Lemon Drizzle Cake

Revisiting a Classic

Just this week someone mysteriously left a bag of large plump lemons on the table in my office.  Whether a thoughtful gesture or a reminder to rejuvenate this blog, they beckoned with possibility.   When I asked my just graduated from high school son what he would like to make of these lemons, he replied wistfully, “You know lemon cake you used to make?”  and it was settled.  I enjoyed reminiscing with him about how I discovered this classic recipe while he extracted every last drop of juice in the lemons and made the drizzle.   I hope you will be able to enjoy a slice with summer berries and share some fond memories over the aroma and deliciousness that is Lemon Drizzle Cake.

Republished from Get Your Drizzle On, 5/12/12

When I added a slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake to my lunch tray at the V & A Cafe of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, I wasn’t even that hungry.  But, hey, the name of the cake was, well, so darn cute!  Besides, I figured, I have this lemon blog which makes me somewhat obligated to sample such aptly named treats for my, uh-hem,  readers.  For kicks, I googled the cake title when I got back home and was surprised to find that more than being cutely named, Lemon Drizzle Cake is actually a British classic.   I researched and reworked the recipe, working primarily off one from  BBC Good Food, and have included it here both in standard and metric with the help of this great conversion tool.    I have made the recipe several times since and always to rave reviews.   Easy, dependable, and delicious–the hallmarks of a classic.

American readers will notice two ingredients not often called for in recipes from the states: caster sugar and self-rising flour.  Caster sugar is the name of a very fine sugar in Britain, so named because the grains are small enough to fit though a sugar “caster” or sprinkler.  It is sold as “superfine” or “baker’s” sugar in the United States.  Because of its fineness, it dissolves more quickly than regular white sugar, and so is especially useful in meringues and cold liquids.  To make  your own, grind granulated sugar for a couple of minutes in a food processor, letting the sugar dust settle before opening.

Caster Sugar is sold as Baker’s Sugar in the United States. Self-rising flour keeps measuring simple as it already includes the baking powder and salt.

Self-rising flour (or “self-raising” as it is called in the UK) is simply flour with baking soda evenly distributed throughout.  You can also make this ingredient at home by adding about 1  teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt per cup of flour, blending well.  Personally, I like the ease of having a bag of self-rising flour on hand–no measuring spoons or extra ingredients to be hampered by, which just adds to the ease of this recipe.

Lemon Drizzle Cake  is lovely with tea, coffee, or a tall glass of milk.  Increase the lemon quotient by adding a dollop of lemon curd atop each slice.  For an after dinner dessert to die for, serve with mixed berries, fresh whipped cream and a flute of chilled Lambrusco or champagne.  Lemon Drizzle Cake has easily become my favorite London import.  I hope it will become your “go to” recipe, too.  All it takes is butter, sugar, flour, eggs and three to four large lemons!

Lemon Drizzle Cake
1 1/2 c. butter/3 sticks/340 grams
1 1/2 c. caster sugar/340 grams
6 eggs
3 Tbs.finely lemon peel/60 ml
2 1/2 c. self-rising flour/312 grams
The Drizzle
2/3 c. lemon juice/about 5 oz.
2/3 caster sugar/150 grams
1-2 Tbs. finely grated lemon peel/20-40 ml

Method

1.  Pre-heat oven to 160 C/gas 4 or 325°F.

2.  Zest and juice three to four large lemons.

3.  For the batter, beat together  softened butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy, then add eggs, one at a time, slowly mixing through.  Gradually add in the self-rising flour, then add the finely grated lemon zest and mix until well combined.

4.  Line two large or three small loaf pans with parchment paper (my favorite new tip), then spoon in the mixture and level  top.

Leave parchment paper handles for easy removal of cakes when done baking.

5.   Bake for 50-55 mins until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

6.  While the cake is baking, mix together the lemon juice, zest, and caster sugar for the drizzle.

7.  When cake is golden on top, remove from oven and place pans on cooling racks.   Make three lengthwise slits about 1/2-1 inch deep on top of cake.  Spoon drizzle into slits and then overtop entire cake while still warm.

