If you feel your classic recipe doesn’t quite have enough zing, this one’s for you. This cake is not just super puckering, but my sponge is much more suited to being saturated with syrup than most recipes out there.
Many complain that their lemon drizzle cakes are mountainous or craggy, where the middle rises so much more than the sides and there’s a massive gash down the centre. Some people don’t mind this, but there are a good few things you can do to stop it.
First, your recipe – many have way too much flour in them, and so they end up a little bready. If you don’t have perfect seepage of your syrup, your cake will dry out very quickly. If you over-mix your cake, once the flour is added, you will develop the gluten in the flour. This is just like kneading a bread dough. It will cause greater rise in a more peakish way, but will make the cake tough and cloying.
Then, there’s the baking. If you bake your cake at a higher heat, it will rise more in the oven. But it won't rise flat. If you ever want a really flat cake, such as one to be covered in fondant icing or stacked high in tiers, turn the oven down by 20C or at least a gas mark. The cake won’t rise to quite the same degree, but will rise perfectly flat.
First, preheat your oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 2-3. Find a loaf tin, preferably with smooth corners, and grease it with loads of butter. We’re not going to use baking paper, so make sure it’s LOADS of butter.
Melt your butter in the microwave, and then add it to a large bowl. Add in your caster sugar, eggs, yoghurt and lemon zest and whisk these altogether. They’ll very quickly go light and fluffy – less than 30 seconds of mixing will do. Don’t worry if it curdles.
Add your flour, and fold this in very slowly and carefully with a large spoon. Stop as soon as you’ve taken care of the lumps. Pour your mixture into your greased tin and place it in the oven to bake. It will take 25-35 minutes.
Your cake is done when it bounces back when pressed and a skewer (or sharp knife) comes out clean. Leave it to cool for a few minutes whilst you make the syrup.
In a saucepan, place the juice of one and a half of your lemons and the caster sugar over a low heat. Stir all the time. As soon as all the sugar has completely dissolved, poke all over your cake with your sharp knife or skewer and drizzle your syrup on top. The holes are
so the syrup can track through to the bottom.
The final touch is the icing – weigh your icing sugar into a bowl, and just add wee dashes of lemon juice, a teaspoon at a time, until it comes together into a gloopy slop. It should be thick enough so that it isn’t going to just soak into your cake, like the syrup. Pour this over your cake so that it runs down the sides, preferably when the cake is still a bit warm. Grate some lemon zest on top, and serve when cool.
To get the very best distribution of syrup in a lemon drizzle, cut your loaf in half with a bread knife, as if you were going to make a sandwich cake. Drizzle onto the cut side, and the syrup will soak straight through, evenly. It even gives you an excuse to add an extra layer of icing.