So here we are; spring has sprung! The cherry blossoms are out, the daffodils are saluting the sunshine, and we’ve had the few heady days of sunshine that will undoubtedly be reffered to fondly in hindsight as ‘summer 2012′.
For me, the spring breeze blows away the cobwebs of winter and draws in the light; light clothing, light colours, light food, and fluffy-like-a-cloud light cakes.
Gone are my darkest cravings for deep, dark, decadent chocolate cakes (we’ll see how long that lasts) and in comes the wish for something of a more delicate persuasion.
Now I don’t need much excuse to bring out the citrus fruits – in this case, an insanely cheap load of lemons from a local market, and a fancy for a breakfast treat. These muffins are just ideal with a morning tea or coffee; they’re light, yet moist, and not too naughty on the calories either. With yoghurt and lemon in them, I daresay they’re one of your five a day (ahem). At least.
The great thing about these is that they’re so easy you could practically do them while you’re asleep – which is what I usually am for the first two waking hours of every day. Perfect!
Lemon and poppy seed yoghurt muffins
- 260g flour
- 150g caster sugar
- 25g poppy seeds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarb
- 2 eggs
- 300g low fat natural yoghurt (full fat is fine too!)
- 100ml vegetable oil
- juice of 2 lemons, zest of one
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6. Line muffin tins with baking cases.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, seeds, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
- In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, yoghurt, vegetable oil, zest and juice of the lemons.
- Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined using an electric whisk or a wooden spoon (and a bit of elbow grease!)
- Spoon into the muffin cases until only just over half full, and bake in the pre-heated oven for 18-20 minutes until golden and springy.
This post showcases the first of three tantalising triple-layer cakes I’ve baked recently. Why have I baked so many of them, you ask? Especially when most people are on a new year, clean-eating-boot-camping-green-tea-swigging-booze-craving de-tox.
Well, there are two reasons; one, I prefer dirty eating – particularly in January and February, generally the coldest, most depressing months of the year. Secondly, when it comes to cake, I feel there are few things more satisfying than watching a cake slice gently glide through three decadent, fluffy layers of sponge, and lifting up a resplendent, towering triangle to endless ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s.
A triple layer cake should be a perfect symphony of lusciously light layers, moist-making filling, and an irresistible topping that come together to woo anyone within a 2-mile radius. Cheeky.
The first in this series is something of a classic, created by a classic – Delia Smith. It’s a zesty, light, and simply sublime lemon drizzle cake, sandwiched with homemade lemon curd.
The only thing I’d change would be to make it bigger (with good reason, honest) by upping the quantities – Delia actually cooks this in two tins before slicing them both in two, but I found that I didn’t get as much rise as I’d like to get four good layers. And – obviously – bigger is always better when it comes to cake!
I’d probably also change the fact that I made it after getting around 3 hours’ sleep due to being stranded after a night-out when London’s transport system decided it didn’t want anyone in north London to get home. But that’s another story!
Triple-layer Drizzled Lemon Curd Cake
Serves 10-12 generously
For the cake
- 1 lemon, zest only, grated
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 175g/6oz self-raising flour sifted
- 1 level tsp baking powder
- 175g/6oz butter at room temperature
- 175g/6oz caster sugar
- 3 eggs
For the lemon curd
- 1 large juicy lemon, grated zest and juice only
- 75g/3oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 50g/2oz unsalted butter
For the icing
- 1 large lemon- zest only
- 50g/2oz sifted icing sugar
- 2-3 tsp lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
- Measure all the cake ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat – ideally with an electric hand whisk – until you have a smooth, creamy consistency.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake them on the centre shelf of the oven for about 35 minutes or until the centres feel springy when lightly touched with a little finger.
- While the cakes are cooking, make the lemon curd.
- Pop the sugar and grated lemon zest in a bowl, whisk the lemon juice together with the eggs, then pour this over the sugar. Then add the butter cut into little pieces, and place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.
- Stir frequently with a whisk until thickened – about 20 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and after about 30 seconds turn them out on to a wire rack. When they are absolutely cold – and not before – carefully cut each one horizontally into two using a sharp serrated knife.
- Spread the curd thickly to sandwich the sponges together.
- For the icing, begin by removing the zest from the lemon – it’s best to use a zester to get long, curly strips. Then sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually stir in the lemon juice until you have a soft, runny consistency.
- Allow the icing to stand for 5 minutes before spreading it on top of the cake with a knife, almost to the edges, and don’t worry if it runs a little down the sides of the cake. Then scatter the lemon zest over the top and leave it for half an hour for the icing to firm up before serving.
I’m writing this to the soul-destroying background of Emmerdale, which will be followed by a torturous visit to Coronation Street.
This can mean only one thing; my darling motherbear is visiting. She’s also a recently-diagnosed diabetic, which posed an interesting challenge to a bake-aholic who likes nothing more than to welcome guests with a (large) slab of sugar-laden cake.
I tried searching for diabetic recipes, and I did find a few – some with granulated sweeteners, and others with honey or other substitutes. Some just had plain weird lists of ingredients. I’m not keen on the concept of artificial sweeteners – I get hideous images of gargantuan brain tumours just thinking about them – so I had a look on the Weight Watchers website instead, and found this low-sugar cake with only 4 propoints (160 cals) per serving; double win!
It’s definitely not the most delicious cake I’ve ever made, but for one with essentially a meringue base with a bit of flour, it’s pretty tasty – and quite light, too. Of course, a (low-fat) lemon cream-cheese frosting and tangy raspberries can hide a multitude of sins. Nevertheless, a rather lovely treat if you’re watching the waistline – and with only 75g of sugar, it could be a viable option for diabetics.
I would always recommend checking with the individual, though, as every diabetic is different in what they can and can’t eat.
Lemon and Raspberry cake
- 75g caster sugar
- 3 medium eggs
- 75g plain flour
- Zest of two lemons, squeeze of lemon juice
- 200g low-fat cream cheese
- 2 tbsp low-fat Greek Yogurt
- 2 tbsp lemon curd (this can be substituted for a good squeeze of lemon for less sugar)
- 75g raspberries
- Preheat oven to 190/170 fan/Gas mark 5/and line a 9 inch square baking tin.
- Whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, lemon juice and half of the lemon zest with an electric whisk for 5 minutes until thick, light and fluffy (just before they become meringue-like). I did this in a food processor with whisk attachments as my handheld is broken
- Gently fold in the flour with a metal spoon and spoon into the tin.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until firm but springy.
- Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon curd and remaining lemon zest until smooth. Chill in the fridge until the cake has cooled.
- Spoon over the frosting, smooth with a spatula, and decorate with the raspberries, pushing them down a little.