Wednesday, 12 October 2011

You put the lime in the coconut... or cake: Lime Drizzle cake

As regular readers will know I have the innate ability to fangirl; Idina Menzel (should I ever brave a stage door after she performs), Michael Crawford - I actually spoke to him, and of course Jonathan Groff (although that's less fangirling, and more just friends chatting about Mary Poppins). I feel a little like recent posts are tending towards the fangirly of Vanessa Kimbell. Her book Prepped is beautiful, and recently she's provided me with inspiration for the Guides through her Random Bakes of Kindness, and now a drizzle cake, that she posted on her blog in response to my request for a recipe I could amend to a lime drizzle one last weekend.

As I may have mentioned whilst normal, sane people spent last weekend in the sunshine, getting their last dose of vitamin D - Louise and I were in the kitchen baking. After our epic work on the Christmas cake fruit we began two cakes, a lime drizzle and a chocolate beetroot cake. As my first random bake of kindness I gave Louise half of each, and Mark ate a lot of the rest.

My request was in order to use up some limes I had bought when reduced, thinking that my Worldfusion Taste team challenges would require them, as it was I hadn't felt the need to add extra zing to any of the meals so far so they were lingering in the fruit bowl and starting to look a little sad. Vanessa's recipe was a Tangerine and cardamom cake, but I replaced the tangerine with lime and omitted the cardomom - after much sniffing of the jar and trying to work out if it went with the fresh lime. Our conclusino was no, but I am inclined to try it just to see.

Vanessa's recipe is here but this is what I did with the limes...

Lime sponge

Finely grated zest of 2 limes
200g unsalted butter, cubed and softened

200g caster sugar

3 medium eggs
175g self-raising flour
25g cornflour

Lime syrup
Zest and juice of 2 limes
5 tbs caster sugar

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. I used the fan in my oven as I don't know how to turn it off(!)
2 Grease a 20cm, round, loose bottomed cake tin and line with baking parchment.
3. Place the sugar, softened butter and lime zest in a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric hand mixer The result should be pale in color, with a really light and fluffy texture. I hadn't thought of adding the zest to this stage of the mix previously, but the vigourous mixing releases the oils from the zest into the mix thus making the final sponge much more limey.
4. Add the beaten egg,
5. Sift and fold in the flour, the mixture is thicker than a regular sponge batter, but this is what you want for the end result.
6. Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 35–45 minutes until it is shrinking away from the side. Test it with a skewer to see if the mixture is cooked in the centre; it should come out clean or with crumbs, not with any mixture. Remove from the oven and, if it is done, prick all over with a cocktail stick about 20 times.

As an aside, this week Dan Lepard had tweeted about taking cakes out a little earlier than usual as they continue cooking in the tin from the residual heat - I tried it out with this, taking it out after 35 minutes and the sponge was lovely and soft. It was a complete fail with the beetroot chocolate one though so the jury is still out on that one - in this house at least.

7 Squeeze both limes and pour the juice into a small saucepan, 5/6 tablespoons of caster sugar. Heat and stir for about a minute until dissolved.  A bit like in preserving, you can hear and feel when the sugar is dissolved so don't worry about sugar thermometers.
8. Leave to cool, then drizzle the syrup over the cake, slowly, waiting a few moments before adding more, so that it all sinks in. It should leave a crust on the cake as the juices sink in.
9. Wait until completely cooled, then remove from the tin and transfer to a wire rack.

This cake is lovely, perfect with a cup of tea, and sturdy enough to accompany a packed lunch. Flavour-wise the freshness of the limes contrasts beautifully with the gentle sponge, and the sharpness of the pockets of syrup and sweetness of the crust juxtapose with the soft, dense cake beneath. This is definitely one of those cakes which improves the day after baking.

I would also say don't overestimate just how easy this cake is to make, it's quick and a really straightforward bake. Don't be put off by the use of sugar syrup it's so easy and goes down really well, I imagine it would be perfect if you need to take a cake into work - I'm already planning on making it again to take into Poole this week to thank someone for doing an enourmous amount of photocopying for me.

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