8.  When completely cool, pick up by edges of parchment and remove from pans.  Slice and serve. Will keep in an airtight container for three to four days, or freeze for up to one month.

Lemon Drizzle Cake makes a bite-sized appearance, Victorian style, at the Portobello Market in West London’s Notting Hill.

Portobello Market Sign

Serious crowds throng the market on Saturday afternoons.

The Elgin Crescent and Talbot Road section of the Portobello Market is where crowds thin out and colorful characters peddle their produce to locals.

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

The secret’s in the pudding!

I love recipes with secret ingredients!  This one calls for butterscotch instant pudding mix in the batter and receives rave reviews for being “outrageously delicious and moist.”  I use rum extract instead of vanilla, nutmeg in lieu of cloves, more canned pumpkin and then top it all off with my very own lemon cream cheese frosting which contains a secret ingredient of its own: lemon emulsion.  Add a slice of crystallized ginger to the icing on the cake and your taste buds will zing!  Great for cupcakes, loaves or both.  This recipe is sure to become a fall classic.  Just beware: this is one secret you won’t be able to keep!

Butterscotch pudding mix, pumpkin purée, spices, and rum extract make a perfectly moist cake that tastes of fall.  Crystallized ginger and Loverbean’s Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting “take the cake” to the next level.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix

2 tsps. baking soda

Fill muffin tins fairly full. Makes 24 or more cupcakes or 18 cupcakes and one large pumpkin loaf.

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 c. butter, room temperature

1 c. white sugar

1 c. packed brown sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp. rum extract

2 c. canned pumpkin purée (purchase a 29 oz. can of Libby’s and use or freeze the leftover pumpkin for a batch of Chef John’s Pumpkin Pancakes!)

Loverbean’s Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

crystallized ginger slices*

Directions

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 24 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

2. Whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, and nutmeg in a bowl; set aside.

2. Beat butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. 

3. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next.  Beat in rum extract and pumpkin purée with the last egg.  Stir in the flour mixture on low until just incorporated.  

4. With a large spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins until nearly full.  There will likely be a little batter left over.  If reserving some batter for a loaf, line a large loaf pan with parchment paper before adding batter.

5. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes for cupcakes and 40 minutes for a loaf. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.  Cool completely before topping with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe below.

Makes 24+ cupcakes or 18 cupcakes and one large loaf.

While lemon juice provides moisture and a hint of lemon, it is  Lemon Emulsion that gives this cream cheese frosting its full lemon flavor.  Emulsions are favored over extracts by professional bakers as they have a more potent, robust flavor that won’t bake out as they are alcohol free.  Available online at LorAnn Oils and at bakery supply stores such as Kitchen Collection.

Loverbean’s Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Emulsions are a necessity for any baker who wishes to infuse intense flavor into goodies and Lemon Emulsion is a must for lemon lovers.

1, 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 c. butter, room temperature

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. lemon emulsion

4 c. powdered sugar

Directions

1. Place butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat on medium high for two minutes.

2. Add 2 c. powdered sugar a cup at a time, mixing well.

3. Mix in lemon juice and lemon emulsion and then add remaining 2 c. powdered sugar a cup at a time, mixing well between each cup.

4. Use a wide tip to pipe frosting on cupcakes from outer edge to center in a swirl.

5. Garnish with a slice of crystallized ginger.

A perfectly moist pumpkin cake is topped off with lemony cream cheese frosting and a sliver of crystallized ginger.

This recipe is adapted from allrecipes Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes which calls for 1/3 c. finely chopped crystallized ginger in the batter.  As I had the palates of old and young alike in mind, I chose to use the ginger as a garnish.  Not everyone appreciates the sweet heat of ginger.  In addition, some of the reviews I read also noted that the crystallized ginger may have made the cake a bit gummy.  Next time round, I will insert a small piece of crystallized ginger in the center of a few cupcakes before baking.  Yum!

