Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy
There need not be anything hard about baking. I am a great believer of baking uncomplicated recipes that simply deliver on appearance, and ultimately taste. As an amateur, home baker, my main aim is to enjoy myself, and make others happy with the results. Therefore, I often use the same classic recipe, matched with a foolproof method, but experiment with flavour and design.
My basic sponge recipe is easy to remember, with the appropriate name of ‘Devil Cake’ recipe; 6oz butter, 6oz caster sugar and 6oz self raising flour. Added to these ingredients are 3 eggs, a dash of milk, and your flavours of choice.
Using these measured ingredients, I have created an abundance of delicious cakes, from the classic Victoria, through to blackberry and apple crumble cakes, all of which were simple and easy to make. Having used this indispensable recipe so many times, I have developed a foolproof method to combine these ingredients, producing fantastic light and fluffy results.
It is easy but essential to first refine your baking skills, before experimenting yourself with flavour combinations and additional ingredients. So here are a few hints and tips from my baking experience that result in the perfect bake:
- Invest in digital scales – at the end of the day, baking is a science. Therefore, measuring correctly is quite essential.
- ‘Cream, cream, cream’ – I swear by the ‘creaming method’ in which you combine butter and sugar first, before folding in the other ingredients. This allows you to cream the two ingredients together for a very long time, giving a light and fluffy texture. I always use a mixer to achieve this texture, and often leave it mixing for a good 5 minutes whilst I have a cuppa!
- Add flavours early – when adding flavours to this recipe, do so at the creaming stage. This vigorous mixing allows spices and essences to fully disperse throughout the mixture. If you plan to add more delicate flavour carriers such as fruits, leave this to the ‘folding in’ stage.
- Adding the egg – when combining the eggs into the creamed butter and sugar, always sprinkle in a little flour – this ensures the eggs do not curdle the mixture. I add one egg at a time, and once each egg is broken into the mixture with a little flour, put the mixer on a fast setting for about 20 seconds, until the mixture returns to a smooth consistency.
- Use an ice cream scoop – to help with the uniformity of my batch, when making individual cakes I use an ice cream scoop to ensure the mixture is divided equally.
- Use quality ingredients – the quality of ingredients will greatly influence the final taste of your cake. One of the most important ingredients is your eggs – I only use locally sourced, free range eggs. The difference that this makes to the colour and taste of your cake is quite significant.
My latest recipe; Lemon Meringue Dreams, is the perfect example of how such a simple recipe can produce quite impressive results. With a delicious homemade lemon curd, a fluffy, light sponge, and gooey meringue topping, these cakes are sure to impress! It really is easy peasy lemon squeezey – try for yourself!
- 2 lemons – zest and juice
- 100g caster sugar
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 whole egg
- 2 egg yolks (reserve the whites for your meringue topping)
- Place the lemon zest and juice, sugar and butter in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (ensure that the bowl does not touch the water). Allow the butter to melt, occasionally stirring the ingredients.
- Lightly whisk the eggs before pouring in the melted lemon mixture. Whisk carefully whilst you pour in the warm mixture to ensure you do not scramble the eggs. Pour all of the mixture, once combined, back into the heat proof bowl, before returning to the heat.
- Allow to cook and thicken over the heat – this takes around 10 minutes. Once the curd is of a consistency in which it covers the back of a spoon, remove from heat and allow to thoroughly cool – this could take a couple of hours. Stir occasionally to help with the cooling process, as well as ensuring the curd remains smooth.
- 6oz Unsalted butter
- 6oz Caster sugar
- 6oz Self Raising Flour
- 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
- 3 free range eggs
- 2 Tbsp milk
- ½ lemon – juice
- 2 egg whites (reserved from lemon curd recipe)
- 100g caster sugar
- Pre heat the oven to 180ºc/Gas 5. Place the butter and sugar ideally in a food mixture, and combine on a high speed for 5 minutes – the mixture should appear light in colour, and fluffy in texture. In the last minute, add the vanilla essence and the lemon juice slowly to ensure you do not curdle the mixture.
- Add the eggs one at a time, along with a sprinkling of flour. Slowly combined in the mixer, before increasing the speed for 20 seconds to whip the egg,s and smooth the mixture – repeat after every egg addition.
- Fold in the flour, along with 2 tbsp milk, until the mixture appears smooth and glossy. Using an ice cream scoop, divide the mixture into a greased mini cake tray, or cupcake cases. Cook for 15 minutes, or until golden brown, and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
- Leave to cool – to ensure the cake is completely cooled before assembly, use a sharp bread knife and cut the cakes in half (if you used cupcake cases, remove and discard of cases). Once completely cooled, put your cooled curd on the bottom half of your cake before placing on the cakes’ lids ready for the meringue.
- Place the egg whites in a food mixture with a balloon whisk attachment. Whisk the white until they appear white and fluffy – very soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar, spoonful by spoonful, allowing the caster sugar to incorporate before adding the next. Whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form.
- Spoon into a piping bag with plain nozzle, before piping generously onto the cakes. Finish by browning the meringue with a blow torch, or carefully placing under a grill for a few minutes (careful not to burn your cakes – blow torch is best).