Lemon drizzle cake is one of those classic recipes that never falls out of favour and the secret to its success is two-fold; firstly, it's so simple to make and is a perfect recipe for a novice baker. Secondly, it's a wonderful mix of sweet and tart, with the natural sharpness of lemons counterbalanced by a lovely sweet, sugary syrup.
A good lemon drizzle cake needs to be well-balanced, with the right amount of tartness and sweetness. If you follow the ingredients below, you'll find the perfect ratio.
To test if the cake is cooked, a skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
250g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature (plus extra for greasing cake tin)
1tbsp grated lemon zest
250g (8oz) unrefined caster sugar
4 large eggs
275g (9oz) self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
100ml (3½fl oz) buttermilk
Juice of 1 lemon
FOR THE SYRUP:
150g (5oz) unrefined caster sugar
50ml (2fl oz) water
Juice of 1 lemon
FOR THE CANDIED LEMON SLICES:
2 lemons, sliced
450g (140oz) caster sugar
500ml (16fl oz) water
FOR THE LEMON DRIZZLE ICING:
300g (10oz) icing sugar, sifted
80ml (2¾fl oz) lemon juice
Start by pre heating the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4). Grease a 23cm (9in) round cake tin with butter and line with baking parchment or paper.
Put the butter, zest and sugar into a large bowl or electric mixer and beat on a medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Break the eggs into a jug and lightly beat, then gradually add the eggs into the butter and sugar while the mixture continues running. As you pour in the eggs, add 4 tablespoons of flour, one at a time, at regular intervals.
Sift the remainder of the flour and the baking powdered into the mixer, gently folding in with a large metal spoon. Add the buttermilk and lemon juice and gently combine.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top and firm to the touch.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup and candied lemon slices. For the syrup combine the sugar, lemon juice and water in a saucepan. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and set aside.
For the candied lemons slices, combine the water with the sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a gently boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the lemon slices and simmer for another 5 minutes, until the fruit is soft but not falling apart. With a slotted spoon, remove the slices and place on greaseproof paper.
Remove the cake form the oven and poke holes all over the top of it with a skewer of toothpick. Spoon the warm syrup over the cake and set aside to cool.
Make the icing by sifting the icing sugar into a bowl. Beat in enough lemon juice to make a thick, pouring consistency. Spread over the lemon drizzle cake allowing some of it to run down the sides. Arrange the candied lemon slices on top.
This article originally appeared on House & Garden UK