Pumpkin Pancakes for a Blustery Pooh-Bear Kind of Day

This weekend the weather has turned.  Blue skies have been traded in for a gray mist and much needed rain.  Relentless winds whip branches and leaves off trees.  It is a blustery, Pooh-bear kind of day.  While the wind makes for a restless sleep for me, I check in on my teenage son and see that he is resting soundly.  I know just what I want to make him for breakfast. Letting sleeping giants lie, I slip out to treat myself to a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Latte and to purchase canned pumpkin, a lemon, and real maple syrup.

Pumpkin Pancakes are perfect for a fall breakfast or Halloween dinner!

I’ve had Pumpkin Pancakes on the brain all week after a search for recipes with pumpkin and lemon as ingredients led me to Chef John’s Pumpkin Pancakes.  I follow the recipe exactly, taking heed to spread the thick batter for each pancake with the back of a spoon as opposed to thinning with more milk.  The results are stunning: full of pumpkin flavor and “way better than regular pancakes” according to my taste tester.  While our pumpkin patch days may be over, there is no doubt that we will have many more Pumpkin Pancake mornings.

Chef John’s Pumpkin Pancakes

2 c. all-purpose flour

Whisk together pumpkin purée, egg oil, lemon juice, zest, spices, and milk before gently folding into dry ingredients.

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1 Tbs. white sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. canned pumpkin purée

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

Pure maple syrup is a must. We were also fortunate to have Dakin Farm’s Maple Butter on hand.

1 egg

1 1/2 c. whole milk

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 Tbs. lemon juice

2 tsp. grated lemon zest

1 tsp. vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Combine flour, brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and whisk together for two minutes to aerate.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin purée, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, egg, milk, 2 Tbs. of vegetable oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
  3. Mix in the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Do not overmix.
  4. Coat skillet or griddle with 1 tsp. vegetable oil over medium heat.
  5. Pour batter into skillet and spread out with back of spoon.
  6.  Cook pancakes until golden brown on each side.

Makes 8 large pancakes to serve four…or one growing boy.

Use back of spoon to spread batter for each pancake as opposed to thinning with milk which dilutes the pumpkin flavor.

Once Bitten Twice Shy Lemon-Basil-Macadamia Nut Pesto

I call my sister to see how she’s doing.  The past few months have been rough between setting up a new household, shuffling kids back and forth, and dealing with all the emotional ups and downs of substantial change.  And in spite of breaking two lamps in the move,  countless hours on the phone and still no internet connection, a clogged vacuum from ridding the van of hay for the miniature pony, she is still being industrious—a family  trait—and making homemade pesto from bunches of homegrown basil brought in earlier that day by a coworker.

“I love pesto!  Do you like pesto?” she gushes!  I can practically hear her inhaling the basil as it is being blended with pine nuts and olive oil.  I also hear the whir of the blender in the background.   Ouch!

“Yes,” I agree, holding my cell phone at a distance and yelling into the speaker phone.  “I love pesto, too.”

“And pine nuts!” she continues.  Whirrrrrrr-whirrrr!  Double Ouch!

Get creative with your pesto ingredients.  Lemon juice and zest are a must for bright flavor and color!

Pine nuts, however, I cannot so enthusiastically endorse.  You see, the thought of pine nuts transports me back to a time years when a mysterious metallic taste in my mouth plagues me for weeks.  At its worst when drinking my beloved hot coffee, nothing, absolutely nothing tastes good!  I am sure I am destined to a life of disturbed taste buds.  Payback for….what?  So, doing what we all do when facing a question we don’t know the answer to, I Google.

Within seconds I am one of them and have a new definition of PMS to boot: Pine Mouth Sufferers.  “Damn You Pine Nuts” becomes my best new Facebook friend, home to tons of other folks who share my symptoms.  Here I learn that pickle juice and hot sauce are palatable.   I also learn that the Pine Nut, Pinus armandii, a smaller, duller, and more rounded variety than typical pine nuts is thought to be the culprit (a 2011 study in the Journal of Toxicology finds results consistent with this hypothesis).

Chinese White Pine seeds are harvested and sold as pine nuts. These nuts are responsible for “Pine Mouth Syndrome”. Damn you pine nuts.

Side note: Others suggest the aftertaste could be a difference in how people experience the nut (sort of like how some people’s genes make them prone to odoriferous pee after eating asparagus or some people’s genes allow them to detect the smell while others’ do not!?!).

