Cook the Books – Demerara Lemon Cake

cook-the-books-demerara-lemon-cakeNigel Slater’s recipes seem to have a resonance that are simultaneously timeless and on trend. It was his ‘Real Fast Food’ to which I first turned when I would come home from a long day at work and it is his ‘Kitchen Diaries” today to which I will always flip through to get inspiration. The cake below is another syrup soaked affair, full of zingy lemon flavour and dense with almonds and eggs. It is perfect as a light pudding with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt and some strawberries or raspberries.  I been making it since 2010, initially for Jake’s lunch box but now, to occasionally have for unexpected visitors as it also keeps extremely well.

cook-the-books-demerara-lemon-cake

cook-the-books-demerara-lemon-cake

 

cook-the-books-demerara-lemon-cake

It’s not a difficult cake to make as long as you get everything measured out and ready to go. The first thing to do is to make the topping which is merely a matter of  slicing a lemon and simmering it for 5 or 6 minutes in a little water and sugar. This cools as you get on with the cake. Beat the butter and the sugar, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. If the batter starts to look curdled you can either add a spoonful of the flour mix with every egg or just ignore it as it all comes together in the end.  Fold in the flour mixture and scrape it into a lined loaf tin. Top with the lemon slices and bake. While it is baking, make the syrup which is just a little water and sugar and pour it over the spiked cake while it is still warm out of the oven. This is the first time I have made it in a conventional oven (as opposed to a fan oven) and the lemon slices sank – this has happened with other bakes too so the next time I try a topped cake, I will be turning the fan on to see if it makes a difference…

cook-the-books-demerara-lemon-cake

Lemon slices after simmering

cook-the-books-demerara-lemon-cake

Ready for the oven

cook-the-books-demerara-lemon-cake

For those of you who have been asking about Demerara sugar, it is a golden, raw cane, large crystal sugar, similar to Turbinado sugar. This is what BBC Food have to say about it;

This pale-coloured and mild-tasting raw cane sugar is named after its place of origin – Demerara, in Guyana – but it is now imported from various other countries, such as Jamaica, Malawi and Mauritius. It has large sparkling golden crystals and a crunchy texture. Traditionally used to sweeten coffee, it’s perfect for sprinkling but can also be used for baking, particularly in things that need extra crunchiness such as crumbles, cheesecake bases, flapjacks and biscuits.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about brown sugar;

Brown sugar is a sucrose sugar product with a distinctive brown color due to the presence of molasses. It is either an unrefined or partially refined soft sugar consisting of sugar crystals with some residual molasses content, or it is produced by the addition of molasses to refined white sugar (so-called Molasses Sugar).

Brown sugar contains from 3.5% molasses (light brown sugar) to 6.5% molasses (dark brown sugar) based on total volume. Based on total weight, regular brown sugar contains up to 10% molasses. The product is naturally moist from the hygroscopic nature of the molasses and is often labelled as “soft.” The product may undergo processing to give a product that flows better for industrial handling. The addition of dyes and/or other chemicals may be permitted in some areas or for industrial products.

And finally, this is what Wikipedia has to say about white sugar;

White refined sugar is typically sold as granulated sugar, which has been dried to prevent clumping and comes in various crystal sizes for home and industrial use:

  • Coarse-grain, such as sanding sugar (also called “pearl sugar”, “decorating sugar”, nibbed sugar or sugar nibs) is a coarse grain sugar used to add sparkle and flavor atop baked goods and candies. Its large reflective crystals will not dissolve when subjected to heat.
  • Granulated, familiar as table sugar, with a grain size about 0.5 mm across.”Sugar cubes” are lumps for convenient consumption produced by mixing granulated sugar with sugar syrup.
  •  Caster (or castor) (0.35 mm), a very fine sugar in Britain, so-named because the grains are small enough to fit through a castor, a form of sieve. Commonly used in baking and mixed drinks, it is sold as “superfine” sugar in the United States. Because of its fineness it dissolves more quickly than regular white sugar and is thus especially useful in meringues and cold liquids. Castor sugar can be prepared at home by grinding granulated sugar for a couple of minutes in a food processor.
  • Powdered, 10X sugar, confectioner’s sugar (0.060 mm), or icing sugar (0.024 mm), produced by grinding sugar to a fine powder.

Demerara Lemon Cake

  • Servings: 8 slices
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

For the topping

  • 1 large lemon
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp demerara sugar

For the cake

  • 200 g soft unsalted butter
  • 200 g demerara sugar (I use 100g caster/superfine and 100g soft light brown)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 90 g plain flour
  • 90 g ground almonds or almond meal
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 large lemon, zested

For the syrup

  • The juice from the lemon that has been zested
  • 2 Tbsp demerara sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

For the topping

  1. Place water and sugar in a small pan.  Slice lemon thinly and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated.
  2. Set aside to cool while you get the cake ready.

For the cake

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C/ 325F and line a loaf pan with paper.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This will take longer with demerara sugar as it is a larger crystal.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture may look curdled but it will be fine once the dry ingredients are added.
  4. Combine the rest of the (dry)  ingredients in a bowl and whisk to make sure that the mixture is well blended
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the batter with a large metal spoon to preserve as much of the air as possible.
  6. Scrape into the lined loaf tin and overlap the reserved lemon slices down the middle of the batter.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.
  8. In the mean time, make the syrup by combing the lemon juice and sugar in a pan (I use the one I have cooked the slices in) and leave to dissolve while the cake bakes.
  9. Check the cake, using a skewer or toothpick – if it comes out clean then it is done – if there is some batter clinging to the then it will need a little  extra time.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven and spike all over with a toothpick. Pour the syrup (not all of the sugar will have dissolved) over the cake slowly and evenly.
  11. Leave to cool in the pan.
  12. Serve with a thick dollop of  yoghurt, cream fraiche or double cream and possibly some fruit such as raspberries or strawberries to make it more of a pudding course.

