Food Friday: Lemon Cake

I don’t bake often. I do love a good cake, but I find that baking can be frustratingly precise. My style of cooking is much more stream-of-consciousness than how-to manual – I get ideas for colours and flavours and add a dash of this, a pinch of that and voila! It’s like a very tasty kind of abstract art. Baking though, takes a lot more precision. Too much of one thing, too little of another and you suddenly have one giant wonky cookie instead of the twelve neat ones that had gone into the oven (I still don’t know what went wrong. It tasted good, but it was a long way from pretty).

So far though, this cake has been pretty-much failsafe. I was taught it almost 10 years ago now, by a lovely ex-boyfriend who was an absolute kitchen wizard. Luckily, it was a very amicable break-up and we’re still occasionally in touch, so I can still eat this cake without any feelings of resentment.

For this recipe, you will definitely need a set of kitchen scales. You’ll also need a love of lemony, sweet-tart goodness and very rich cake.



3 eggs (room temperature)

The exact same weight of the eggs in:

  • plain flour
  • butter (room temperature)
  • sugar

2 medium sized lemons (zest and juice)

Pinch of baking soda

Icing sugar


Weigh the eggs and note down their weight. Measure out exactly the same weight of sugar, flour and butter. Gently grate the zest of both lemons, either with one of those lovely lemon zesting tools or a standard grater.

In a bowl, beat together butter, sugar and lemon zest until well combined. Add lightly beaten eggs and mix until combined and slightly fluffy.

In another bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda.

Add the flour and baking soda to the butter/sugar/eggs and beat until the mixture is smooth.

Pour mixture into a well-greased cake tin and bake at 350F for 30 minutes (due to oven problems I had to cook mine for 45 minutes, with the last 15 covered by foil. It really didn’t do the cake any favours and I got a bit of sinkage in the middle). At this point, you can also lick the spoon, if that’s your thing.

Test whether cake is cooked with a knife or fork. Once this comes out clean, the cake is cooked and you can remove it from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

{For the Icing}

Squeeze the juice of 1 1/2 of the lemons into a bowl, saving the remaining half for emergencies. Gradually add icing sugar to the lemon juice, stirring steadily. Once the icing is becoming difficult to stir, but is still slightly runny (depending how juicy your lemons are, probably this will take 1-1 1/2 cups icing sugar), you’re ready to ice!

Spread icing thickly onto the cake, allowing it to run down the sides.

Slice and enjoy!

NB: I only had whole wheat flour on hand and I would not recommend this. I’d really suggest you use the plainest, whitest flour you can find. Your cake should look much more yellow and much less orange as a result.



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