Thursday, 10 July 2014

Lemon and Marzipan Drizzle Cake

Lemon flavoured cakes can be sublime, or fairly pedestrian, but unless you go down routes which mean that lemon is no longer the dominant flavour, then there doesn't seem to be a lot of variation to the recipes available. In the UK there's lemon drizzle cake and in the USA there's lemon pound cake, both either served fairly plainly or made into layer cakes and stuffed with an excess of sugar and/or dairy fat. I'm sure there are other recipes available, but I spent a long time searching online and couldn't find recipes which looked as if they'd make something which turned out much different in texture to those two. The one exception is chiffon cake, but I didn't feel up to tackling that, even if I had a proper chiffon pan!

But this was my birthday and I wanted a fairly simple lemon cake, but with enough of a twist to lift it above being pedestrian. I didn't want to add fruit, either fresh or dried, but nuts were another matter! I almost passed over this recipe from Woman and Home, because it was another drizzle cake, some of which I find too dense and wet. In the end, not finding anything which looked better, I was swayed by what attracted me to the recipe in the first place - the word Marzipan in the title!

I didn't have the ingredients to follow the recipe exactly - I only had three lemons, but they were very large and I didn't have any ground almonds (how on earth did that happen!), although I did have ground hazelnuts, which I thought might be interesting mixed with the flavour of marzipan. The method looked weird to me - surely beating a cake mixture with an electric mixer after the cubes of marzipan had been added would break them up? There may have been a good reason for doing it this way, but as I couldn't see it, I decided to alter things a little. I beat in two of the eggs with the electric mixer before adding the marzipan, then used a spoon to mix in the other two eggs and the rest of the ingredients. To conserve lemon juice for the drizzle, I only added it at the end, with the flour, and only used enough to give the batter a dropping consistency. That left me with the juice of two and a half large lemons to make the drizzling syrup.

I made the syrup as in the recipe, including the amaretto, and although it seemed quite a large volume for the cake to absorb, it did all go in with only a slight hint of moisture escaping out of the bottom of the springform tin. As I didn't have any more lemons to make the glacé icing and decoration, and was in two minds whether I wanted any topping at all, I used a smaller amount of icing sugar and a tablespoon or two of the drizzling syrup to make a glacé icing, which I drizzled over the cold cake. There was enough to pipe a thicker band of glacé around the edge of the cake, which I then sprinkled with chopped toasted hazelnuts.

It wasn't until the cake was cut for serving that I realised why the marzipan was beaten into the cake - it looked as if nearly all of it had sunk to the bottom of the cake, where it made a sticky, but very tasty layer. It was probably meant to be broken up into smaller pieces by the beaters, and then either melt into the cake or stay suspended in the batter!

Apart from this minor fault, the cake was delicious; it was moist, but not as wet as I had feared, and still light in texture, despite the volume of drizzling syrup absorbed. Using the zest of three large lemons gave the cake an intensely lemon flavour, and the amaretto and hazelnuts added an extra dimension to the overall flavour. In the end, we didn't mind finding nuggets of marzipan at the bottom, but they would have been nicer dispersed throughout the cake. Cutting them smaller next time might be the answer!

PS - if anyone can suggest a recipe for a simple cake where the flavour of lemon is predominant, I'd love to hear from you!


snowy said...

Hope you had a Happy Birthday Suelle. Love the marzipan in the cake, and it looks good even if the marzipan did sink to the bottom! Will think about a lemon cake recipe. What a pretty plate.

Charlene F said...

Happy birthday, I hope you enjoyed your cake. The best thing about baking is that you can adapt the flavours to what you have in your cupboards :-) x

Kate@whatkatebaked said...

Happy Birthday Suelle! What a lovely cake to celebrate with, I love the crochet style pattern of the icing. PS: I wonder if a lemon polenta cake would fit the bill?

Phil in the Kitchen said...

I'm always up for cakes with lemon and this is definitely no exception. I usually combine lemon with other flavours and a simple cake with a predominant lemon flavour is a bit tricky, I think. There is the whole lemon cake option. I saw that first as a Claudia Roden recipe but plenty of other have since published similar recipes. They're lovely cakes but pre-cooking the lemons does change the flavour and smooth out the sharper edge. Oh, and a belated happy birthday.

Suelle said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes everyone.

Phil, I think you're right - I may have already tried most of the range of simple lemon cakes available. I haven't tried a whole lemon one yet though, so thanks for that idea!

Katie said...

This looks delicious and so moist. Love the drizzle on top. Hope you had a wonderful birthday
Delia has a lemon curd cake that is fabulous. Three layers of lemon cake sandwiched with lemon curd

Anne Szadorska said...

Happy belated birthday Sue! The cake looks delicious, I have never tried the lemon/ marzipan combination but now I am getting a taste for it whilst thinking!

I adore lemon cake but admittedly only ever make the same drizzle cake recipe I have used for years..

Mollie at Yumbles said...

This is so pretty and sounds like a delicious flavour combo. Hope you had a lovely birthday!

Choclette said...

Your birthday cake looks splendid Suelle and sounds rather delicious too. I've made marzipan cakes where the marzipan is incorporated into the cake and it always seems a bit of a shame as you don't get the benefit. This lemon and almond cake was one of the best I've made, but it may not be lemony enough for you -