Almost every year, I forget to celebrate my own birthday. It's just so close to Christmas and New Years, but not close enough that everyone is still on holiday. This year I finally got round to baking a cake only three days late. Just like the last birthday cake I baked, I once again wanted a lemon cake. This time I used Nigel Slater's recipe from his excellent Kitchen Diaries II, and at first I was a bit nervous about the topping of simmered lemons, but after trying it I'm a total convert. Every lemon cake I make from now on will have this topping.
- 2 large lemons
- 200g butter
- 200g plus 4tbsp demerara ("raw") sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 90g plain flour
- 90g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- extra demerara sugar
Line a loaf tin (about 25x11x7cm) with baking parchment. Finely slice one of the lemons and put it in a small saucepan with 4 tbsp of water and 2 tbsp demerara sugar. Bring to the boil, then watch closely for 5-10 minutes, until the water has almost evaporated, and the lemon slices are sticky.
Preheat the oven to 160 C. Beat the butter and 200g of sugar together (Nigel has a fancy food mixer; I have GOOD ARMS), until they are light and fluffy. Zest the other lemon into the mixture, and beat the eggs in one at a time. Combine the dry ingredients, then fold them into the butter mixture, keeping the air in it as much as possible. Scoop the mixture into the lined tin, then lay the simmered lemon slices on top. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
In the saucepan in which you simmered the lemons, add another 2tbsp of demerara sugar, and the juice of the zested lemon. Stir until dissolved, then pour over the finished cake.