Lemon drizzle is one of my favourite cakes to eat and make. A very good friend of mine doesn’t like lemon related sweet treats and I have to say, when I found out, she went down in my estimations slightly. I just don’t understand.
Lemon drizzle seems to be divided into two camps; those with a crunchy topping and those without. I prefer those without, the drizzle of my dreams is soft, tart and saturated in lemon sugar syrup without leaving crystals of sugar on the top. Here’s how I do it:
175g margarine/soft butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs beaten
zest of 3 lemons BUT NOT THE PITH!
3 tbsp whole milk
175g self raising flour
juice of 3 lemons
50g caster sugar
Grease and line a 20 x 20cm tin with greaseproof paper. I line like this. Use whatever size tin you have to hand, for a larger pan the bake time is usually less as the cake is less thick. For a smaller tin the bake time is usually longer. You’re looking for the edges of the cake to be pulling away from the sides and for a skewer to come out of the centre clean.
Preheat the oven to 170C. Check the rack is in the centre of the oven. Cream the margarine/butter with 175g caster sugar until really light and creamy. Takes about 4 minutes in a stand mixer. Add the beaten egg gradually, dribble by dribble. Then add the zest and the milk. Worry not if the mixture curdles. Fold in the flour with a metal spoon, pour into your tin, level with the back of a spoon and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden on the top and a skewer comes out clean from the middle.
Leave to cool slightly on a wire rack still in the tin and then make the sugar syrup by heating the juice of 3 lemons with 50g of caster sugar for about 2 minutes until the sugar dissolves and is just starting to bubble away. Poke lots of holes in your cake with a skewer and pour the syrup over the top, being careful not to let it all seep down the sides and drizzle the bottom of your cake only.
Then (now this is the important bit), lay out a large piece of foil, then on top of it a large piece of greaseproof paper – they need to be big enough to use as wrapping paper for your cake. Pick your drizzle cake up by the greaseproof paper it sits on in the tin and move to your wrapping paper. Then wrap your cake carefully, using the foil to fold the edges over. Leave the cake to cool like this. The heat of the cake and the lemon sugar syrup combine to create the most moist, zingy lemon sponge. Just the way I like it.