With a week to go until we could cut into the home-made traditional parkin, my choice for the second bake of the week was a cake. This time I opted for an early recipe in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible which was Lemon Yoghurt Cake. I’ve never used yoghurt in baking so was quite intrigued to see how this would turn out – it promises to be a moist cake (apologies to any-one who finds this word offensive – I know there’s a lot of you out there) which should be kept in the fridge and eaten within a week.
On the surface, it appears to be quite a simple bake – the sponge itself contains sugar, softened butter, eggs, greek yoghurt, lemon zest and self-raising flour. It’s a case of combining the ingredients together before adding whisked-up egg whites. Egg whites are a raising agent (they are the key that make soufflés rise) and so by gently folding them into the cake mixture, you should therectically achieve a well-risen cake. Self-raising flour (as the name suggests) also helps your cake to rise. After the disaster that was the Victoria Sponge, I was nervous about baking another flat cake and so double-checked what baking tins I had before-hand and luckily I found one in the cupboard which was the same size as the one Mary advises.
The cake mixture came together really quickly so this is an ideal recipe if you’re looking to make a cake in a hurry – the trickiest bit was trying to whisk up the egg whites into soft-peaks and very carefully fold them in – this is crucial because if you knock the air out of the whisked up egg whites then you’re likely to have a pancake-looking cake.
Although the cake mixture takes very little time to whizz up, the cooking time takes a while – it bakes at 160 fan for 1- 1 1/4 hours. To my overwhelming relief (I don’t think I could deal with two flat cakes in a fortnight), the lemon yoghurt cake successfully rose in the oven. It was on taking the cake out of the oven where the first hitch cropped up. That was forgetting to grease the sides of the baking tin in my jubilance of successfully incorporating the whisked up egg-whites into the mixture. This resulted in me trying to tease said lemon yoghurt cake out of the tin for around 20 mins, using a few choice words and praying that it wouldn’t remain stuck in the tin. Thankfully after MUCH coaxing and help from Richie, I managed to get the cake out and let it cool on a wire rack.
Once cooled, I turned my attention to the lemon icing – which is simply lemon juice and icing sugar which you make into a (slightly) runny paste and pop on the top of the cake. The actual cake doesn’t taste all that lemony – it’s very subtle but the icing is where it really packs a punch. To make my cake extra zesty, I decided to add some candied lemon peel to the top (decorating a cake, is possibly my favourite part). I followed an online recipe and added lemon zest with sugar and a splash of water and let it bubble away over a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Clearly though, the heat was a little too high because instead of my lemon zest turning a translucent shade, I made a sticky lemon peel caramel that set like a rock as soon as it hit the baking paper.
Undeterred, I managed to fashion it into a sort-of-ring on top of the lemon icing. Although it ended up looking quite pretty, I must confess that on attempting to eat the caramel-candied-lemon and essentially gluing my teeth together, I subsequently removed this topping to avoid losing a tooth and having to book an emergency dentist appointment while in lockdown. That aside, I think this is my favourite recipe I’ve made so far and have been enjoying it as a post-run snack with a cup of English breakfast tea.