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…

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Lemon slices after simmering

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Ready for the oven

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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
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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Glazed Blood Orange and Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pound Cake

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Another citrus cake – I know, but I do rather love making them. I love the bright, sharp flavours and that both the zest and juice can be integrated into such a flavourful and comforting slice. And buttermilk again too!  I’ve said in an earlier post how I always have it and/or sour cream in the fridge just because I find them both so useful and both have a relatively long shelf life too. Buttermilk is wonderful in bakes and does a fabulous job of tenderising meat and poultry. Since I have discovered that you can buy 1L cartons of buttermilk from the many Eastern European grocery stores that have popped in this part of London, I always seem to have some the fridge.

When my son had just started senior school, I went through a phase of baking a cake every Sunday so that he could take a slice to have at break rather than buying something full of trans fats and preservatives from the tuck shop. Banana cakes, carrot cakes, date and fig cakes, lemon and almond cakes, fruit and oatmeal muffins  – it was always something chock full of good things as well as eggs and butter! He quite often asked if he could take some for his friends which, obviously, I was delighted to accommodate! Now, alas, he is further up the school chain and has no room in his bag which is absolutely stuffed with school books, to take food of any kind in with him. That also means no more packed lunches – not something that I am sorry to see the back of. Now I seem to bake a cake at the start of the weekends, just so that there is a slice of something to offer with a cup of tea if someone (his friends or mine) were to drop by. I do write a food blog after all and it’s probably expected!

So to use up the last of the blood oranges, I have adapted a basic recipe for Pound Cake of which I have many fond memories from my teenage years. A slice of pound cake topped with sliced and macerated strawberries and a squirt of Cool Whip was the finale to many a summer picnic and barbecue when I lived in Canada. If you are unable to lay your hands on buttermilk, you may substitute yoghurt instead. And instead of blood oranges, you could use normal ones or even lemons. You can also use white caster sugar rather than the golden and muscovado sugars. Just keep the proportions the same and you will have a lovely, dense, aromatic cake which will keep for quite a few days in the cake tin.

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blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Messing about with a new app on my phone – Waterlogue

This is one recipe which requires the butter to be really soft in order to cream well with the sugars. Once that is done, whisk in the eggs, one by one and then stir in the grated zest. Juice the orange and add to the buttermilk along with the vanilla.

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Blend in a third of the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk mixture alternating until everything is used up but keeping a light touch throughout this part of the process. Scrape the batter into a prepared loaf tin and bake!

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blood_orange_buttermilk_pound_cake

Prepare the glaze by starting with 30ml of juice – I made mine much too runny by over confidently adding all the juice of half an orange. Glazes should be quite thick, I feel. Once cooled, glaze, slice and enjoy!

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Glazed Blood Orange Buttermilk and Brown Sugar Pound Cake

  • Servings: 8-10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 230g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 115 g unsalted, very soft, butter
  • 150 g golden caster sugar
  • 50 g light muscavado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest of 2 blood oranges
  • 120 ml butter milk
  • Juice of one orange which was approx 50-60 ml
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract/paste or the seeds of one pod

Glaze

  • 30 – 45 ml blood orange juice
  • 60g icing sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325F and paper or butter a 2lb loaf tin
  2. Aerate and mix the flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk and set aside
  3. Cream together the soft butter and sugar
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and mixing well between each. Add a spoonful of the flour if it looks as though it’s going to curdle – not that it make any difference to the end product.
  5. Stir in the zest.
  6. Mix together the milk, the  juice and the vanilla in a jug and set aside.
  7. Blend in a ⅓ of the flour mix into the batter using a light touch.
  8. Stir in half the buttermilk/orange juice mix and so on – you should finish with the flour mix. Don’t over beat.
  9. Scrape the batter into a loaf pan and bake for an hour. It will be quite dark from the brown sugar and when you insert a toothpick in the middle, it should come out clean.
  10. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove to a rack to cool completely
  11. Mix the glaze ingredients together to a fairly thick consistency and pour over the cooled cake.

Cardamom & Orange Syrup Loaf Cake

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-CakeThe other day I got a little excited to see bags of blood oranges in store and put one in my basket to make a salad with mint, beetroot and fennel. I got home to dejectedly realise that I had picked up a bag of normal oranges. I made the salad anyway as I was craving something crunchy, juicy and light and decided to bake a cake to use up the oranges.

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

I have been making versions of  this rustic Cardamon & Orange Syrup Loaf Cake for many years. The measurements are easy to memorise, all the ingredients are placed in the bowl and mixed in one go – no creaming, no whipping, no sink full of dirty dishes! The proportion of ingredients are based on the classic sponge cake (equal weights of eggs, flour, sugar and butter) even if the method isn’t. You can substitute limes or lemons for the orange; saffron for the cardamom; sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar before it goes in and use an apple juice syrup – the possibilities are endless. It emerges risen and golden with that characteristic  of Madeira cakes – a crack along the middle which is the perfect place to drizzle the syrup.

