Simple things are often some of the best and food memories from our childhoods some of the strongest.
This cake was my granny’s and searching for her cake tin full of it was the first thing my brother and I did when we visited.
The crunchy sweet top and soft fluffy inside was my idea of heaven and so as soon as I was old enough to hold a spoon she stopped making it for me and started making it with me. I can’t count the number of times I made it with her but I can remember the painstakingly long waits for my mother and brother to return before we were allowed to cut it and I could fill my mouth with tender citrusy wonder.
The recipe couldn’t be simpler and is easily scaled up into a tray-bake. As is common in traditional bakes you use the same weight of flour, sugar and butter as your unbroken eggs; which with medium eggs (at 1 ounce each) is 2 ounces of flour, sugar and butter per egg- easy peasy lemon squeezy! (How apt!)
Jumping back a few decades I used Stork (with butter) margarine rather than pure butter for the cake in the photos as I found some in the fridge. If Mary Berry does it who am I to say you shouldn’t?! It does give a very light and fluffy texture but if butter is what you have, or you are more likely to finish off a pack of butter than a tub of margarine use that- anything goes here.
The lemon and orange drizzle is poured over as soon as the cake is removed from the oven so that the juices seep into the sponge and the sugar dissolves onto the top and then hardens to give a crunchy top.
1/2lb loaf tin or 8inch cake tin*
110g caster sugar
110g margarine or butter
2 medium eggs, at room temperature and beaten
110g self raising flour
1/4tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon, juice of half
Zest of 1 orange
For the glaze
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
- Preheat the oven to 170°C fan. Grease and line a 1/2lb loaf tin
- Beat the sugar and marg/butter together for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy
- Slowly add the egg, a little at a time, incorporating each drizzle fully before adding the next
- Beat in the flour, baking powder and zest. Stir in the juice of half your lemon
- Bake in the oven for 35mins (if using a loaf tin) until the top is golden, the sponge bounces back when pressed and a skewer inserted comes out clean
- Whilst the cake is baking mix the remaining juices with the sugar for the glaze
- When the cake is removed from the oven stab a few holes into the top of the cake using a fork and then carefully pour the glaze over the top. Add a little more sugar to the top if you would like
- Leave to cool in the tin for 5-10mins before turning out onto a cooling rack
*If you don’t have a little 1/2lb loaf tin use a 8inch cake tin but only bake for 20-25mins as the cake will be thinner.
Optional candied peel decorations
Pare one lemon to give strips of zest. Put 75g sugar (granulated or caster) in a saucepan with 150ml water. Gently heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved then turn to full heat and bring to the boil. As soon as it’s starts boiling at the zest and boil for 5mins. Remove from the heat, pick out the zest and leave to cool and harden on baking paper. Scatter over the top of the cooled cake for decoration.