Monday, 17 May 2010

A cake for Aunty Celia and her best friend Pat ...

As many regular readers will know, I love nothing better than an excuse to bake a cake. One such opportunity presented itself to me recently with a visit from Lily and Arthur’s Great Aunty Celia and her best friend Pat. These two lovely ladies adore Lily and Arthur and often make a trip down to the coast to see them, either with the WI [a slight detour when on the annual Brighton trip], or as on this occasion, they make their own way down from West London on the train. They always arrive, without fail, with [far too much] chocolate for the children, and I, without fail, bake a cake.

Now Great Aunty Celia is rather traditional in her ways when it comes to food. She won’t really dabble in anything from outside this islands shores – so you have to really think traditional English fare that hasn’t been tampered with in any way to give it a modern contemporary twist… so I accept that restraint is called for.

A classic recipe that ceases to fail is a must, something with an air of afternoon tea and village fetes perhaps? Then it just has to be a Lemon-Syrup Loaf Cake. This is a recipe, I have made on so many occasions that I have lost count, is from the wonderful baking bible ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ by Nigella Lawson. There is no excusing that it is a plain looking cake, but this buttery sponge, moist with citrus, just melts in your mouth …. heavenly!

I am pleased to report that both Great Aunty Celia and Pat gave the cake exceedingly good merit. From two life-long members of the WI, I’ll accept that as a shining complement!

Louise x

Serves 8 – 10

For the cake:

125g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
175g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
4 tbsp milk
450g loaf tin, buttered and lined

For the syrup:
juice of 1 and a half lemons [about 4 tbsps]
100g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/GM 4, and butter and line your loaf tin well.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar, and add the eggs and lemon zest, beating them in well.

3. Add the flour and salt, folding in gently but thoroughly, and then the milk.

4. Spoon into the prepared loaf tin and put in the oven. Bake for 45mins, or until golden, risen in the middle (although it will sink a little on cooling) and an inserted cake-tester comes out clean.

5. While the cake is cooking, get on with the syrup: put the lemon juice and sugar into a small saucepan and heat gently so that the sugar dissolves.

6. As soon as the cake is out of the oven, puncture the top of the loaf all over with the cake tester or suitable implement. Pour over the syrup, trying to let the middle adsorb it as well as the sides, then leave it to soak up the rest. Don’t try and take the cake out of the tin until it is completely cold, as it will be sodden with syrup and might crumble.

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