I woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain. Although for most of my life I’ve been used to this – I’m originally from the UK – it’s a far more unusual prospect now that I’m based in Southern California. Despite being a significant downpour, it wasn’t associated with anything threatening (strong winds or a storm), and looking out over my backyard at the rain and mist actually made me feel warm, cosy and nostalgic for home. This could only mean one thing… Suited to both my mood and the weather, it was time to bake a lemon drizzle loaf.
I’ve been baking this cake for so many years now that I can no longer remember where the recipe came from. It’s hand-written on a scrap of paper that I keep along with other much-loved recipes in a tatty old file. What might seem to be a random collection actually consists of recipes selected for me over the years by family and friends who wanted to share something they had made, or knew that I would like.
Lemon drizzle loaf has always been a favourite of mine. It’s quick and easy to prepare, and baking it leaves the kitchen smelling glorious. It’s a classic teatime cake that on a cold day goes excellently with a mug of anything hot, and today I enjoyed it with some ginger and lemon tea.
Of course there are many versions of this favourite treat, and this one definitely reflects a personal preference that not everyone may agree with. But the recipe below makes a cake that is definitely, wonderfully lemony, and which is light and airy whilst still being moist. There are some who like to add a glaze or even some lemon icing to the top of the loaf – but that’s just too much sugar for me. If you like it a little less tart then you can always reduce the amount of lemon zest, but there’s a lot of sugar here too so it should be fine for most people. Go on. I dare you!
Recipe: Lemon Drizzle Loaf
6oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
6oz caster sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons (preferably organic and unwaxed)
3 medium eggs
6oz self-raising flour, with a pinch of salt
6oz icing (powdered) sugar
75ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 ½ lemons)
Grease a 1 litre loaf tin and line with baking paper
Pre-heat the oven to 325°F / 170°C / Gas Mark 3
Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until it’s smooth, pale and fluffy. Add the grated lemon zest, and then beat in the eggs. Do this one at a time, following each with a third of the flour (with the added salt).
Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smooth the top with the back of a metal spoon, and bake in the pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes (until a skewer or cocktail stick inserted into the middle comes out clean).
Put the lemon juice and icing sugar into a bowl, stirring until it’s smooth. Use a skewer to make lots of holes in the top of the warm cake, making sure not to go all the way through to the bottom. Slowly drizzle the lemon and sugar mixture over the top, leaving it to soak in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, before turning it out and cutting into slices.