|Nigel Slater's Demerara Lemon Cake|
I always have a strong idea of what I want either my food or my photographs to look like. It is clear in my imagination. Sadly, the reality is very different. What I wanted was something a bit like Dom at Belleau Kitchen’s gorgeous Lemon and Marmalade cake, but with added lemon. (Can you feel my envy oozing out of this post?) Good, that was the intention.
What I got was another “Rachel Kelly Patented Kitchen Calamity with Added Serendipity” . . . When I first baked this lovely moist and lemony cake, the delicately caramelised lemon slices I laboured over plummeted to the bottom of the cake. However, trial, considerable error and several years later, I have managed to learn from my mistakes. Or so I thought.
Yet again my beautifully softened lemon slices that should have decorated the top of my cake sank back into the cake’s enticing citrusy embrace. So while it was not quite as beguiling as I had intended, an unforeseen consequence was that my drizzle cake now had a sort of lemon curd filling. I cannot begin to tell you how happy that made me. Serendipity strikes again. Not that I will ever be able to repeat this if I tried!
Nigel Slater's Demerara Lemon Cake
(adapted from Kitchen Diaries I)
Serves: 6 - 8
Skill level: Easy
1 x lemon
2 tbsp Demerara sugar
4 tbsp water
200g demerara sugar
90g plain flour
90g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
zest of 1 x large lemon (reserve the juice for the syrup)
4 x large eggs
2 tbsps demerara sugar
juice of 1 x lemon (see above)
- Set the oven to 160C / Gas Mark 3.
- First make the the topping, by slicing the lemon thinly. Put it in a small saucepan with the sugar and water. Bring to the boil then watch closely for five minutes or so until the water has almost evaporated and the lemon slices are sticky. (You may need to give it a gentle stir from time to time, but try not to break up the slices). Set aside.
- Beat the butter and sugar together either with an electric beater or in a food processor until they are light and fluffy. Since you are using demerera sugar, this process will take longer than usual. But keep at it as you need the lightness to keep your cake light too.
- Weigh out the flour and almonds and mix them with the baking powder. Grate the lemon and add the zest to the flour mixture. (Make sure that you don't throw away the lemon as you need the juice for the syrup.
- Line a baking tin with a piece of buttered baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
- Beat the eggs lightly with a fork, then add them to the creamed butter and sugar, a little at a time. (I usually do this in about 3 to 4 goes). The mixture will probably curdle a little, but don't worry as this really will sort itself out in the oven.
- Fold in the flour, almonds and baking powder with a big metal spoon into the batter mixture. Do this gently and make sure you use a metal spoon, since this keeps the air in. (Using a wooden spoon knocks the air out and you will end up with a much denser, flatter cake).
- Scoop the cake mixture into the lined tin, then lay the caramalised lemon slices on top, overlapping them down the centre of the cake. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes until it has risen and is a light golden brown. Insert a metal skewer to see if it is ready. If it comes out clean, then the cake is done. (If the skewer looks a bit sticky then the cake will need to cook for a few more minutes).
- When cooked, remove the cake from the oven and set aside.
- Stir the demerara into the reserved lemon juice; (you have remembered to save the lemon juice, haven't you?)
- Spike the top of the cake with a skewer then drizzle over the lemon and sugar liquid.
- Leave to cool.
- While this makes a great tea-time cake, it also can serve as a pudding, served with a dollop of double cream, crème fraîche or creamy Greek yogurt. In summer, I would jazz it up with some fruit - raspberries and blueberries by choice.