemon Cake
For the lemon cake
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar (vanilla if you have it)
225g self-raising flour
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
Juice of one and half lemons
Tablespoon of milk (plus more if necessary)
For the lemon butter icing
100g icing sugar
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half a lemon
For the lemon drizzle
Juice of half a lemon
For the lemon frosting
Touch of boiling water
Lemon zest (long strands)
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Grease and line two small round cake tins. Cream the butter and sugar together in a food mixer until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour over the mixture, then fold it in gently with a metal spoon, together with the lemon zest, adding as much of the lemon juice and milk as you need to give a soft, dropping consistency. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins, spreading it evenly, and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand the tins on wire racks for 20 minutes, before turning the sponges out onto the racks to cool completely.
To make the butter icing, beat all the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth, light and fluffy. Lay the first sponge on a large plate and spread the butter icing evenly on top, then place the other sponge on top.
For the lemon drizzle, gently heat the lemon juice and caster sugar together in a small pan to dissolve the sugar and then boil for five minutes. Skewer holes over the surface of the top sponge and slowly pour the warm lemon drizzle syrup evenly over.
To make the frosting, whisk the icing sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl, then pour on top of the cake to cover, allowing it to run down the sides. Put the cake in the fridge until the frosting has set. N.B – adjust the quantities of the various icings as desired. If you want a more lemony cake, make more of the lemon drizzle; if you want a richer cake, make more of the lemon butter icing, adding more butter and icing sugar till you reach your desired consistency.
Just before serving, zest a lemon over the frosting and add your crystallised flowers.
These need to be made 24 hours in advance of the cake.
Assortment of whole blooms: primrose, pansies, rose petals, violets. Make sure they’re clean and pesticide free. Trim the stem to 1/2 a centimetre.
1 egg white, whisked
White caster sugar
Whisk the egg white and add a few drops of rosewater. Paint each side of the blooms carefully and then cover all over with caster sugar using a fine sieve. Place on a cooling rack and allow to dry in a warm dry place for up to 24 hours, or until fully crisp. Once dry, store in an airtight container for up to a week.