Tag Archives: Lemon

Luscious Lemon Cake

We celebrated Charles’ 29th birthday at the beginning of this month, so I made him this luscious lemon cake.  Of course, it was pretty difficult to keep it as a surprise with him popping in and out of the kitchen every now and then, and he had already spotted the homemade lemon curd in the fridge, even although I took a jar to his Mum to disguise the true reason for whipping up a batch a couple of days previously.  Not to worry – he knew there would be a cake of sorts so the fact that he knew it was a lemon cake was neither here nor there.  Besides, he had asked for a ‘healthy’ cake after we had spent the previous week working our way through his Dad’s ridiculously chocolatey birthday cake.

Anyway, it was a success all round after a few hairy moments during the decoration stage when the hot, muggy day combined with the heat of the dishwasher drying caused the icing to become a bit too slidey on occasion!  I decided to decorate it with loads of pick’n’mix jelly sweets and Haribo because jelly sweets are just about the only treat Charles has been allowing himself (apart from birthday cake, of course) since we both started eating a bit more healthily in preparation for our wedding (and in preparation for being super old).  I thought his Dad would think it was all a bit childish, but it raised a few laughs and smiles, after all, you can’t have a sweetie birthday cake once you’re in your thirties now can you?  This cake would still be great for general eating, and doesn’t really need any decoration, so you could leave off the sweeties and instead get creative with piping, texturising your icing or perhaps adding some candied lemon peel or edible flowers to make it a little prettier.  It’s effectively a moist lemon drizzle cake sandwiched with lemon curd and lemon curd buttercream, and decorated with the same lemon buttercream.  Delicious.  And perfect for summer.

Luscious Lemon Cake

Luscious Lemon Cake

Ingredients

    For the sponge:
  • 250g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp double cream or milk, or 2 tbsp crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • zest of two lemons
  • For the syrup:
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • juice of 2 lemons (so two whole lemons for the whole recipe in addition to the lemon curd!)
  • For the lemon curd buttercream:
  • 150g salted butter at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp double cream or half as much of your substitute
  • 300g icing sugar
  • Around half a jar of fresh lemon curd, although it's easy to get carried away!

Instructions

  1. Start off by preheating an oven to 160c fan or 170c non-fan assisted, and line yourself a couple of sandwich tins. Grab a large mixing bowl and a digital scale and that's you ready to go.
  2. Weigh out the butter and give it a good mix for a couple of minutes with an electric hand mixer to start it off on the road to becoming creamy and fluffy.
  3. Add the sugar and repeat the mixing process, continuing for a good 3-5 minutes on high power until the mixture is really creamy and fluffy and full of air. This is such an important step if you want a light and fluffy cake.
  4. Next, add the eggs, and repeat the process with the hand mixer. The introduction of the eggs should give you another chance to introduce some serious air, and you should only stop once it's pale coloured and almost frothy in texture.
  5. Add the vanilla and lemon zest, and quickly whisk in.
  6. The last stage in making your sponge batter is to weigh in the flour and measure out the cream or crème fraîche and add these to the mixture.
  7. This time, however, you want to introduce your electric whisk relatively gently and for as little time as possible, as this stage is just to combine the flour and moisture - overworking the batter will develop the gluten in the flour and give you a tough, heavy sponge, undoing all the good work you did with the butter, sugar and eggs. Whisk until just combined (although don't stop before it is combined or you might end up with pockets of flour in the finished cake).
  8. Your cake batter is ready for the oven! Divide it as evenly as possible between your greased and lined cake pans - I find a silicone spatula to be really helpful to scrape out the batter relatively efficiently making sure you don't waste too much to the washing up bowl. Even out the surfaces, but don't move it around too much or you could overwork the batter.
  9. Slide the cake pans into the oven and cook for around 20 minutes or until golden on the outside, starting to shrink from the sides of the pans and just springy when lightly pressed on top. Try not to open the oven until they look done as you could risk the sponges collapsing if the middles are still quite liquid.
  10. While your sponges are baking, you can get the syrup ready, as this needs to be poured over the sponges while they're still warm.
  11. Cut the lemons in half and thoroughly juice them, discarding any seeds.
  12. Grab a small saucepan and weigh out the sugar and water then add the lemon juice and stir it all together over a low heat on the hob. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up and allow the mixture to boil and reduce down for a few minutes. You want a syrupy consistency, so don't be scared to keep it simmering if you think it's too thin - it's going to be poured over the sponge so you want it to catch and seep through, not soak immediately through the cake.
  13. When the syrup and sponges are both ready, leaving the sponges in the cake pans, carefully divide the syrup between the two sponges, pouring it slowly over the surface of both sponges, being careful not to over-saturate any one are of the sponge. Now leave them alone until completely cool.
  14. In a clean bowl, weigh out the butter for the lemon curd buttercream and give it a whizz up with the whisk. Add the cream and whisk again. The wetter and creamier you can get it the easier (and less messy!) it will be to add in the icing sugar.
  15. Now add the icing sugar and beat this in well, trying not to cover everything in a cloud of icing sugar dust!
  16. Add the lemon curd and mix again, and that's the buttercream ready for the cake.
  17. When the sponges are nice and cold, turn them out onto a plate or cake board, turning the first sponge upside down and centring it on whatever you're serving the finished cake up on. Peel off the greaseproof paper circle and check it's fully cool underneath before proceeding.
  18. Spread a layer of buttercream onto the bottom sponge, a few mm thick.
  19. Then add a layer of lemon curd, bearing in mind that if this is too thick the weight of the top sponge might squeeze it out.
  20. Now repeat the turning out process with the other sponge, placing it upside down on top of the first sponge. Using a pallette knife, ice the cake all over, as evenly as you can manage.
  21. And that's you ready to decorate!
  22. As I mentioned earlier, I decorated Charles' cake with lots of jelly sweets....
  23. ...and some birthday candles.
  24. But it will be delicious either way!
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Summery Chicken Marinade

It’s officially BBQ season in the UK….or so they say….and here at Blunty’s Mill we managed our first (possibly only) BBQ of the year on Saturday night, marking the first meal cooked somewhere near our new house. We’ll get there soon and we’ll give you a tour of our new kitchen as soon as we’re settled.