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Cardamom & Orange Syrup Loaf Cake

  • Servings: 8-10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Makes one loaf (in a 900g/2 lb tin)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 175 g of plain flour
  • 175 g of golden  caster sugar
  • 175 g of unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 75ml milk (5 Tbsp)
  • 1 large orange – zested

For the syrup

  • Juice of the large orange
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 6 cardamom pods

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  2. Melt the butter – see my Tips and Tricks page for easy ways to do this – tips 11 and 12.
  3. Prepare the loaf tin with a paper liner or butter the sides and lay a strip of parchment paper to cover the bottom and run up the short sides as handles.
  4. Place your mixing bowl on the scales and measure in the flour and sugar. Add the baking powder and the salt and mix  with a hand whisk to blend and aerate. Zest the orange straight into the bowl.
  5. Add the milk to the melted butter and stir – it also helps to cool the butter down.
  6. Crack the eggs into the bowl, pour in the milk and butter and mix for about 3 or 4 minutes with an electric mixer. It takes no time at all to combine. Do not over beat unless you want a tough crumb!
  7. Scrape into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 – 45 minutes. Poke with a wooden skewer at 35 minutes to be on the safe side.
  8. Give each cardamom pod a gentle bash with something heavy – it will crack open, revealing the seeds inside. In a pestle and mortar pound the seeds to a coarse powder. Or using the bottom of a sturdy glass, press on the seeds to break them down.
  9. Juice the orange and add to the sugar and cardamom seeds in a pan. On a low flame, heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid reduces somewhat – about 3 or 4 minutes. Take off the heat to infuse and cool. If the seeds are a bit on the chunky side, strain the syrup before using.
  10. When the cake is ready, let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then take it out and place on a rack. Gently prise away the sides of the loaf paper so that if the syrup runs down the sides it will be contained inside the wrapper and soak back into the cake.
  11. Poke 15 or so holes in the cake using a toothpick; then slowly and gently, pour over the syrup.
  12. Put it back inside the loaf tin until cold.
  13. Slice and enjoy with a cup of tea or glass of fizz!

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy SeedsThese Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds are brilliant to make for the  bake sale table at school fetes, which is what I first made them for. The addition of sour cream makes them incredibly tender and light. They were so good that I got an email from a dad who had bought one, asking for the recipe.

I do miss those school fetes now that J is at senior school. There was so much good will and pulling together to raise money for the scholarship fund as well as other charities. The Christmas fetes used to be spectacular themed events with parents, the Art department, the children and the maintenance department working in tandem to transform the school. One year the theme was Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with the full size bed and a paper mache family in it, in the entrance hall and Santa’s grotto awash with giant (cardboard) colourful sweets and candy canes. Probably the most spectacular was the Narnia theme, with a wardrobe complete with fur coats as the entry into the grotto and the school walls covered in white sparkly batting with thousands of hand made and decorated snowflakes and decorations hanging from the ceiling and on the walls. There was even a lamppost positioned outside the school doors. The fetes were really very special and I feel so privileged to have been a part of those happy times.

These Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds can be made with a hand mixer or in a food processor but either way, don’t take long to come together. A slice is wonderful with a cuppa and the cakes are also good to take in to work or as a hostess gift – delicious home made cakes are ALWAYS appreciated!

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cakes with Poppy Seeds

Marmalade and Sour Cream Loaf Cake with Poppy Seeds

  • Servings: 2 loaf cakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Jane Hornby’s Bitter Orange and Poppy Seed Cake for BBC Good Food

Each loaf cake cuts into 8 slices

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tbsp thick cut marmalade
  • 150g sour cream
  • 175g soft butter
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 200g  flour
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • zest of one orange
  • 2 tsp toasted poppy seeds

Topping:

  • 5 Tbsp marmalade
  • Juice of ½ an orange

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C/320F
  2. Prepare 2 x 2 lb  loaf tins with paper liners or butter the sides and lay a strip of parchment paper to cover the bottom and run up the short sides as handles.
  3. Gently heat the marmalade  – you can do this on a medium setting in the microwave or in a pan on the hob.  Off the heat, stir in the sour cream . Let mix cool.
  4. Place the butter in a bowl or food processor and beat/blend until smooth. Add the sugar and beat/blend for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, beating/blending well each time. The mix will look curdled but it will all be ok in the end.  Scrape down the sides and beat/blend again.
  5. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, poppy seeds and grate in the orange zest. Mix well with a fork or whisk; add the wet mix and beat in.
  6. Stir in the sour cream/marmalade mixture.
  7. Pour into the prepared tins  and place in the oven. I find it quite useful to divide up the batter by eye, leaving some behind in the mixing bowl and then weighing each tin to see where the remaining batter should go.
  8. Bake for 1 hour. Check at 30 minutes and  if they are colouring too much, cover loosely with baking parchment.  The cakes are done when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Give the cakes another 5 or 10 minutes if necessary. Mine were ready in 30 minutes but I have a very hot oven.
  9. While they are in the oven, prepare the glaze; heat the orange juice and marmalade until reduced but still runny. It will take about 5 minutes or so. Set aside to cool.
  10. Cool the cakes for 10 minutes on a rack in their tins.
  11. Turn them out and spoon over the glaze while the cakes are still warm

Loaf cakes will keep for 3-4 days if wrapped. Use baking paper to cover the top and foil to overwrap with.