Oh dear, it’s been over a month since I last did a bake! That’s pretty bad, but at the moment days seem to be turning very quickly into weeks. I usually have Sunday and Monday’s off work and when Monday evening comes around I can hear myself saying “I can’t believe it’s Tuesday tomorrow already!”
There’s another reason I haven’t really posted on the blog recently. I was meant to graduate from University in November. Unfortunately, I failed my last ever essay by 4 marks. At first I was incredibly upset and angry. It took me a long time to come to terms with this and to start moving onwards and upwards. I was able to appeal for a third attempt and so whenever I have had time to write, on top of working full time, I was writing an essay rather than baking or writing a blog. However, today I submitted it after months of help from my mum and dad. My essay writing has always been too descriptive rather than critical and so I had to pretty much learn how to write critically. Funny how I managed to get through three years of university without failing a thing though… anyway!
I had my last therapy session of the year last week and it was really nice to go over everything I have achieved in this year, from the little things to the bigger things. Reflection is super helpful when feeling low, as it can show you where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.
This bake is a little special as my dad asked me to make it for my step-mums 60th birthday! His request “a lemon cake.” Because it’s a special event, and because I’ve not baking in a while I wanted to do something a bit challenging. Now, her birthday event was actually a surprise, she thought we were coming round for drinks and nibbles on the Sunday, when in fact we came round on the Saturday with friends and family.
I decided to do a three layer cake, two lemon and one chocolate. On the Friday I made the cakes and icing, on Saturday morning I made some meringue kisses and decorated the cake ready for the afternoon.
100g Dark Chocolate
200g Plain Flour
4 tbsp. Cocoa
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
Heat a fan assisted oven to 180 degrees Celsius, then line and grease a 20cm spring cake tin. In a bowl over a pan of boiling water melt the butter and chocolate together and weigh out the dry ingredients. Bring the melted chocolate off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Pour in the melted chocolate into the dry ingredients and mix well. It will resemble soil, but don’t worry, once the eggs are added all will be well. With the mixer on a low/medium speed crack in the eggs one at a time then add the vanilla. Mix well.
Pour the mix into the cake tin and bake fore 40-45 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.
2 tsp Baking Powder
400g Self-Rising Flour
This recipe is enough for two 20cm tins.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well on a medium speed. Gradually add the dry ingredients whilst the mixer is still going. Keep mixing whilst you zest and juice the lemons. I used all the zest of 6 lemons and approx. the juice of 4 lemons.
Evenly distribute the mix into two pre-lined cake tins and bake for 45-50 minutes. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes still in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Swiss Meringue Icing
7 Egg Whites
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
This is an icing I have never made before and was really excited about trying! It turned amazing and I was really proud of it. Unfortunately when I went to ice the cakes the next day, after leaving the icing in the fridge over night, I did not beat it for long enough and so it appeared a bit lumpy… still tasted great!
For this recipe the butter needs to be cold but soft. So before I started I took it out the fridge and cut it into cubes, therefore it was the right temperature for when I needed it. In a bowl over boiling water, whisk the eggs whites and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is warm to touch. Transfer this to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on a medium to high speed for 10-15 minutes.
Change to the beater attachment (I don’t know the correct term…) and on a medium speed add in the butter one cube at a time. This does take a long time because each cube of butter needs to be fully incorporated into the meringue before added the next one. However, this was incredibly therapeutic.
As I said before I left mine in the fridge overnight to use the next day. Before using, it needs to be beaten for a long time to get it back to a smooth texture.
For my meringue kisses I used 2 egg whites and gradually added sugar until I reached the correct consistency. Once pipped I sprinkled crushed pistachios over them. Bake at 100 degrees Celsius for 1 hour and allow to cool fully before using.
Now that I have all of my elements made it’s was time to stack and decorate the cake!
Trim the tops of the cake layers so they stack well and aren’t wobbling about. I poured over some simple syrup to make sure the cakes stayed moist. I started with a lemon cake, a layer of icing and some lemon curd. Look how annoying the lumpy icing is… I will make it again and it will be fabulous. Repeat this with the chocolate layer and then top with the second lemon cake. I added some dowels, which aren’t necessary but I wanted to make sure the cake would survive a car journey to my parents house! Add a layer of icing on top and around the sides. I decorated with a ring of meringue kisses and small dots of lemon curd, and of course a bit gold Happy Birthday sign!