In any event, while I am not ready to endorse the pine nut anytime soon, I certainly don’t have the heart to douse my sister’s enthusiasm.  Her industrious spirit inspires me  to face the large pot of basil I grew from seed with some sort of plan.  Heading to my Trader Joe’s after work, I buy olive oil and parmesan cheese and…not pine nuts, particularly after reading the new disclaimer on the package which warns:  Some individuals may experience a reaction to eating pine nuts, characterized by a lingering bitter or metallic taste.

Instead, I am drawn to the bag of comparably priced meaty macadamia nuts next to my metallic mouth nemesis.  Macadamia nuts have a creamy texture and mild nutty base perfect for canvasing pesto flavors.  Back up plan in place, I head home to begin my own whirring frenzy.

The fun thing about making pesto is that you don’t have to follow a recipe once you know the basic ingredients.  It’s really about adding and adjusting to your taste and being creative in the process.  Even so, I will share my approximate ratio of ingredients for this metallic free sister inspired batch.

Once Bitten Twice Shy Lemon-Basil-Macadamia Nut Pesto

Five cups or so loosely packed, washed basil leaves
10 oz. dry roasted macadamia nuts
12 oz. freshly shredded Parmesan Cheese
10 or more plump garlic cloves
Juice of two to three Meyer lemons and zest of one (wonderful for flavor and for keeping pesto a vibrant green)
One cup Olive Oil, more or less
Kosher salt to taste

My on-hand Acme Farms and Kitchens Produce Box additions: Green leafy parts of two to three large Swiss Chard leaves (avoid red stemmed variety for color aesthetics), one plump shallot, one large Poblano pepper.

With the exception of kosher salt, olive oil, and cheese, place all other ingredients in food processor.  Slowly add oil while blending. Lastly, blend in cheese and add salt a teaspoon at a time, sampling until desired taste with all ingredients is reached.

Great storage tip: Spray/coat ice-cube trays with canola or olive oil.  Spoon pesto into individual ice-cube wells and freeze.  Once frozen, remove from tray, wrap individually in foil and place in a freezer bag and return to freezer.  Remove a few cubes at a time, defrost, and add to hot steaming pasta for an easy and delicious pesto pasta dinner come winter.

Yield: Three dozen cubes.

Pesto stores well in the freezer.  Seal individual cubes in foil and freeze for useon pizza, pasta, bruschetta or in your favorite Quiche recipe come winter.

Perhaps you have been lucky enough to find a reliable source of pine nuts that don’t leave a bad taste in your mouth–or maybe you are just genetically blessed.  As for me, I’ll be playing it safe from now on.  Once bitten, twice shy.  I think my sister would agree.

Lemon Apple Slaw and Aunt Betty’s Barbeque* Beef

The first day of fall and my Akane and Liberty apple trees are gleaned of their fruit.  That means more apples than I can eat!  I make mention of apple pie but my son is not in the mood for sweets, he says, having filled up on Cowboy Cookies pulled from the freezer.  He is set on having Lemon Chicken again for dinner, however, and the only produce I have on hand besides apples, is a lovely little head of organic green cabbage and, of course, plenty of lemons.

A simple autumnal slaw: cabbage, apples, a lemon, mayo and sugar.

Looks like it’s time for an autumnal slaw.  And, in honor of the equinox, I use equal amounts of cabbage and apples.  🙂  It’s what I’ll be bringing to an 80th birthday party luncheon next weekend as an accompaniment to take our favorite fried chicken from the neighborhood pub.  Yum!  Next time ’round, I’ll make my Aunt Betty’s Barbeque* (see bonus recipe below) to go with.  I can taste it now…

Lemon Apple Slaw

4 cups green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
4 cups chopped apple with peel on
1 c. real mayonnaise
Zest and juice of one lemon (approximately 2-3 Tbs. juice and 2 tsp. zest)
1 Tbs. sugar
1. Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, zest, and sugar.  Blend until sugar is dissolved.  
2. Mix dressing with cabbage before chopping apples. 
3. Toss apples with cabbage and dressing one cup at a time to prevent apples from browning. 
4. Cover and chill in refrigerator for two hours before serving. 
5. Plate on cabbage leaves and garnish with walnuts and a wedge of lemon  if desired.

