Monday, May 18, 2020

Lemon Drizzle Cake Disaster

I have been hosting a readalong of Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann. It is a stream of consciousness type book of over 1000 pages with very little sentence breaks. The narrator is a mother and bakes pies and cakes for a living. She kept going on about lemon drizzle cakes so I had to do some research. 
“I was delivering my cakes to the coffee shop in New Philadelphia, and that manager guy, Mark, accused me of changing my lemon drizzle cake recipe and said he liked them better before, the fact that I never felt so insulted, the fact that I left there almost in tears, the fact that I felt so mad he didn’t like my lemon drizzle cakes anymore, … the fact that my recipe let me down and I had to change it, lemon drizzle cake disaster….” (page 388)

“I internalized something negative about my drizzle cakes and that’s what’s stuck… it’s made me hate making lemon drizzle cake…” (pages 389-90)
The entire first page of results for a recipe were all UK websites, which means recipes with grams and self-rising flour. I took the one that looked the best to me and decided to adapt it which resulted in a few problems. I was double checking substitutions on a webpage, just picked one at random, and while it said you would use 1.5 tsp baking powder and .5 tsp salt for every cup of regular flour, when it listed cake flour it said baking soda... and even though I know better, I hesitated and instead of using my brain took this random website as somehow knowing more than me (where are my librarian skills!?) and so of course the first lemon drizzle cake really was a lemon drizzle cake disaster. The soda instead of powder meant the cake sank instead of rising, and all together it had a bit of a savory character to it.  I'm sure cake flour wasn't the right choice either but I had some and have been trying to use little of the all purpose flour in case I can't get any more!

Well I will not be defeated by a simple loaf cake. So I bought more lemons and tried again. This is when I noticed that the recipe is equal weight eggs, flour, sugar, and butter - which means this is a pound cake recipe - which means I probably won't like it made correctly. To me pound cakes are just too dry. But I made the thing, I used baking powder with the flour, I followed the recipe... I didn't think it was great. Like the narrator in Ducks, Newburyport, I was agonizing over a cake recipe that wasn't even one I particularly cared for to start with.

But I do think my attempts at finding cup equivalencies is about right. You can refer back to the original recipe if you prefer to weigh your ingredients. I'm a bad baker; I just can't be talked into finding the scale for a stir and bake recipe.

Lemon Drizzle Cake
(recipe from The Londoner, adapted by me)


3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (12 tbsp/6 oz) butter, at room temperature
Zest of 2 lemons (rubbed into the sugar, if you want)


Juice of 2 lemons (the ones you zested)
1 cup powdered sugar

Line a 9x4 cake pan with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350F.

Cream together your cake ingredients until you’re left with a nice smooth cake batter. Pour into your pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes.* While you’re waiting, mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until totally smooth. After 30 minutes, check the cake by inserting a skewer into the middle, if it comes out clean, it’s done. If not, give it a few minutes more. As soon as it's removed from the oven, use a skewer to poke holes all over the cake, all the way down to the bottom. Pour over the lemon glaze and leave to cool.

*I found I had to bake at least 40 to get the middle baked but then it felt overbaked. This is an ongoing issue with loaf cakes. Maybe it's my oven?

No comments: