The ideal springtime bake, lemon drizzle cake is a classic for a reason – so here are three recipes to try if you love a sticky, citrusy sponge.
With the arrival of spring, the return of daylight saving time and the fact that we’re now allowed to gather with five of our favourite people outside, there have been more reasons to smile than usual in the past week. Perhaps the universe is compensating in some way for all the stay-at-home restrictions, because just as lockdown rules were relaxed, many parts of the UK enjoyed a mini heatwave. Rejoice!
Taking these seasonal changes into consideration, it feels only right that we switch up our culinary routines. Naturally, the sunshine makes us want to eat every meal outside – although the warm bowls of crumble we’ve been devouring throughout winter now don’t feel quite right for dessert. What we need is something that will thread effortlessly into our lives and move us onto new baking adventures; something like lemon drizzle cake.
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Light, sticky and sweet yet tart, drizzle cake is the kind of creation that calls to mind village summer fetes, WI bake sales and afternoon tea. It’s a bite of pure nostalgia, which feels appropriate given that we’ve been drawn to comfort foods over the past year that remind us of another place and time. Drizzle cakes are also refreshingly simple. You simply bung your ingredients in a bowl or blender, mix and bake – there’s little else to it.
If you’re a diehard lemon drizzle fan, the moreish recipes ahead offer twists on the classic recipe. Melissa Forte’s sophisticated Italian-inspired drizzle loaf blends the classic zesty sponge with pine nuts, almonds and marzipan. Alternatively, Katy Beskow’s vegan lemon drizzle squares are ideal for sharing – and extremely portable, if you want to pack them up and take them to the park for a picnic.
For something a little different, meanwhile, try Clive Goudercourt’s gin and tonic cake. A lime drizzle loaf infused with the flavours of the much-loved cocktail, it’s a citrusy, syrupy and celebratory recipe. Cheers!
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Melissa Forte’s loaf al limone pinoli e mandorle (lemon and pine nut drizzle loaf)
Melissa says: “I have yet to meet a person who is not addicted to a good slice of moist lemon drizzle cake, and here is the classic version with a twist added in the form of pine nuts. This simple but delicious loaf, with its tangy, fresh flavours, will not fail to impress.”
- 230g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 115g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 250g caster sugar
- finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 225g marzipan, kneaded until smooth and cut into small pieces
- 5 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- 75g chopped almonds
- 75g pine nuts, plus extra to decorate
- icing sugar, for dusting
For the lemon drizzle:
- 80ml lemon juice
- 250g granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter the base and sides of a 1lb loaf tin and line with baking parchment.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and, using a balloon whisk, stir to combine, then set aside.
Put the sugar, lemon zest and juice in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a mixing bowl and use electric hand-held beaters, and beat on a low speed to coat the sugar nicely. Add the butter and beat until combined, then add the marzipan and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Now add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.
Beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat just to combine; do not over-beat. Finally, fold in the chopped almonds. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, sprinkle the pine nuts over the surface and bake for 45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Invert the cooked loaf on to a wire rack. In a glass or jug, mix the lemon juice and sugar for the drizzle and pour over the warm loaf, allowing the drizzle to soak into the loaf completely. Dust with icing sugar and top with a few more pine nuts.
From The Italian Baker by Melissa Forte (£20, Quadrille), out now
Clive Goudercourt’s gin and tonic cake
Clive says: “Our chef at Powis Castle café has taken a lime drizzle loaf to another level with the addition of G&T! Quinine is essential to make tonic, and this was imported by Robert Clive of the East India Company. He lived at the castle in Powys and built up one of the largest collections of Indian treasures in the UK.”
Cuts into 10 slices
- 200g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
- 200g caster sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 200g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 lime, finely grated zest only
- 85ml gin
For the drizzle and icing:
- 125g caster sugar
- 120ml tonic water
- 3 ½ tbsp gin
- 1 lime, cut in half lengthways and very thinly sliced into half moons
- 100g icing sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin with a little butter then line the base and two long sides with a piece of non-stick baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition and spooning in a little of the flour to stop the mixture from separating.
Fold in the remaining flour, baking powder and lime zest, then gradually add the gin. Spoon into the prepared tin, level the surface and bake for 55–60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup: gently heat the caster sugar and tonic water in a small pan, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves.
Turn up the heat and boil for 1 minute. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the syrup into a small bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of the gin (this mixture will be used to soak the loaf later).
Add the thinly sliced lime to the remaining tonic syrup in the saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook for 5–7 minutes until the lime slices are soft and the syrup thickened. Spoon the lime slices over a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper, draining off some of the syrup and leave to cool.
As soon as the loaf comes out of the oven, poke holes into the top with a skewer and drizzle over the reserved gin syrup from the bowl.
Cool the loaf in the tin on a wire rack.
Make the icing by mixing together the sifted icing sugar with the remaining 1½ tablespoons gin until smooth. Remove the loaf from tin, transfer to a board and peel off the paper. Spoon over the icing and decorate with the lime slices. Leave the cake to set before slicing.
From National Trust Comfort Food by Clive Goudercourt & The National Trust Cafés (£20, Pavilion), out now
Katy Beskow's lemon drizzle squares
Katy says: “Light, zesty and made for sharing, these lemon drizzle squares will delight everyone who is lucky enough to try one! Mix up the flavours seasonally – try with unwaxed lime or orange.”
Makes about 8
- 250g self-raising flour
- 100g caster sugar
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 250ml sweetened soya milk
- 100ml sunflower oil
- 1 tsp good-quality vanilla extract
- zest and juice of ½ unwaxed lemon
For the drizzle:
- zest and juice of ½ unwaxed lemon
- 150g icing sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line a small baking tray (30x20cm) with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and baking powder. In a jug, whisk together the soya milk, sunflower oil, vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice. Fold the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.
Pour into the lined baking tray, then bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes until lightly golden and risen.
Meanwhile, prepare the drizzle. Mix together the lemon zest, juice and icing sugar in a small bowl until smooth.
Set aside at room temperature.
Remove the lemon cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes. Drizzle over the icing, then slice into even squares.
These cake squares will keep for up to 3 days when stored in a sealed container, in a cool, dry place.
Suitable for freezing (without the drizzle).
From Easy Vegan Bible: 200 Easiest Ever Plant-Based Recipes by Katy Beskow (£22, Quadrille), out now
Photography: Nassima Rothacker; Danny Bernardini; Luke Albert
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