This recipe is pretty simple, but it does take time to make. You won’t need to stand in the kitchen for extended periods of time though, as you’ll mostly be waiting for cakes/icing to cool down before you can proceed with the rest of the recipe.
(Makes 8-10 slices)
For The Sponge:
225g Unsalted Butter
225g Caster Sugar
225g Self-Raising Flour
4 Medium-Sized Eggs
1 Lemon’s Finely Grated Zest
For The Icing:
300g Icing Sugar
3 tbsp Boiling Water
1 Lemon, Juiced
Preheat your oven to 180°c before you start anything else. Now you’ve got the hard part out of the way, make sure your butter is at room temperature, or at least soft enough to be workable (the microwave is a viable option). Measure out the sugar and the butter into a mixing bowl, and cream together until it thoroughly combines. This step is a lot simpler if you have a mixer of some description. I don’t as I’m living in the stone ages. To combat this, there is a cheat you can do if you don’t want to cream sugar and butter together for ages.
If you combine the sugar and butter and add in your eggs and whisk, you can simulate what you’d be doing if you had decent cooking equipment. It turns out it’s a lot easier to whisk a loose liquid than it is to mix two thick substances with a spoon. Who knew?
Note: If you have a mixer, you can add in everything all at once and mix to save time and effort. The ‘all-in-one’ method is completely viable.
Once you’ve creamed the sugar, butter, and eggs, you can now sift in your flour. Before you mix, add in your finely grated lemon zest and save yourself some time.
Mix this just enough to incorporate, and stop when you think it looks like cake batter. This is what cake batter looks like:
You’ll need to line the bottom of your cake tin with parchment paper so it doesn’t stick. The best way to do this is to keep hold of the butter wrapper and use the remnants to lightly grease the tin – this will allow your parchment to sit nicely in place.
When you’re confident that everything looks as it should, pour the batter into your cake tin. You’ll need to smooth the mix out to achieve even cooking – the best way to do this is with a tablespoon.
Once you’re happy with your newly acquired qualification as a plasterer, you can get cooking. Put your sponge into the centre of the oven, cooking at 180°c for 18 minutes. Make sure you don’t open the oven door for any reason, unless you’re feeling a little sadistic and enjoy wasting your time ruining cakes.
When the 18 minutes are up, you’ll need to turn the oven down to 150°c and continue to cook for 8 minutes. This helps to cook the inside of the cake without browning the outside more than what is necessary. When the time comes to remove your sponge from the oven, you’ll need to leave it in the tin for 10 extra minutes. You can tell when a cake is cooked because it comes away from the sides. However if you’re unsure and you don’t trust this recipe, you can always poke it with a skewer in the centre to see if your cake is adequately cooked.
Prepare a sheet of parchment paper that is big enough to comfortably cover your sponge. Once the 10 minutes of tin resting is over, place this additional parchment over the top and flip the tin over (as pictured) onto a baking tray or whatever you have that is flat and will comfortably fit in the fridge. The reason for flipping is to flatten the top as much as possible to give a consistent shape to your sponge when you portion it later on. Place in the fridge for at least an hour.
It isn’t completely necessary to do this next step, but feel free to join my wasteful habits in order to create the Mr Kipling effect. Now your sponge is cold enough to work with, trim the top to create a flat surface. You’ll be pouring the icing on top of what was the bottom of the cake in this instance – trimming the top as best as you can will result in a better-presented sponge.
The icing is the easiest part of this recipe – you don’t even have to sieve the icing sugar (I learnt this because I’m lazy). Simply combine your weighed out icing sugar with the hot water and lemon juice. It will be difficult to whisk at first, but should all come together nicely once the liquid is incorporated. Add extra water if needed, but bear in mind that you will need to have the icing thick so it sets nicely at room temperature.
Once you’re happy with the consistency, pour it over your sponge. Make sure it covers the sides (obviously) and that it’s coated as evenly as possible. You can tip the tray while holding onto the parchment underneath the sponge to manipulate the icing. Refrigerate again for another hour or so.
Now comes the fun part where you get to eat the trimmings. Using a serrated blade, square off your cake. You can then portion your slices in whichever shape/size you like – I went with 8 rectangles.
You can stop here if you can’t be bothered to wait any longer. However, I felt the need to pipe some chocolate onto the top of mine to make them look slightly more edible. I did this by taking 50g of milk chocolate and microwaving it in the piping bag. I zigzagged the chocolate, but you don’t have to commit to such a crazy act if you don’t feel like it.
As a side note, I made the cakes pictured in support of the Alzheimer’s Society. It’s a worthy cause, and it’s a great way of raising money while eating cake. It’s a win-win really.