Despite having a multitude of baking books, too many to count (Ok getting up to count: 28), I tend to return to the same two titles; Baking with Passion (Baker & Spice) and Breakfast, Lunch and Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery. Both books are oldies but goodies, the first having been published in 1999 with numerous reprints and the second in 2006.
Both are books that came out of successful shops, which makes a world of difference when talking success rate in your kitchen. One thing is to have a home economist who had a make over, a spin through a PR machine to emerge glistening from the other side with a collection of recipes she has pawned from her peers, substituting almond essence for vanilla here and cocoa powder there. Quite another is to have a book full of baked goods based on those that people line up and part with their money for.Yet another distinguishing feature is that Baker and Spice was the brain child of Gail Stephens (penned by Dan Lepard – who everybody worships these days and Richard Wittington) while Rose Bakery that of Rose Carrarini (also one of the co-founders of Villandry in London) both women. (Massive generalization coming – can one start a sentence with parenthesis? Does anything really go on a blog? Or have I taken it to far this time?) Shops run by women seem to share certain characteristics; food tends to be un-embellished, think of a male peacock with his attention grabbing tail versus the demure female; absence of gilding doesn’t translate into absence of taste, the spartan cheese plate at La Formagerie (Patricia and Danny Michelson) is the best cheese plate you will ever have in the world, anywhere, ever. Shops conceived by women somehow feel like the equivalent of someone who uses a Dove soap bar to wash their face and Nivea cream as a moisturizer, producing shiny naturally rouged cheeks with a few life lines thrown in for good measure; practical, real, genuine, dependable, good.
A lot of words to say that the recipes from Baker and Spice always work, you won’t find a recipe for Crack Pie in here but then tell me, who wants to wait 15 hours for a pie? (I did have a look through Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook but it left me a little cold, like Heston Blumenthal’s books.)This little lemon number will introduce a little zest into the otherwise dreary drizzly days that seem to engulf us. I like to bake it in individual bundt pans because I find loaf cakes look a boring and take longer to bake. Individual cakes have the benefit that if I am taking them round to a friend, then I can indulge in one or two cakes myself with them none the wiser.
Lemon Cake adapted from Baking with Passion from Baker & Spice
Makes 1 small loaf pan (500g) or 3.5 mini bundt tins (mine have a volume of 200ml)
105g plain flour (original recipe calls for 115g self-raising flour which doesn’t exist in Germany)
3 (level) teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs, room temperature
115g caster sugar
65ml full fat yogurt, room temperature (original recipe calls for double cream which gives it a softer crumb but I like the tartness from the yogurt)
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
45g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
butter and flour for the tin
Icing (double the original recipe because it’s yummy!)
60g icing sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice (-ish don’t pour the lot in because you might not need it and then you have to top up with icing sugar)
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly grease a 500g loaf tin with melted butter. Cut a rectangle of non-stick baking parchment to cover the bottom of the tin. Put the paper in place and butter it, then dust the paper and side of the tin with a little flour. Tap it out.
2. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Lightly beat the eggs with the sugar until just combined. Beat the yogurt (or cream if using) into the eggs for a minute, then add the lemon zest and juice. Fold in the flour until lightly combined, then gently and carefully fold in the melted butter. (Your doing this with a spatula right? I don’t want to hear the whir of electric beaters, that will make this cake into a brick).
3. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin. Set the tin in the middle of the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the sides of the tin. Cool on a wire rack.
4. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a small bowl. Slowly add two-thirds of the lemon juice, stirring until combined. Add more lemon juice to make a thin icing, be care not to thin it too much – the icing will thin further when left for 2-3 minutes.
5. Brush the icing over the top of the cake, letting it drip a little down the sides.