Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Right Royal Lemon Cake.

Well helloooo there. I doooo hope you’ve been having muchmuch Jubilee fun. I kiiiiind of want to not care and to poopoooo the whole notion, a millionaire Gran in a hat having Gary Barlow through her a party, as a tacky indulgence, but alas, I am not that person. Somehow, at some point I became the person that threw a Royal Wedding parting and made a red, white and blue cake and made red, white and blue bunting out of cardboard and string. I am not ashamed...it is me and my ‘any excuse for joy and excitement’ soul. It could be worse, I could care about Made in Chelsea...oh wait....moving swiftly on.

This year, I didn’t quite reach the party throwing point; people up here across the border seem to care veeery little about the whole thing. I think the wedding was just more of a ‘thing’ because of the St Andrews connection. But I diiiiiid dust off the bunting and, of course, I made a cake. A lemon cake with lemon buttercream and white chocolate ganache to be exact. This is in fact the same one I made for my Royal Wedding do, and I think it’s one I’ll return to as a brill, fairly simple but rather spectacular centrepiece. For this occasion though I thought I’d omit the food colouring; a bit more class seemed appropriate this year; don’t think you’d EVER find HRH tucking into a red, white and blue cake.

While it IS simple I prOMise, there are a few steps required if you are to get the full ‘party cake’ effect. None of them are fiddly or majorly effortful, but they do require time, not from you, just in general, to cool and set etc, so you need to start off your efforts at least the day before you want to serve.

Allllllso, this is one of my beloved vegetable cakes....a courgette lemon sponge in fact, and therefore a million times more moist than it deserves and just gets moister and moister as time goes by. It also means there is noooo butter in the cake mix...allowing room for all that icing. You will need it, there is A LOT, but that’s the way I like it. I hope you do too. Happy Jubilee. With Love and Cake.

Lemon and White Chocolate Celebration Cake.
Adapted from Harry Eastwood's magnificent Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache.

A few notes:
  • I'm guessing you probably don't have 4x18cm cake tins, I know I don't. In fact I had to fiddle with the original recipe which was written for 3 tins, which is why the measurements are a bit random. So what to do...hopefully you have 2x18cm tins so just halve the recipe and make 2 layers, and then start again and make the other 2. The tricky thing is the eggs...you cant really halve an egg. So...easiest thing to do is to go by volume; 7 beaten eggs is about 400ml, so use 200ml for each half.
  • Of course though if your 'occasion' is not quite up to Jubilee status and you don't fancy quite so much effort and faff, just stick to two layers. And while you're at it, it would still be a fabulous cake without one or other of the icings, or totally bare naked if you prefer.
  • My stars and hearts...I LOVE. Allllll they are is melted while chocolate poured into silicone ice cube trays (hearts) and cookie cutters on greaseproof paper (stars) and left to set. Dust with a spot of edible glitter and don your party hat.
Makes a rather tall 18cm, 4 layered cake
You will need

For the sponge
4x18cm loose bottomed cake tins, greased and lined

7 eggs
270g caster sugar
430g courgette, finely grated
290g plain flour
190g ground almonds
4 tsps baking powder
zest of 4 lemons
3 tbsp strawberry jam (or your fav)

For the buttercream
100g butter, at room temp
400g icing sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice

For the ganache
150g double cream
150g white chocolate, finely chopped

  • Ok, here we go. First, as always, preheat you oven to 180°c.
  • Now whisk together your eggs and sugar for a good few minutes until pale and bubbling full of air.
  • Next, whisk in the grated courgette, then sift in the flour and fold it in to the eggs with the ground almonds, baking powder and zest until well combined.
  • Pour a quarter of the mixture into each of the prepared tins and bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.
  • Leave the cakes to cool in the time for around 10 minutes, and then turn out and and remove the greaseproof paper, leaving to cool completely before icing.
  • While the cooling is happening you can get on with the buttercream. Just whisk the soft butter until it is nice smooth paste.
  • Then add the icing sugar and lemon juice a bit at a time; whisking to combine and scraping down the bowl in between each addition.
  • Now to make the ganache. It's easy. Pop the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring juuuust to the boil. 
  • Pour straight over the finely chopped chocolate and let sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the heat left in the cream slowly melts the chocolate. It wont take long.
  • When it's smooth and all melted, give it a good stir and leave in the fridge while you get on with the other bits and bobs. 
  • So now you've done the hard work...now it's just time for a little prettifying.
  • First stack the cakes on your serving dish, spreading 1 tbsp of jam on the top of each cake as you go, just leaving the very top bare.
  • Now for the buttercream. First you want to do a 'crumb layer', which basically means use about 1/4 of the buttercream to ice the cake in a thin layer all over, and you'll notice that all the loose crumbs get caught and stuck in the icing. Now the cake needs 30 mins or so in the fridge, which will trap all the crumbs and stop them poking through into your proper layer of buttercream.
  • When the 'crumb layer' is cold and set, it's time to ice the cake with the rest of the buttercream and give it another 15 minutes or so in the fridge.
  • When that's done it's time for the ganache. It needs just to be poured over the cake and left to drizzle but only do this when the ganache has had a good few hours in the fridge and is not very far from being set, otherwise it'll slip right off and you'll have a very messy kitchen and a ganache-less cake.
  • Now, you've done it....save for the addition of a few white chocolate twiddles if you fancy and a flourish of glitter...you're ready to celebrate. Just don't forget to invite me.

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