I love the fact that I can grab my phone, Google a recipe and have lots to choose from right at my fingertips. Today I made a coffee and walnut cake. I literally have no idea what I did wrong; I followed a tried and tested recipe by the excellent Felicity Cloake (who I secretly think would definitely be my friend if we met, but also think that sounds really quite mad and stalker-ish). The cake is for my sister’s birthday and it looks really sad! It just didn’t rise correctly and sank horribly in the middle, leaving it like a very inelegant bundt cake. I can’t even face icing the thing tonight so am going to have to do it in the morning. That is why there’s no photo of the fated birthday cake (and if my total shame about the cake continues there never will be any photographic evidence). Felicity, I still love you even though the cake has not made for a great blogpost….
Even though the convenience of Google is great, sometimes there is something really comforting about having shelves of cookbooks – it makes me feel like I am a proper grown up, someone who is settled enough to want to cook and take pride in it. Maybe it’s because a lot of the other areas of my life do not feel grown up at all. I dug out my Hummingbird Bakery cookbook a few weeks ago, I’ve had it for years and most of the pages are slightly stiff from dried batter and subsequent wipe downs. I still haven’t made every treat from the book – but others I can make without referring to the recipe at all any more! The lemon loaf is a big family favourite, although I recently made it and have lost my large loaf tin so I had far too much batter for my tin (sadly we had to have two cakes that week!)
I think the reason I like the Hummingbird Bakery’s lemon loaf is there’s no creaming of butter and sugar and yet this cake has such a fantastic light texture – which is then made slightly dense with the sticky lemon syrup.
As winter is suddenly really scarily here I made a slightly more festive version of the Hummingbird Bakery’s lemon loaf, with clementines. Because I’ve lost my loaf tin I actually made a big round cake in my loose bottomed round tin (It’s about a 9 inch tin I think) I couldn’t be bothered to line it as I was being lazy so I just buttered it quite liberally. It resulted in a nice golden rich crumb on the outside of the cake that was slightly crumbly – I do recommend it. One thing to note – I always use salted butter in everything I bake as I like the sweet salty balance – I just refer to “butter” in the recipe and most people would probably prefer unsalted – feel free to use whatever you are comfortable with here. Try not to use a palm oil filled cheap alternative if you can avoid it though. I find that cheaper margarines really don’t taste very nice and defeat the point of home baking – for me anyway. I try to avoid buying factory made baked goods as I am not confident in the supply chain of palm oil.
NB I have somehow lost my images of my full sized cake (maybe I ate it and forgot to photograph it?) so the images in this picture are of a smaller version done in a silicone flower pan, you can get these on Amazon so I’ve linked to the product at the bottom of the post – I think they are really fab for making brownies and other “flatter” cakes in. I think they would also be really cool to make a layered/sandwich style cake.
*any milk, just not skimmed – almond, coconut, cows – whatever you have! I used coconut recently and it really gave the cake a wonderful lightness
Put eggs, sugar, clementine zest and vanilla essence into a bowl and beat until fluffy looking.
Add salt and baking powder to flour.
Sift ⅓ of flour mix into egg mix followed by ⅓ of the milk, beating to fully incorporate before adding the next third each of flour and milk until all ingredients are incorporated.
Melt butter and pour into batter and mix to combine.
Pour into greased cake tin and bake for around an hour until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in tin a little while you make the icing. I sometimes stab it with a skewer a few times if I can find one in my kitchen drawer. If they have all mysteriously vanished (which often happens in my house) then I don’t worry too much about that!
Mix the clementine juice, icing sugar and granulated sugar. Pour over the cake while still in the tin and leave it to seep in for ten minutes or so. Serve! This lasts a day or two in my house as it gets eaten quickly. It would keep for a week in a well sealed tupperware. Again, links in the post to my favourite.