Cake for the troops

Slice of lemon heaven

Slice of lemon heaven

 

So what has happened this week? Snow happened. Bitter cold wind, rain, hail and snow. You did not want to be outside and if you did or have to be, you didn’t really want to be out for longer then about a half an hour. Unfortunately for the other half, he was on what is called ‘exercise’. He is in the military and when they do training they go ‘into the field’ for a week or weeks at a time. It means that they go to a field, forest, mountain and train there, whatever the weather and with very little sleep. Sometimes they dig holes to sleep in, other times they have a plastic sheet that they sleep under. If they are lucky there might be a barn nearby.

As this week started to get closer and the weather got colder, while I got excited, he got gradually a little more grumpy. Still, it is a week away from the office which is a bonus and I think he secretly loves and misses it.

Anyway, me thinking of food, decided that I would bake him and his troops something for when they got back. Any excuse to bake…

So rifling through my baking books, I decided on a Lemon drizzle sponge. I decided to fill the inside with lemon buttercream and the outside with regular vanilla buttercream.

 

The book I got it from is called The Cake Decorating Bible, by Juliet Sear. Another Christmas present. It is a fabulous book made by a cake shop called Fancy Nancy. It has a few recipes in it and lots of great tips and hints for decorating and baking. What is unbelievably useful about this book is that they convert the amount of ingredients according to the size of your tin. It is fantastic. In this case I used a 9inch cake tin.

I decided to just follow the recipe this time, as I am saving my major creative juices for Valentine’s Day.

Ingredients:

550g softened butter

300g golden caster sugar

300g soft light brown sugar

10 lemons, zested

10 eggs, beaten (the recipe said more, but I thought it was a little excessive)

2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

500g self-rasing flour

Oven temperature 180 degrees, 1hr 45minutes ish

For the Lemon Syrup:

100ml caster sugar

100ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (6 or 7 – just use the lemons that you used for the zest)

grated zest of 2 lemons (i just used some of the zest from the ten lemons)

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line your cake tin with baking paper.

Zest all your lemons!

photo-59

 

Be careful not to grate yourself. Self-explanatory? Tell that to my hand.

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Now the syrup. Mix the sugar and lemon juice in a small pan and bring gently to the boil. I found that this took quite a long time, you don’t want it to burn of become lumpy so you need to stir it occasionally. As soon as it starts boiling, take it off the heat and cool slightly before putting in the lemon zest. Leave to infuse while making the cake.

On to the sponge. beat the softened butter, sugars and lemon zest together until the mixture is soft and fluffy like a care bear. Add your eggs in quarterly, mixing each in completely before putting more in. If it starts to separate, don’t panic just put some of your flour in.

Get your flour and start to add this in a quarter at a time, again, mixing well. They say to mix slowly as the sponge turns out too chew if your put the mixer on high speed.

Spoon the mixture into your lined tin, pushing the mixture to the sides.

Three clever tips from the book:

1)Line the sides of your cake tin higher than the tin so that the cake will rise high.

2)Pushing the mixture to the sides of the tin will help with the rising, so that it will rise high.

3)FANTASTIC TIP – create a well in the middle of the tined mixture, so to stop the cake rising higher in the middle than the sides.

The last tip I thought was so great. It is so simple and I always used to ponder how I could stop my cakes growing so unevenly.

photo-62

 

In the oven. Make sure you keep an eye on it. After half an hour or a bit longer you may have to put some tin foil over it to stop it from burning.

Once cooked turn out on wire and take off the baking paper to let the steam out. I then cut the cake in two. Now, get your syrup and cut or skewer small holes in the cake and soak them with the syrup. Word of warning- you don’t want it to get too soggy, you just want the cake moist. Leave to cool.

Icing:

Vanilla buttercream

250g unsalted butter

500g sifted icing sugar

2 tsp vanilla essence

should make about 750g

 

To make the lemon one, follow the above recipe and then mix 200g of lemon curd into it. In this case, I made one batch of the vanilla buttercream and just took a little of it for the middle and threw in some lemon curd.

Mix butter and vanilla essence until fluffy. Then add the icing sugar in quarters again, mixing slowly to begin with so not to spray your kitchen – something I struggle with! Once all icing sugar is in, keep mixing for a couple of minutes.

One of the best bits of baking surely?!

One of the best bits of baking surely?!

Now all you have to do is ice the inside of the cake, sandwich the two parts of the cake together and then ice the rest of the cake and voila!

OM A NOM A NOM

OM A NOM A NOM

I am glad to say that the troops loved the cake and it was gobbled down in seconds!

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