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Posts Tagged ‘lemon’

  1. Lemon & Blueberry Layer Cake

    December 12, 2015 by sarah

    I made this cake way back in the seemly long distant summer, for the tea party I held in our garden. Gosh, it seems so long ago that the sun was here especially as now the days are very short and what daylight there is is veiled in grey cloud and rain. I am dreaming of the lovely Ethiopian sunshine! Even my blue light therapy cannot dispel the winter blues!

























    But I chose to write up this recipe now as it has a sunny warm feeling about it. I wanted a light fruity cake to complement the heavier, richer cherry chocolate cake and lemon flavour always goes down well. And this cake ticked all those boxes; the light but flavourful sponge interspersed with bright bursts of blueberries, the bright sour flavour of the homemade lemon curd and the soft marshmallow of the Italian meringue topping enveloping the whole lot with a touch of caramel sugar where the blow torch caught as a foil against the floral tones of the elderflower. The list of ingredients and steps may seem an insurmountable hurdle but broken down into components, it really is not that a big a deal. You can make the lemon curd (you can find my fool-proof recipe here) a week or so in advance or buy a good quality one (I’m not judging). The cake layers (recipe adapted from here) can be made the day before and stored well wrapped in cling film. Only the assembly and meringue topping needs to be done shortly before eating. I was surprised by the keeping qualities of this cake. The meringue did weep terribly after about 12 hours but the syrup it produced kept the cake moist for several days!

























    If you have any lemon curd and meringue left over, you can easily make a form of lemon meringue pie – I made mini ones to have at the tea party. Marks and Spencer sell good quality ready made pastry shells which are so easy to use for this recipe.


    Lemon & Blueberry Layer Cake

    Cake Layers
    230g soft unsalted butter
    250g caster sugar
    100g soft light brown sugar
    6 medium eggs
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    360g plain flour, sifted
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    240ml buttermilk (or full cream milk with lemon juice added)
    zest and juice of 3 lemons
    275 of still-frozen blueberries, tossed in 2 tablespoon plain flour just before adding
    Jar of lemon curd
    Some plain or lemon buttercream (100g butter, 200g icing sugar, a little milk if necessary)
    Italian Meringue
    300g caster sugar
    200g egg whites
    1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    1 teaspoon elderflower essence (I used Uncle Roy's, available here)
    Fresh blueberries for decoration.


    Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Grease and line the base of three 9″ cake pans. It is easier to make this cake in a stand mixer, but it is perfectly possible to use a hand mixer or even entirely by hand.

    Beat the butter with paddle attachment until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until well creamed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

    Beat together the eggs and vanilla. Add to the butter/sugar mix a spoonful at a time with the beaters on medium, adding tablespoons of the flour if it looks like it is separating.

    Sift the dry ingredients (remaining flour, salt and baking powder) over the wet mixture, beat very slowly and then start adding the buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Do not over mix otherwise it will be tough – it is better to so the last bit by hand. Toss the blueberries into the flour and fold in. Spoon the batter evenly into the three prepared tins.

    Bake the three layers on the same shelf on the oven if possible and they will take 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven, cool in the tins and do not proceed until they are completely cold.

    Stick the bottom layer of the cake to the serving dish with a blob of buttercream. Pipe a ridge of butter cream around the outer edge of the top of the cake layer – this is going to act as a dam to stop the lemon curd running out from the layers! Spoon the lemon curd into the centre, as much as you dare and then place the next cake layer on top and repeat the buttercream dam and lemon curd and then sit the final cake layer on the top.

    Make the Italian meringue by placing the sugar in a saucepan with 175ml water and bring to a rolling boil; place in a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and beat to soft peaks. When the sugar syrup has reached 115°C, slowly trickle in down the side of the bowl of egg whites while they are going at high speed. Continue to whisk the meringue on high speed for about 10 minutes during which time it will thicken and cool but it is easier to use when still warm. Whisk in the elderflower essence if using and spoon into a piping bag. Use some of the meringue to cover the top first, smoothing with a spatula, then piping vertical lines (it is easier to go from bottom to top and it leaves nice spikes on top too) so that the whole of the cake is covered. If you have a blow torch then run it over the meringue to colour it. Dump some fresh blueberries on top, and an individual one on the top of each piped blob!

