A plain lemon cake is a joy to eat fresh from the oven. It speaks summer like no other afternoon treat during hot days. Just like old fashioned lemonade it has the ability to lift your spirits and make the heat bearable as you have a cool, citrus, spongy slice sitting on a wooden deck for afternoon tea. I love to see big, fat and shiny lemons starting to do the rounds in market stalls as we head into thunderstorm season and the gradual heating up of November in Sydney.
We used to have three very established citrus trees in our backyard. Age has slowly taken its toll on all three of them, the last one taking its dying breath last week. Even though I know they are just plants, I can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness for what they had meant to us. In honour of them we recently planted two Meyer lemons in gigantic Tuscan style terracotta pots in our front patio. And one of them has started flowering. As we take down the last dead citrus stump next week, we will usher in two gorgeous new fledgeling citrus trees that will come to mean a lot in the coming years.
I love baking with lemon. My ordinary butter cakes are always spiked with grated lemon rind. But this pure lemon cake is something else. It is tangy and tart and bursting with happy flavour. Fresh organic eggs and plump juicy lemons will ensure that your cake achieves the cheery sunny demeanour that is so vital to a lemon cake. It must be yellow. Not overly so, but a muted canary shade. Eat plain dusted with icing sugar (as the base recipe is not very sweet to begin with) or sandwiched with a fantastic mascarpone cream that will balance the tartness.
- 125 g butter, softened
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
- 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- finely grated rind of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base of a deep 20cm cake pan with baking paper.
Beat butter, rind and sugar in a bowl until creamy and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift flour over the egg mixture. Add juice and beat for a few seconds. Add milk and beat until well combined.
Pour in prepared tin. Tap the tin on the worktop to settle the batter. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 50-60 minutes until golden and cooked through when tested with a skewer.
Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes. When just barely warm, turn the cake out onto a cake plate or wire rack and cool completely.