Lemon Apple Slaw.  A crisp, zingy accompaniment to your favorite fried chicken or barbeque.

 

Note: This slaw is very versatile.  It can be served as a meal in itself with the addition of a can of albacore tuna, for example.  Like its Waldorf cousin, green grapes and diced celery can be included as well.  The tart and tangy flavor will also go great with any barbeque, particularly my Aunt Betty’s Famous Beef Barbeque, bonus recipe below:

Aunt Betty’s Famous Beef Barbeque (exactly as she has written)

6 lb. boneless chuck roast

1 or 2 large onions

3 bay leaves

3 c. water

Bake at 350 degrees at least 3 hours or until meat easily pulls apart.  Shred, reserving liquid.

Sauce

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

2 1/2 cup liquid from meat

1/2 c dark brown sugar

1/2 c. clear Karo syrup

1/2-1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 Tbs. dried mustard

Simmer 15 min.; pour over meat; heat.  Aunt Betty says, “I’ve found this makes enough sauce for 12 lbs. of meat.”  Freezes well. 

*Aunt Betty spells barbecue with a “q” and that is correct, too!

Let me remind you of…Lemon Chicken

But first…I shall recount my day.

It is Saturday.  At 9:30 AM my 17-year-old son comes into my room, sits next to me on the bed where I am still sleeping, and–while cuddling the cat–informs me that he has  been up since 7:30 AM, has showered and washed his hair, and is ready to “do something.”  Dressed in the new long sleeve American Eagle shirt that I got him (at 40% off on the back to school say, mind you), he is looking sharp.  And awake.   So, I head down stairs to make a cup of coffee and find that he has already unpacked my Starbucks VIA (I gave up on coffee makers long ago) and put the little packets in the stainless steel creamer pitcher from my grandmother, just like I do.  Clearly, he has already had his cup.

While sipping on my coffee, I make a few calls to family member on the other coast and catch my mother first.

“It is a beautiful day and Drew and I are going to go do something,” I tell her.

“Isn’t it a blessing to be able to say that and with confidence?” she asks.

It is, I agree.  A beautiful day.  Feeling better.  Mother and son time.

Soon after, we head downtown to the Farmer’s Market where we have an early Ethiopian lunch.  The most tender chicken, golden potatoes, and red sauce with nutmeg and cardamom to soak up in the spongy flatbread or injera. 

A delicious Ethiopian lunch at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market.

Tummies full, we stroll through the market, stopping to smell Red Barn’s heavenly lavender soap slices (made by a now retired math teacher) and admiring the heirloom tomatoes at Tiny’s Organic.  It is a beautiful,  warm early fall day and so we head on to our next destination: Stimpson’s Nature Reserve.

Once onto the trail, we pass the beaver pond and hike up a steady incline for a three-mile loop that will take us deep into the forests so typical of the Pacific Northwest.  Tall cedars and hemlocks line a trail that has become dusty after a dry summer…okay, that parts not so typical.   Sunlight streams through the dense forest.

Waiting for Mom to catch up.

Next on our agenda?  My famous Cowboy Cookies, per his request.  (Bonus recipe below, although no lemon is involved).  🙂  Once home, he settles onto his computer, I find a move on HBO (Sommersby) and the baking begins.

A couple of hours and garage cleaning spree later, it is nearing time for dinner.  We contemplate going to the store for some salmon, but he suggests we just “make something we have here.”  Smart boy.

I check the freezer.  “Mini-tacos, tilapia with Cajun seasoning, or chicken?” I offer.

“Chicken,” he replies.  Very smart boy.

I take two skinless/boneless chicken breasts out to thaw and know just what I will make–after we return from walking the dogs, that is.

Two tired and happy dogs later, I wash my hands in warm, sudsy water and am ready to get cookin’.   I scrub and quarter the Yukon Gold Potatoes and rinse and slice the narrow leafed Lacinato Kale from my bi-weekly Acme Farms and Kitchen local and organic Produce Box.  Both go into pots of boiling salted water.

