20 February 2011

Butter Lemon Cake with Ginger Beer Icing

We've been a little lemon-obsessed here recently. Only a couple of nights ago we ate lemon and mushroom carbonara, and my 100th post meal was chicken with a lemon-basil sauced pasta. When Tom washed up this morning, he smelled the leftover lemon juice and declared that he wanted a lemon cake. Given that a couple of weeks ago I vowed to make cake fortnightly (and then completely forgot about it), this seemed like a good cake to start with.

Thin, subtle and buttery, with a completely-unintentional crispy bottom (and an icing disaster which turned out to be not-so-catastrophic after all), I could eat a lot of this cake in one sitting. It's not horrifically sugary or lemony, and there's a very slight tang from the ginger beer spice-mix. The spice mix, incidentally, is one my mother bought at Habitat and sent me. The ingredients list is "ginger, sugar, cream of tartar," so I imagine a tiny bit of ginger and cream of tartar would be the non-pre-bought-mix equivalent.

This isn't strictly an original recipe of mine, but I did have a very specific list of ingredients in my head  - coconut milk, butter, eggs, fresh lemon - which didn't match any recipe I could find. Hence the following is a hodgepodge.

Butter Lemon Cake with Ginger Beer Icing
Makes 1 20cm square cake

For the sponge:
1 cup butter
1.5 cups brown sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coconut milk
1 lemon

For the icing:
1/2 cup butter
80g icing sugar
1 teaspoon ginger beer spice mix
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons cream

Cream together the butter and sugar for the cake.

Separate the eggs and beat the yolks together, reserving the whites for later. Add the beaten yolks to the creamed butter and stir through.

Add the flour, baking powder and coconut milk to the batter and continue stirring until everything is smoothly incorporated.

Zest and juice one lemon, and add all of this to the batter. Stir through.

Beat the egg whites until they are white and foamy. I believe the original recipe for this part of the instructions said to beat 'until stiff,' but I couldn't be bothered to do it by hand, and even after a minute in the blender they weren't showing any signs of solidifying at all, so I just cut my losses. Fold them into the batter.

Grease a baking pan, or your new red silicon baking tray, and pour the batter in. Cook at 180 degrees (360 Fahrenheit) for twenty to twenty-five minutes.

Serendipitous Mistake #1:
At this point I put the cake in the oven and completely, utterly did not realize that it had been left on the 'grill' setting. The cake was grilled for twenty minutes from above, leaving the top of the cake almost (but not quite) blackened; I then realized what had happened and turned the lower heating unit on and the upper one off, and let the cake cook for another ten minutes. Luckily, this meant that when turned out, the bottom of the cake was crispy and actually really nice. The top was very slightly undercooked which added to its moistness.

In the meantime, make the icing. Cream butter with icing sugar. Add the ginger beer spice mix, or a half-teaspoon each of ginger and cream of tartar. Zest the lemon half and add this zest, reserving a little for sprinkling over the finished cake.

Add cream to loosen the icing to its proper texture - I needed two tablespoons of cream, although you may need more or less.

Serendipitous Mistake #2:
I can't imagine why I would have done this, but I didn't bother waiting for the cake to cool before I put the icing on. The icing, shockingly enough, completely melted. We allowed the cake and icing to cool together, scooping and scraping the icing back across the cake as it re-solidified. Luckily, this meant that the finished sponge marinated in lemon butter for a while, which I think really added to both its moisture and flavour.

Spread icing on top of the cake. Sprinkle with lemon zest and serve.