This damp cake keeps very well for a few days if it lasts that long.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

59 thoughts on “Cook the Books – Demerara Lemon Cake

    • Karinna, you could make this with your eyes closed…And who doesn’t love Nigel? Straight talking and lets ingredients speak for themselves. I binge watch his programmes when I get the chance though I think he is a better writer than TV personality…and OHMYGOD do I covet that big white kitchen of his with the huge cupboards and garden doors…

      Like

  1. Selma, this looks lovely.
    I make Lemon Drizzle Cake – in memory of my grandmother, really – she always had it, served on beautiful fine china plates. But this sounds more interesting – the syrup is still here, but I’m going to try this as I like the sound of the texture here – more grown up, and, as you say, probably great for deserts. Good to know that it keeps well, as that’s really useful sometimes!
    Emma :-)

    Like

    • How lovely that you can bake something in your grandmother’s memory, Emma. I love that about food, recipes handed down from generation to generation with little tweaks to account for new methods or ingredients…let me know how it compares if you make it. It is much denser than a drizzle cake because of the almonds. x

      Like

  2. Hello Selma, we have yet another “crush” in common — Nigel. I have his more recent two books, Tender and Ripe. His recipes are so elegant and simple, no frills or fireworks, just wonderful ingredients and perfect pitch combinations. Just timeless! I still don’t understand the different sugars you have in the UK . . . but I can easily use half brown and half white. I wonder, what is soft brown sugar . . . . I assume it is the kind I can find in my supermarket; and I may have asked you before, but what exactly is caste sugar? Finally, I noticed that you lined your loaf pan, something I never do, but it really makes sense given that you’re soaking the cake with syrup. Yum!

    Like

    • Hello Sue – we are practically cook book twins!! I don’t have Tender or Ripe just because I have been making a HUGE effort to cut back on cook books but I do love Kitchen Diaries as it is a log of his cooking year so is seasonal as well – I find it really inspirational, especially late winter when I am in the cooking ingredient doldrums!! I usually buy packs of 50 loaf tin liners – so much easier and quicker than messing around with curling bits of parchment paper but this time I picked up the wrong size and keep forgetting to order more in…the liners make getting the cakes out much easier too and yes, when there is syrup involved, the liner keeps it all in! As I mentioned on Twitter, I’ve updated the post to include a description of the various sugars – i hope it helps! And thanks again for the retweets x

      Like

    • Demerara sugar is a coarse, brown, large crystal sugar – I have updated the post to include a description of all the various sugars – hope it helps! This cake is divine!! We just love it!

      Like

  3. First, this cake looks fabulous, Selma, and the flavors sound like something I would enjoy. I love almonds and lemon in desserts. Second, thanks for all that info on the sugars! It was helpful to read the distinction between the labels since I’ve been looking at so many different recipes from around the world and wanted to know the difference. Have a great week!

    Like

    • Thanks for your lovely comments Ngan! Because I have lived in Canada, I do understand the transatlantic translations of ingredients but a few people commented that they didn’t know what the various sugars were so I thought that it was the ideal opportunity to update the post with an explanation. And I hadn’t really thought about the difference in molasses content between the brown sugars….t will add it to my Tip and Tricks page soon, so that it is easy to find!

      Like

  4. Your cake can definitely be called “lemon” as it is included in all 3 parts. Lemons give such a great flavor to just about anything. I am curious about your “fan oven”. I went online and looked it up to try and understand it more. I have used a conventional oven for a long time even when I had a convection oven as baking has usually worked well for me :)

    Like

    • Fan assisted ovens blow the heat around to get rid of hot spots and give a more even cooking result. I have a double oven but they are both a bit sophisticated and unless I have people round, I am only ever cooking for two so tend to use the smaller top oven without the fan. In the past, I have baked very successfully in large American ovens, quaint little gas ovens and also fan ovens. I don’t have any problems with this top oven other than my toppings sinking into the cakes so I am wondering if the fan dries out the top of the cake making it firmer for the topping or whether a really moist atmosphere is made in the oven because it is so small – something is happening at any rate!

      Like

  5. Yes, I did read that it blows the heat around. I use to have double ovens as well but no fan. When we moved to our new home almost 10 years ago I had to adjust cooking times, different kinds of ovens just cook differently. Who knows, I’m sure your finished cake was delicious :)

    Like

  6. Gorgeous looking lemon loaf Selma. Just cooked One of Nigel’s recipes myself, but don’t have any of his books.. I .like the lemons on top of the loaf. Can’t wait to try this.

    Like

  7. Selma this is just such a beautiful cake. So organic and welcoming is your opening photograph. It is so funny as I just used the same Nigel Slater (I call him my boyfriend!) cookbook to make a chocolate banana bread. I based my gluten free recipe on the one in his book. I adore him and his aesthetic and his approach to food in general. Anyway, this is just great.

    Like

    • Oh, I love that chocolate and banana bread too! I guess we are going to have to share Nige as he’s my boyfriend too!! He does have just the best attitude to food – would so love to work with him…and thank you for your lovely comments Teresa x

      Like

I would so love to hear from you - please do leave a comment! (Your email address will not be visible.) Selma

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s