“It’s going to get loud,” I warn before pounding and tenderizing the chicken breasts till they double in size.  I set half a stick of butter in a large skillet to melt while juicing a Meyer lemon. Some of the juice gets poured over the pulverized side of the chicken so that it soaks into the nooks and crannies and the rest gets added the butter in the skillet.  After flouring the chicken breasts on both sides, I place them in the pan to brown.   I sprinkle a little garlic salt on one side and when ready to turn, a little kosher salt on the other.  When the chicken breasts are nearly done, I add a few fresh rosemary leaves from my herb garden to the chicken breasts.

Meanwhile, more butter, kosher salt, and rosemary leaves are added to the potatoes.  The kale is plated with a dab of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.

We eat.  He is hungry and quiet.  Soon, however, he comments, “The chicken is good!”

“It’s easy,” I tell him.  “Lemon Chicken.”

“But what’s that flavor?” he asks.

“The rosemary?” I suggest.

“No, that flavor on the chicken?” he probes, indicating that something more must be making the chicken so tasty.

I take another bite and can taste what he means.

“Fresh squeezed lemon juice,” I tell him.  “It’s amazing how well pure lemon juice goes with chicken,” I say and he nods in agreement.

I promise to show him how to make it next time.  So easy.  So good.

He cleans his plate.

“There is more of everything,” I tell him.

“I think I’ll just have a little dessert now,” he says.

That means Mom’s homemade Cowboy Cookies and Grandma’s Cake Batter Ice Cream.

What else is a growing boy to do?

Cowboy Cookies
1 c. sweet cream butter with salt (microwaved for 15-seconds)
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 c. old-fashioned or steel-cut oats
1 c. rice crispies
1 c. sweetened flaked coconut (optional but chewy good)
1 c. Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cream brown sugar, sugar, and butter.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla and beat till well-blended.  Add flour one cup at a time with soda and salt.  Stir in oatmeal, rice crispies, coconut, and chocolate chips.  Drop by 1 1/2″ cookie scoops onto baking stone or greased cookie sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes.  When you smell ’em they’re done!  Makes three dozen yummy cookies.

Chewy cowboy Cookies. Chocolate, coconut, rice crispies and oats.

Get Your Drizzle On!

 

When I added a slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake to my lunch tray at the V & A Cafe of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, I wasn’t even that hungry.  But, hey, the name of the cake was, well, so darn cute!  Besides, I figured, I have this lemon blog which makes me somewhat obligated to sample such aptly named treats for my, uh-hem,  readers.  For kicks, I googled the cake title when I got back home and was surprised to find that more than being cutely named, Lemon Drizzle Cake is actually a British classic.   I researched and reworked the recipe, working primarily off one from  BBC Good Food, and have included it here both in standard and metric with the help of this great conversion tool.    I have made the recipe several times since and always to rave reviews.   Easy, dependable, and delicious–the hallmarks of a classic. 

American readers will notice two ingredients not often called for in recipes from the states: caster sugar and self-rising flour.  Caster sugar is the name of a very fine sugar in Britain, so named because the grains are small enough to fit though a sugar “caster” or sprinkler.  It is sold as “superfine” or “baker’s” sugar in the United States.  Because of its fineness, it dissolves more quickly than regular white sugar, and so is especially useful in meringues and cold liquids.  To make  your own, grind granulated sugar for a couple of minutes in a food processor, letting the sugar dust settle before opening.

Caster Sugar is sold as Baker’s Sugar in the United States. Self-rising flour keeps measuring simple as it already includes the baking powder and salt.

Self-rising flour (or “self-raising” as it is called in the UK) is simply flour with baking soda evenly distributed throughout.  You can also make this ingredient at home by adding about 1  teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt per cup of flour, blending well.  Personally, I like the ease of having a bag of self-rising flour on hand–no measuring spoons or extra ingredients to be hampered by, which just adds to the ease of this recipe.

