This is a cracking little cake which has not only wowed people at gatherings but is also gluten free, which is a great asset to have up one’s sleeve. The credit for the recipe goes to the River Cottage, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s hugely successful project and television series. However, recipes for lemon drizzle cakes are abound and so one is never too sure where a recipe actually originated.
The secret ingredient for this wonderfully moist cake is mashed potato. This does seems quite an innovative, and dare I say aberrant, ingredient to use in a sweet cake, but when you think about it nobody would blink twice at carrot cake. The potato contributes to the cake’s moist texture, without imparting any ‘potatoey’ flavour. Almond meal is used instead of flour. The lemon syrup that is drizzled over the cake provides a great balance of sweetness and sharpness.
SMashing Lemon Drizzle CakeSMashing Lemon Drizzle CakePrint
- ■ 175g unsalted butter | I use Lescure French butter, but that’s just a personal preference.
- ■ 200g caster sugar | White or golden caster sugar can be used.
- ■ 4 large eggs | Free range.
- ■ 200g almond meal | I have used bought almond meal, and also blanched almonds that I have ground myself – either will do.
- ■ 2 tsp. baking powder | Baking powder is usually a mix of sodium bicarbonate and an acid. When the baking powder is heated the bicarbonate and acid react to produce carbon dioxide, which is the gas that causes the cake to rise.
- ■ 250g mashed potato | Boil potatoes, such as Desiree or Sebago. When soft push through a potato ricer and allow to cool. Don’t add any salt, milk, cream or butter.
- ■ 3 lemons - zest of | Finely grated.
- For the Lemon Drizzle:
- ■ 2 lemons - juice of | Squeeze ‘em well.
- ■ 75g caster sugar |
I have made this cake using the electric mixer method and the manual ‘by hand’ method. Both produced fantastic results, so the decision on which to use is probably down to whether you have an electric mixer or not – wow, sometimes I feel like the Einstein of the food world.
Firstly preheat your oven to 180 deg C. Line a 23cm spring-form cake tin with baking parchment, and grease the side with butter.
Using an electric mixer: Beat the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until soft. Then add one egg with about a tablespoon of the almond meal. When beaten in repeat the process with the other 3 eggs. Now add the rest of the almond meal and the baking powder and beat until mixed. Add the mashed potato, beat until mixed and then finally add the lemon zest, and again beat until mixed.
Using the hand method: Soften the butter slightly and then add to a bowl with the sugar. Beat with a wooden spoon until soft and fluffy. Carefully add one egg and a tablespoon of almond meal and beat really well to prevent curdling. Repeat with the other 3 eggs. Stir the baking powder in to the rest of the almond meal and then fold both into the mixture. Then fold in the mashed potato and finally the lemon zest.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and pop it in the oven. Now, I have had variations in cooking time, so check after 25 minutes and then use a skewer to test every few minutes (when ready the skewer will be clean after prodding the cake). It usually takes about 40 minutes for me.
Once out of the oven prepare the syrup. Add the sugar to the lemon juice and stir a couple of times ensuring that not all of the sugar has dissolved. Whilst still warm pierce the cake with a skewer, about two-thirds the way into the cake i.e. not through to the base. Evenly pour the lemon syrup over the cake, and watch it seep in. By not completely dissolving the sugar you should end up with some crystalline sugar at the top of the cake, by design. Let the cake cool before removing from the cake tin. Dig in.
Keep in a sealed container at room temperature to keep in the moisture. Should keep for a few days, but in reality will only be in existence for a couple, and then only if you are truly resistant to its charms.