  2. Lemon Curd Recipe (Yolks only) and Lemon Tart

    March 25, 2015 by sarah

    After making the Swiss Meringue Buttercream for the chocolate cherry layer cake, I had 4 egg yolks left over. The weather is too cold at the moment for ice cream (a good way of using egg yolks) so I searched for alternative uses for the yolks and came across some lemon curd recipes that just used the yolks. This recipe works well but I have say that since I have made lemon curd both ways, I prefer my lemon curd made with whole eggs as it is lighter in texture and richness. The upside is this recipe is it does not need sieving afterwards to remove the little lumps of firm egg white that inevitable form due to the whites cooking faster than the yolks.

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    With several pots of lemon curd in the fridge, I thought I would try making a lemon tart. I pre-cooked a couple of pastry cases (shortcrust or paté sucré) and then filled them with the fresh lemon curd. I tried caramelising the tops by sifting over some icing sugar and then browning under the grill – unfortunately all what happened was I burnt the pastry. But despite this the tarts were still delicious. Next time I will try topping them with some meringue for a lemon meringue tart.

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    I also must extol the virtues of a Microplane grater. Having struggled with all kinds of zesters and graters over the years, I gave in and asked for one for Christmas. And it truly does grate lemon zest faster and finer than anything else I have used. Try it for yourself.


    Yolk Only Lemon Curd


    4 egg yolks

    175g caster sugar

    100g butter

    zest and jiunce of 2 large lemons

    1/2 teaspoon lemon extract/oil

    In a heat proof bowl over barely simmering water, place all the ingredients. Stir until the butter is melted and then frequently stir until the mixture thickens. This takes 15 to 20 minutes. When thick enough to leave a clear path through the back of the spoon when a finger is drawn through, it is done. Pour into sterilised jars and leave too cool entirely. Refrigerate until needed but also freezes well. Eat within a couple of weeks.

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  3. Polenta and olive oil cake

    March 3, 2015 by sarah

    Reading this title you probably thought that something had gone wrong. Perhaps a supper dish from Italy? But a cake? Made from savoury ingredients? Have I gone mad? No, my dear readers I have not gone mad. This cake is indeed a delicious and light sponge perfect any time of day from breakfast to dinner, as my husband can attest. It also happens to be healthier too as it is not made with butter.

    This cake was deliberately chosen to use up some store cupboard ingredients I found in my January clear out. I don’t particularly like polenta as a starch for a meal so this recipe was ideal way of trying it in a different way. I have to admit though it is a little drier than one would expect a teatime cake to be, probably because of its lack of butter, but this was definitely balanced with some poached fruit or yogurt on the side. The polenta gave a fine gravelly, but not unpleasant, mouth feel. Buon appetito!


    Polenta and Olive Oil Cake

    6 medium eggs

    1 cup white caster sugar

    freshly grated zest of 2 lemons

    1 and 1/2 cups of plain flour

    3/4 cup instant fine polenta

    2 teaspoons baking powder

    1 teaspoon fine salt

    3/4 cup olive oil

    drizzle: juice of the 2 lemons and 100g caster sugar

    Preheat the oven to 180 ºC/160 ºC fan. Lightly grease a 9″/20cm springform pan with oil.

    Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and with the whisk attachment, beat for at least 5 minutes until light in colour and tripled in volume. Pour in the oil and sift over the dry ingredients. Start the mixer on very slow, beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides a couple of times. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and place in the middle of the preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes until risen and slightly coming away from the sides; a skewer should come out clean.

    While the cake is in the oven, dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice for the drizzle; you may need to heat it in a small pan to get it to dissolve fully. Once the cake is cooked and taken out the oven, sit it on a tray and pour over the drizzle. Allow to cool fully in the pan before turning out.


  4. Luscious Lemon Drizzle Cake

    October 12, 2014 by sarah

    I always have lemons in my fruit bowl. Their zest and/or juice flavours and complements a huge range of dishes from around the world, sweet or savoury. You can probably tell from the number of lemon recipes on this blog that I am a lemon fan. Added to a simple sponge mixture, the zest lifts the cake to heavenly levels and a lemon juice and sugar drizzle ensures the cake is always moist to the last slice with a scrumptious crunchy sugar crust. Plus I enjoy looking at their sunny brightness in the fruit bowl.