Homemade BBQ
Before you ask where we got such an accomplished looking BBQ, you should know that Charles made it awhile back and it’s actually pretty genius as BBQs go. No gas to worry about, no faffing about with lids and wheels and very limited cleaning needs. In fact the grill can go straight into the dishwasher once it’s cool.

BBQ Recipes
Anyway, one of the resounding successes of said BBQ was chicken marinated in an impromptu combination of tasty things we had in the temporary kitchen we’re using while we await the completion of the house, and it was rather a success. So much so we’ll be having it again tonight with pasta. Like many BBQ recipes, this one works with all sorts of accompaniments, from salad to rice or chips, so it’s a great one to have in your back pocket. It would also be cracking with salmon or prawns – fresh and lemony with a ginger punch.

Fresh Oregano , Herbs

For two chicken breasts, you will need:

1 tbsp fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley, thyme and oregano or 1 tsp dried parsley and 1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 cloves garlic

2cm squared or so of fresh ginger

Zest of one large untaxed lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

Crack black pepper

Easy Marinade for Chicken

1. Rinse and finely chop the herbs.

Summer Chicken Marinade Recipe
2. Finely chop or grate the ginger (don’t worry we didn’t use THAT much ginger) and garlic and remove the zest from the lemon. A fine grater or microplane is the easiest tool for this job.

How to Marinate Chicken
3. Put the chicken breasts into a sealable plastic container or freezer bag. This reduces washing up and keeps the chicken fresh whilst it’s marinating.

Lemon Chicken Marinade
4. Add the chopped and grated ingredients to the bag or box.

Chicken Recipes for BBQ
5. Pour in the olive oil, add the pepper, and mix everything together well, distributing the various flavourings as evenly as you can between the chicken breasts. If you’re using a freezer bag, you can really massage the marinade into the chicken (from the outside!) without getting your hands dirty.


6. Seal up the bag or box and pop it into the fridge for at least an hour, removing from the fridge around half an hour before you plan to cook it.

Lemon and Garlic Marinade
When we did this one on the BBQ, we butterflied the chicken to reduce its cooking time to make sure it could be cooked through without burning on the outside (we don’t have a photo of the BBQ version because it wasn’t worth looking at by the time we had finished stabbing it all over to make sure it was cooked!) but by controlling the temperature on a frying pan, or by browning and putting in the oven to cook through, you can manage moist, tender, safe to eat chicken without butterflying it.

Easy Chicken Recipes

Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken

So last week I had a hell of a hankering for chicken Caesar salad. I decided, therefore, that with the great spring weather we’ve been having, it might be time to make salad for weekday lunches. The most cost-efficient way, it seems, to get a good batch of cooked chicken ready for the fridge, which can then be used with various different meals. I always prefer the brown meat on a chicken for eating cold so I figured a whole chicken would be the best way to go. 

  

You will need:

1 medium to large chicken

A good sized knob of butter

2 lemons

1 onion

4 or 5 cloves of garlic

Salt

Pepper

Paprika

Thyme

Parsley

1. Take your chicken out of the fridge around an hour before you’re ready to cook it. Half an hour if it’s a hot day. This helps it get to room temperature before cooking so it doesn’t get too much of a shock when you put it in the oven and to make sure your cooking times are as accurate as possible. 

2. After about 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 200C and start to prepare your bird for the oven. Pull off your garlic cloves and clean off the worst of the papery skin. Line a roasting tray with foil and skatter the garlic around, bearing in mind that it’s to end up sitting around where the chicken will eventually sit. Chop the onion into sixths or eighths and skatter that around as well, keeping one piece to the side for the cavity. 

3. Grate the zest of one of the lemons and place it in a small bowl or ramekin. Half one of the lemons and place it inside the cavity along with the last piece of onion. Quarter the other lemon and place around the side of the tray.

4. Add the seasoning and herbs to the lemon and add in the knob of butter. Carefully mash this around with a fork to distribute the flavourings throughout the butter. 

  

5. Opposite to the cavity, you will find loose skin feed under the bird inside the trussing string. Carefully loosen this out and open it up. Stick your hand inside and carefully separate the skin from the flesh at both sides of the breast with your fingers. You want to loosen this as far as you can fit your hand in, without tearing the skin. 

6. Take small amounts of the butter mixture and slide it under the skin at both sides, carefully massaging it up the way through the skin to try to cover the breast, reserving a small amount to rub on the outside. Tuck the skin back into the string and underneath the bird and rub the remaining butter all over the breast and legs. Toss over some more thyme and parsley.

  

7. Put in the centre of the preheated oven and immediately turn it down to 190C. Cook for 20 minutes then take it out of the oven, turn, and cover the breasts with tin foil. Cook for a further 20 minutes per lb, turning again halfway through before covering the whole tray with foil. 

8. Once your timer is up, remove from the oven and allow to rest. If you’re not confident it is fully cooked, stick a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh and ensure the juices run clear. If not, put back in the oven until they do when tested again. Carve if serving, or allow to cool a bit more before carving and picking the carcass. 

9. The cooking juices can be used to make a gravy or stock, but i drizzled them over the chicken to help it keep moist and full of flavour. Enjoy!