Sunday, 1 May 2011

Lemon Cake

This recipe is from the second series of Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets, recently shown on BBC TV. Raymond Blanc has come across as a very likeable personality during these two series, and a lot of the recipes, especially from the second series, haven't seemed too daunting for a home cook.

However, some of the online recipes haven't matched up with what he was seen to do on the programme and this recipe is a case in point. I didn't see the programme myself, but while searching for lemon cakes in general I came across a couple of blogs, including Poires au Chocolate, which mentioned lemon juice added to the cake batter. As I only had three lemons in total to play with, I decided to add the zest of all three, plus the juice of two, to the cake batter and use the juice of the third lemon, and no zest, in the lemon glaze.

The ingredients of the cake are a little unusual, but the method is very simple - whisk everything but the flour and baking powder together, then fold in these last two ingredients. I chickened out of using all the batter in my loaf tin, as my instinct is to never fill a cake tin more than 3/4 full. The cake didn't rise a lot, so I think I could have got away with putting all the batter into the tin - instead I ended up with 6 extra cupcakes! The unconvention of taking the cake out of the tin as soon as it came out of the oven required a leap of faith, but all was well!

The only letdown was the complicated method of glazing the cake. After all the fiddling around with warm apricot glaze and warm sugar syrup, when the cake went back into the oven to dry out, most the glaze just ran off the cake and ended up on the baking tray. I think it would be better to build up thin layers of the glaze on the warm cake, letting each one set a bit before adding the next. Fortunately I had some glaze left over and was able to improve the appearance of the cake a little.

The texture of this cake was superb - close and tender, without being too heavy. The lemon flavour of  the crumb was quite delicate, and the sharpness of the glaze made a good contrast. The small amount of added rum wasn't noticeable; without baking, and tasting, two cakes side by side - one without rum and one with - we'll never know what difference it makes, but I trust M. Blanc had good reason to add it!

This is the sort of lemon cake you would add to an old-fashioned afternoon tea spread - perfect texture, delicate flavour; nothing too extreme to put people off - not too sharp, or moist, or dry, or sweet - a good balance of flavours. For my taste it was a little underflavoured - I like my lemon cakes to sing with sharp lemon flavour, but anyone a little wary of too sharp a lemon flavour will love this cake!

11 comments:

C said...

The texture of that crumb looks amazing - really close and fine, I wonder if that is the addition of cream to the recipe? I'm not surprised you didn't put all the batter into the tin, the recipe certainly looks like it makes a lot - I'd never normally use more than a 3-4 egg mixture in a 2lb loaf tin, so it's interesting to see how it turned out for you.

I love the look of the glaze - must try that next time I do lemon cake. I'm not sure whether to try this from your report - I do like my lemon cakes very lemon-y, the one I usually make is Nigella Lawson's which has a syrup poured on after coming out of the oven which makes it very moist and intensely lemony. Hmm, dilemma!

Suelle said...

I think the cream must have been what gave such a fine texture, C, but I think it also must have been what damped down the lemon flavour too. I'd certainly expect more flavour from the zest of three lemons!

I'm not fond of really moist lemon drizzle cakes, which is why I tried this recipe. Dan Lepard's recipe is another one I like, but it uses ground almonds, which is no good for you!

I think this is worth a try for anyone, as it's so different from most cakes in texture!

Chele said...

I never got to watch the series, shame about the differences but I suspect he maybe does things off teh top of his head these days. Looks wonderful and I'm not usually a huge fan of lemon cake but I'd quite happily tuck into a slice of this ;0)

Foodycat said...

Cream and rum? How unusual! I seem to remember an Elizabeth David recipe for crepes where she adds some rum, and says it changes the texture not the flavour, so maybe that is it?

I think lemon cake is my favourite of all cakes, but I would do without the apricot jam and just do a lemon glaze I think.

Suelle said...

I suppose alcohol could affect the texture of the cake, Foodycat; I don't have much experience of making cakes with added alcohol.

The apricot glaze wasn't noticeable as a flavour - I think it just stops too much of the lemon glaze soaking in and affecting the texture.

Joanna @ Zeb Bakes said...

I am always on the quest for perfect lemon cake, so if you think this is a good one I'll give it a whirl, might have to sub creme fraiche for the cream that's all for the allergic one - Lovely write up Suelle!

Maggie@BritishBaking said...

I have been looking for a good lemon loaf recipe... I always find the cake a little too wet and crumbly, like Nigella's Lemon Loaf :( . Having seen your picture of the cake sliced I think I dare give this a go!! It's not normally a compliment to say a cake looks dry but you know what I mean!

Suelle said...

Maggie - I know just what you mean! I don't like drizzle cakes which have had too much syrup poured on, either.

celia said...

Beautiful cake, Suelle, lemon cakes are a favourite at our house! I have a friend in the UK with a big crush on Raymond Blanc - must get onto YouTube and see what all the fuss is about! :)

Bizzy said...

Lemon is my latest favorite flavor so this cake would be perfect. Apricot glaze makes for an interesting and delicious sounding combination.

Caroline said...

Made this recently and it's just as you described (i.e. delicious). I do love the texture, but as you say, there isn't quite enough zingy lemon flavour. It'll definitely be worth a repeat at some point though.