I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest when I was looking for a good lemon bar recipe. This week I was after a simple cake to make, so I decided to give it a go. The recipe promises three distinct layers from a single batter, which intrigued me. Here’s what I ended up with.
The cake definitely has two distinct textures, a pleasantly squidgy bottom with a light and airy sponge on the top, pleasantly frangranced with lemon zest.
I’m not going to post the full recipe as I probably wouldn’t make this again in its current incarnation. The cake wasn’t lemony enough for my taste, and I think I would prefer the dense squidgy bit without the sponge on top. Basically, I wish I had made lemon bars! My quest for a good recipe continues…
For anyone who does make the recipe via the link, here are a few pics to show how the batter looked. Mine was definitely done in 40 minutes. The bottom was very puddingy, but if I’d left it any longer, the top would have dried out.
God knows we could do with a little more sweetness in the world.
I was trawling the web for a simple but crowd-pleasing cake recipe when I spotted this lemon lovely. I was doubly pleased when I realised it had the added bonus of allowing me to use up the polenta and ground almonds kicking around in my cupboard. It turned out really nicely- a colleague thought I had bought it somewhere pricey like Ottolenghi. This colleague clearly has a discerning palette as the original recipe is indeed adapted from Ottolenghi. The cake is pleasingly sharp, dense and buttery. The polenta adds some extra bite.
Makes one 20cm loaf cake
- 150g butter
- 105g caster sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly
- 1 lemon (zest and 6tsp juice)
- 90g instant polenta*
- 180g ground pistachios**
- 40g plain flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt (1/2 if you use unsalted butter)
*If you don’t have enough polenta in your cupboard, you can make up the weight with more plain flour
**These are not widely available, so you can either substitute ground almonds or grind pistachios yourself (I used a spice grinder as my hand mixer is broken)
For the glaze
- 3tbsp sugar
- Juice of one lemon
For the lemon icing
- Juice of half a lemon
- 150g icing sugar
- 50-80g pistachios, roughly chopped
1. Pre-heat oven to 170C. Grease a 20cm loaf tin.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until combined, around 1-2 mins
3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing to incorporate
4. Add the lemon zest and juice, polenta and pistachios
5. Sift remaining dry ingredients into the batter and stir until just combined
6. Transfer batter to prepared loaf tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a knife comes out clean.
7. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
8. Prepare the glaze/drizzle. In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice and sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved.
9. Pour the hot glaze over the still-warm cake, then leave to cool (still in the tin so the glaze doesn’t leak everywhere) completely.
10. Prepare the icing. Mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice. The icing should be pretty thick, but feel free to add a few drops of water if you feel it is too stiff.
11. Turn the cake out of the tin. The bottom side is likely to be the most presentable so leave it inverted.
12. Pour the icing over the top of the cake. Help it down the sides, particularly over any areas you want covered. Sprinkle the pistachios on top.
At this festive time, a little lemon can help cut through all the rich food of the season. I added ricotta to ensure that it wasn’t too virtuous. It is the season, after all. This cake is dense, with a texture quite similar to ricotta. It keeps well.
- 175g softened butter
- 175g caster sugar
- 3 lemons (ideally unwaxed)
- 3 eggs, separated
- 250g ricotta
- 125g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Heat the oven to 180C (fan 160C)
- Butter and flour a 20cm spring-form cake tin.
- Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the lemon zest, yolks and ricotta. Add the juice of 2-3 lemons, to taste.
- Fold in the flour and baking powder.
- Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then fold into the ricotta mixture.
- Spoon into the tin. Bake for 20-50 minutes until risen, firm and golden. Cool for an hour in the tin.