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    I can’t remember where this recipe came from; it is hand written in my recipe collection book in amongst other recipes written when I was a student. I am sure it is the kind of recipe found on the side of a bag of flour or tub of baking powder. And it is so simple, it can be put together while cooking ‘proper’ dinner, not that I against having cake for dinner!

    Luscious Lemon Drizzle Cake

    125g soft margarine
    175g caster sugar
    175g self-raising flour
    pinch of salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    4 tablespoons milk
    3 medium eggs
    grated rind of 1 lemon
    Syrup – 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
                – 3 rounded tablespoon icing sugar
    Set the oven to 180 ºC/fan 160 ºC. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
    Cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Crack the eggs over the top and sift over the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the lemon rind and milk. On low speed with a hand mixer, mix until well mixed but do the last bit by hand to ensure it is not over mixed.
    Pour in the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until firm and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
    Mix the syrup ingredients together and pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven and is still warm.
    Leave to cool totally in the tin.
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  5. Chicken, Lemon and Olive Stew

    March 23, 2014 by sarah

    The lovely yellow colour and gentle spice warmth of this recipe brightens up the these cold Spring evenings. Just don’t dribble the juice down your favourite top as it will stain. You have been warned!

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    I almost always have a jar of homemade preserved lemons in the cupboard. I make it from the lemon skins left over from pressing the juice from other recipes, such as elderflower champagne or lemon curd, so it is practically free rather than the very overpriced and over coloured jars in the supermarket. But feel free to use what ever preserved lemons you have to hand. Even a quick trip to Marrakesh to pick some up is quite alright by me. If you take me too.

    Chicken, Lemon and Olive Stew

    Serves 4
    1 kg or so of chicken thighs with skin on, or chicken pieces or a jointed chicken
    2 tablespoons of olive oil
    1 large onion cut into fine half moons
    2 garlic cloves crushed
    a large thumb sized knob of fresh ginger, finely grated
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground tumeric
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 pint/half a litre of chicken stock (from a stock pot is fine)
    half a jar of green olives (pitted or not as to your preference or what is on offer), rinsed
    1 preserved lemon
    fresh coriander, chopped finely
    Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed casserole (my lovely new Creuset pan is perfect) and brown the chicken all over. Remove the chicken from the oil and rest on a plate. Reduce the heat to medium or less and soften the onion for a few minutes. Once the onions are softened, add the dry spices, garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant. 
    Pour over the chicken stock and with a wooden spoon, rub the bottom of the pan to release the crusted yumminess.
    Return the chicken to the pan and put on the lid; simmer for 30 minutes.
    Prepare the lemon by scraping out the sludgy insides and rinsing the rind under a cold tap. Cut the rind into small pieces and add to the pan with the rinsed green olives and the honey. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes with the lid off. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required (will probably not need salt due to the lemon and olives). Serve over couscous.
    juniper (5 of 6) juniper (4 of 6)

  6. Eggs and Lemons Part Deux – Lemon and Poppyseed Cake

    November 2, 2013 by sarah

    With the excess eggs and lemons, I also made a lemon poppyseed cake. This came out a bit denser than I like for a sponge though I understand Maderia sponges are supposed to be like this. Next time I will try adding a little (maybe half a teaspoon) of baking powder and see if it lightens the mixture up a touch.

    Lemon and Poppyseed cake
    From ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ by Nigella Lawson
    240 softened unsalted butter
    200g caster sugar
    grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
    2 tablespoon of poppyseeds
    3 large eggs (or 4 medium), beaten
    210g self-raising flour
    90g plain flour
    Line and butter a 23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin.
    Cream the butter and sugar, then add the lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time with a tablesppon of flour for each. Then fold in the rest of the flour and the poppyseeds and finally the lemon juice. Sprinkle with caster sugar.
    Bake at 170 (150 fan) for an hour or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in the tin before turning out.
    Unfortunately I had to cook this at the same time as the pastry for the lemon meringue tart, which meant it was at too high temperature and it burnt slightly round the edges. Also my fan oven isn’t very even and I forgot to turn the cake. Will not do that again!
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  7. What to do with eggs and lemons? Lemon Meringue Tart

    November 2, 2013 by sarah

    This week I found an egg mountain in my fridge. Well not so much a mountain as I am not sure if you could stack eggs high enough to make a mountain, but a whole box of my girls’ eggs hiding at the back of the fridge. They are starting their annual moult which is when egg production slumps so these eggs are very precious and deserving of a fitting baking project.