Lemon Drizzle Cake  is lovely with tea, coffee, or a tall glass of milk.  Increase the lemon quotient by adding a dollop of lemon curd atop each slice.  For an after dinner dessert to die for, serve with mixed berries, fresh whipped cream and a flute of chilled Lambrusco or champagne.  Lemon Drizzle Cake has easily become my favorite London import.  I hope it will become your “go to” recipe, too.

Lemon Drizzle Cake
1 1/2 c. butter/3 sticks/340 grams
1 1/2 c. caster sugar/340 grams
6 eggs
3 Tbs.finely lemon peel/60 ml
2 1/2 c. self-rising flour/312 grams
The Drizzle
2/3 c. lemon juice/about 5 oz.
2/3 caster sugar/150 grams
1-2 Tbs. finely grated lemon peel/20-40 ml

Method

1.  Pre-heat oven to 160 C/gas 4 or 325°F. 

2.  Zest and juice three to four large lemons.

3.  For the batter, beat together  softened butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy, then add eggs, one at a time, slowly mixing through.  Gradually add in the self-rising flour, then add the finely grated lemon zest and mix until well combined.

4.  Line two large or three small loaf pans with parchment paper (my favorite new tip), then spoon in the mixture and level  top. 

Leave parchment paper handles for easy removal of cakes when done baking.

5.   Bake for 50-55 mins until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

6.  While the cake is baking, mix together the lemon juice, zest, and caster sugar for the drizzle.  

7.  When cake is golden on top, remove from oven and place pans on cooling racks.   Make three lengthwise slits about 1/2-1 inch deep on top of cake.  Spoon drizzle into slits and then overtop entire cake while still warm.  

8.  When completely cool, pick up by edges of parchment and remove from pans.  Slice and serve. Will keep in an airtight container for three to four days, or freeze for up to one month.

Lemon Drizzle Cake makes a bite-sized appearance, Victorian style, at the Portobello Market in West London’s Notting Hill.

    Portobello Market Sign

Serious crowds throng the market on Saturday afternoons.

    

The Elgin Crescent and Talbot Road section of the Portobello Market is where crowds thin out and colorful characters peddle their produce to locals.

The Little Cabbage that Could

Brussels sprouts on stalks

Brussels sprouts on stalks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brussels sprouts, much like beets and okra, are often maligned as vegetables.  Well, perhaps vegetables are maligned in general, but this trio is, specifically.  Nevertheless, they are consistently favorites of mine.  The Brussel sprout is particularly peculiar, especially when one sees them sold by the stalk for the first time.  The Brussel sprout is but a cultivar of it wild counterpart, the cabbage, and is grown for its edible, miniature cabbage-like buds.

Brussel sprouts and garlic slices in a large skillet.

I first learned to take Brussel sprouts from the traditional salt boil with butter to a sautéed version from a former friend.  And yes, there is a story there. Adding lemon juice, however, was the Brussel sprout talking.  And the Brussel sprout knows best.

Browned Brussel Sprouts with Lemon

5-6 cups Brussel sprouts

Garlic cloves

Olive oil and butter

Kosher salt

Lemon juice and zest

Brussel sprouts, trimmed of stems and outer leaves, with garlic cloves.

Directions:  Rinse and trim stems and outer leaves of Brussel sprouts.  Cut in half.  Peel and slice several cloves of garlic.  Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet along with the halved Brussel sprouts.  Toss sprouts with oil.  Add 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp. Kosher salt, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, and 1 tsp. lemon zest.   Cover and cook on high heat five minutes.   After five minutes, remove lid and stir sprouts which will have begun to brown.  Add two tablespoons butter (or more olive oil) and cook uncovered, face down,  for an additional five minutes.

Transfer to serving plate and top with fresh zest.  Squeeze fresh juice oer top and serve.  Add a wedge of lemon for garnish and additional flavor! If my seventeen year old son thinks these sprouts are the perfect accompaniment for turkey breast, twice-baked potatoes, and gravy, don’t you think they could find favor in your next meal?

Brussels with garlic and lemon.

