Man, I love a good lemon cake. It has to be really lemony and with a touch of tanginess. Which is why these buttery lemon cakes fit the bill at any time of day – I even took some to the pub* on Friday night for my brother’s birthday and people went mental for them. My mum used to make a French lemon cake called ‘Quatre Quarts’ where you weigh four eggs and then replicate their weight in flour, butter and sugar, and then add lemon zest. I’ve done that here, using a variation of the same recipe from Elle Fiches de Cuisine. It’s a bit fiddly, but soooo worth it. And because I love cakes that are fist-sized and easily portable, I’ve baked them as ‘cakelets’ (it’s a chubby baby cake) in a muffin tin and iced them with a lemon drizzle. And, as my brother said as he bit into one of these: “It’s just so lemony arghhh fughhghg mmmmm….” Exactly.
Makes 12 muffin-shaped cakelets
You will need:
4 large organic eggs
Their weight in:
Organic butter (at room temperature)
Organic self raising flour
Golden fairtrade caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (just for luck)
2 organic lemons (you’ll be needing the zest, so I chose organic)
Pinch of salt
For the drizzle:
85g golden fairtrade caster sugar
Juice of 1.5 lemons (use the same ones that you take the zest from)
Preheat your oven to 150C. Then weigh your eggs and take a note of their weight. Then weigh out exactly the same amounts each of butter, sugar and flour. (For example, if your eggs weigh 250g, that’s the weight that you’ll need of each of the other ingredients).
Zest both lemons (finely grate off the rind) and set aside. Separate the eggs. Mix together the butter and sugar until soft and creamy, using an electric whisk or mixer.**
Add the egg yolks to the butter and sugar mixture one by one, waiting until each one is well incorporated before adding a new one. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix everything well together, then mix in the lemon zest. In a clean bowl, whisk your egg whites together with a pinch of salt until they form loose, soft peaks. Not quite meringue stiffness. Then slowly and carefully add a third of the whipped whites to the cake mixture, gently folding in with a spatula. Then add another third, folding carefully in, then add the remainder. You want to not mix it around too much so that you don’t knock all the air out.
Line a muffin tray with paper cases, and divide the cake mixture between them. (I find this easiest to do using an an ice cream scoop). Bake for about 40 minutes at 150C, until risen and just turning golden.
Before the cakes cool down, make the drizzle. Juice your lemons and mix in the sugar. Prick each cake with a skewer several times and spoon the drizzle onto their tops. The icing will soak into the cakes via the holes. When the cakes cool down, the icing goes lovely and translucent.
Enjoy – it’s virtually impossible not to eat all of these cakes in one greedy sitting!
* The aforementioned pub is a real gem: The Montague Arms in Peckham, South London. You enter and your senses are immediately assailed by a colourful and bizarre array of stuffed animal heads mounted on plinths, ships wheels, rigging, lobster pots, penny farthing bicycles and thousands of ropes of fairy lights. At one end of the pub, two stuffed deer are sat in a Victorian carriage. Pot bellied men (mostly bearded) sup pints in dimly lit snugs and alcoves. You certainly don’t ask to eat here (although allegedly there is a Sunday roast): you just get pints and listen to the ropey experimental punk band (or whoever happens to be playing that night) – if you’re lucky the landlord (who looks like Captain Pugwash) might play a ditty on the in-house pipe organ… and there is a lovely elderly couple (probably in their 80s) serving at the bar. I kid you not!
** By the way: anyone got a Kenwood Mixer or Kitchen Aid food mixer (I can dream, can’t I?) they don’t want? I can give one a very loving home! My electric hand mixer is near-to-knackered… :o)