    I am not a fruit pie girl. I suppose it stems from my innate fear of pastry, which I am slowly over coming, and lack of tummy space for a desert after dinner but why should pie be restricted to a particular time of day. In fact, I have enjoyed it for breakfast for several days and though I am sure it would not be good for one to do this on a regular basis, it does have a naughty twinkle-in-the-eye element! And it contains eggs and fruit, what is more healthy than that!

    Lemon Meringue Tart
    Recipe from ‘The Great British Book of Baking’ (BBC Books)
    For the sweet shortcrust pastry
    • 175g plain flour
    • 115g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
    • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
    • a good pinch of salt
    • 1 medium egg yolk, with 2 tablespoons ice-cold water
    For the lemon filling
    • 3 medium unwaxed lemons
    • 40g cornflour
    • 300ml water
    • 3 medium egg yolks
    • 85g caster sugar
    • 50g unsalted butter, diced
    For the meringue topping
    • 4 medium egg whites
    • 200g caster sugar
    A 22cm loose-based deep flan tin.
    Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like bread crumbs. Using a round-tipped knife, mix in the egg yolk mixture. Knead for a minimal time to bring together. Wrap this in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
    Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and then use to line the flan tin. Prick the base with a fork and put in the freezer for 15 minutes while the oven heats to fan 170. I like to leave a little extra pastry all around the edge to account for shrinkage and then trim this off after the first part of the blind bake as you remove the baking beans.
    Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Heston (de Blummental) likes to use copper coins for this but I’ve never tried this way as I have the beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and trim the edge and return to the oven for another 5 minutes, take out and leave to cool. Do NOT over cook the pastry as it will turn burnt and bitter and it will be getting further baking anyway.
    Make the filling by grating the zest of the lemons into a heatproof bowl, adding the lemon juice and cornflour, stirring until a smooth paste is formed. In a pan bring the water to a boil then pour it over the lemon mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When thoroughly combined, tip all the mixture back into the pan and put on the heat, stirring constantly until it boils and thickens. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep stirring for another minute. Remove from the heat and quickly beat in the egg yolks then the sugar and butter. Leave to cool.
    Make the meringue topping by whisking the egg whites until soft peaks and then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until it is well dissolved and the resulting mixture is glossy and stiff.
    Fill the pie by spreading the lemon mixture over the pastry case then topping with the meringue, making sure the meringue goes all the way to pastry edges. Stand the tart on a hot baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. Leave to cool to room temperature before unmoulding and serving but eat the same day other wise the meringue will weep and liquid will come out of your tart/pie. From searching online, this is a common problem and there doesn’t seem to be any sure way of avoiding it except by eating the pie straight away. No excuse needed!
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  8. Lemon curd and some non-bake baking!

    March 17, 2013 by sarah

    Though the weather today is the opposite of spring-like, I felt like making some lemon curd. The silky smooth texture with a fresh zingy flavour and eye-popping yellow colour sort of sums up Spring. I hope the sun comes soon! This was my first attempt, by the way, and I am very pleased with the result.

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    Makes about 700g or 3 small jars and a little left over.


    Grated rind and juice of 4 ripe unwaxed lemons

    4 eggs, beaten

    125g butter cut into small pieces

    350g caster sugar




    Place all the ingredients in a pyrex bowl over gently simmering pan of water (picture 2). Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the butter melted.

    Continue to heat gently for about 20mins until thickend and coats back of a spoon (image 3).

    Strain and pour into sterilised jars. Done!

    Keeps for a few weeks in the fridge.



    While the curd was thickening, I threw together a batch of rocky road (melt 125g butter and 300g dark chocolate and 3 tbsp of gold syrup, add 200g crushed biscuits, 100g mini marshmallows and any dried fruit or nuts that need using, press into tin, refridgerate).









    Update 15/9/13 – made the lemon curd for the show using this recipe but reduced the sugar to 300g and added half a teaspoon of real lemon extract. This made it super zingy and so super nice.