And now, to increase your appreciation of the little cabbage that could, consider this (from Wikipedia, of course):

  • Forerunners to modern Brussels sprouts were likely cultivated in ancient Rome.
  • Brussels sprouts as we now know them were grown possibly as early as the 13th century in what is now Belgium.The first written reference dates to 1587. During the 16th century, they enjoyed a popularity in the southern Netherlands that eventually spread throughout the cooler parts of Northern Europe.
  • The edible sprouts grow like buds in helical patterns along the side of long thick stalks of approximately 60 to 120 cm (24 to 47 in) in height.
  • They contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre. Moreover, they are believed to protect against colon cancer, because they contain sinigrin.
  • The largest producers are the Netherlands, at 82,000 metric tons, and Germany, at 10,000 tons. The United Kingdon has production comparable to that of the Netherlands, but it is not generally exported.
  • Production of Brussels sprouts in the United States began in the 18th century, when French Settlers brought them to Louisiana.
  • Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello.
  • The first plantings in California began in the 1920s, with significant production beginning in the 1940s.
  • Most of the United States production is in California,with a smaller percentage of the crop grown in Skagit Valley, Washington, where cool springs, mild summers and rich soil abounds.

Lemony Olive Oil Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

lemony olive oil banana bread

Lemony olive oil banana bread with chocolate chunks and caramel lemon glaze.

I have been dying to make this lemony olive oil chocolate chunk banana bread, but had to wait a good week for my bananas to ripen.  Finally, the bananas could practically mash themselves and I set to work. 

In case you are interested, the original recipe calls for all bittersweet chocolate.  I chose to use half and half dark so the sweetness and flavor of the chocolate comes through.  I also added more zest to the cake and glaze.  As you can see, I used a buttered and floured bundt pan but you could use two medium greased and floured loaf pans as well.  

Moving on to the glaze, I thought the brown sugar a little grainy so decided to add 1 Tbs. of butter and caramelize the brown sugar.  I got a little carried away though, and boiled mine too long which resulted in a chewy candy like shell.  You can also use all confectioners sugar for a more traditional icing. I can tell you though, lemon and caramel are to die for together and I will definitely be exploring this combination in the future! 

But for now, here is a hearty, healthy banana bread with a lemon twist.  Wrap a large slice up in brown waxed paper, tuck it in your knapsack, and enjoy as a snack after a bike ride or stroll through the park.   Even better on day two.

Lemony Olive Oil Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

For the batter:

  • 1 cup / 4.5 oz/ 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup / 5 oz / 140 g whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 58 g coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 58 g coarsely chopped milk chocolate
  • 1/3 cup / 80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups / 12 oz / 340 g mashed, VERY ripe bananas (~3 bananas)
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml plain, whole milk or Greek yogurt
  • Zest of 1 lemon minus 1 tsp.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Banana Bread Batter

Wet and dry ingredients before being folded together.

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup / 3 oz / 85 g sifted dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55 g confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. reserved lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. butter
Lemon Caramel Sauce

Lemon Caramel Sauce: When sauce comes to a boil, stir for 30 seconds and remove from heat. Cool just until thick enough to pour over bread.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and place rack in center.

Sift flours and baking soda into large bow.  Whisk in sugar and salt. Add the chocolate pieces and combine well.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, mix together olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, zest, and vanilla.  Pour banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until light golden brown, about 40-45 minutes. Test with toothpick and remove as soon as nearly done to keep bread moist.

Transfer pan to wire rack.  Cool for 10 minutes then turn loaf out.  Cool completely.

Bake 40-45 minutes until lightly golden and toothpick inserted comes clean. Perfection!

When cake is cool, prepare the glaze. In a bowl, whisk together the sugars and the lemon juice until smooth.  Transfer to small saucepan and add 1 Tbs. butter.  Cook and stir for one to two minutes over medium-high heat, just enough to melt brown sugar and reach a boil.  Stir for 30 more seconds.  Take care not to boil too long as sauce will harden like candy. Remove from heat and cool just until glaze has thickened enough to drizzle over top of bread.

Lemon Banana Bread

A slice of lemony olive oil chocolate chunk banana bread with caramel lemon glaze. Perfect with a cold glass of milk.

 

Adapted from Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make, Hyperion, October, 2011