Springtime Cake

My office held a charity bake sale to support Bloodwise, a UK-based blood cancer charity. The most common (or at least the most well-known) types of blood cancer are leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, but there are numerous others which this charity works to overcome. The theme of the sale was “Spring” (it being nearly the start of March) so no platelet or phagocyte themed cakes (sorry).
At any rate, it’s a worthy cause and an excuse to make a nice cake!
The combination of the words “spring” and “bake sale” said “lemon” to me instantly so I had a little look at my go-to BBC Good Food lemon drizzle recipe here; the key is always to quadruple the recommended amount of lemon and the best bit is the gorgeous flakey, lemony icing drizzle over the top.
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For this event, I thought something a little more ambitious was in order so the following contenders were considered:
1. Delia’s Iced Lemon Curd Layer Cake – As ever, simple, attractive, sophisticated.
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2. Jamie Oliver’s lemon drizzle cake for the birth of Princess Charlotte, which looks a bit like a nationalistic troll sat on it. An obvious winner.
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Naturally, I ignored the recipe and used the following adaptation:

Ingredients

  • 250 g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing, softened
  • 250 g self-raising flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • a liberal dollop natural yellow food colouring
  • 2 lemons
  • semi-skimmed milk
  • 3 tablespoons quality lemon curd
  • For the layers:
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 500 g marscapone
  • ½ a vanilla pod
  • 500g lemon curd
  • For the drizzle topping:
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • water
  • juice of 1.5 lemons
  • For decoration
  • Yellow and white fondant icing
  • Edible glue

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350ºF/gas 4. Grease two 20cm springform cake tins with a little butter, line the bases with greaseproof paper, then dust lightly with flour.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, making sure you beat each one in well before you add the next, then fold in the flour, food colouring and zest from 1 lemon. Add a splash of milk to loosen, if needed.
  3. Divide between the prepared cake tins, spreading it out well with a spatula, then place in the hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  4. Allow to cool slightly, then carefully turn out onto a baking rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, add the butter and beat until pale and creamy. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds and add them to the bowl. Add the cream cheese, finely grate in the zest of 1 lemon and add a squeeze of juice, then beat until just smooth – it’s really important not to over-mix it.
  6. Once cooled, use a thin, serrated knife to halve the sponges horizontally into rounds. Reserving the best looking sponge for the top (naturally), spread 1 tablespoon of lemon curd onto one of the cooled sponges, then layer over one-third of the icing. Place it, icing-side up, onto a cake stand. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, then top with the final sponge.
  7. To make the drizzle icing, sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl, then gradually whisk in 1 tablespoon lemon juice until it forms a good drizzling consistency, adding a squeeze more juice to loosen, if needed.
  8. Spread the icing onto the cake, dot over the lemon curd, then use a skewer to ripple it through. Scatter over a few edible flowers (if using), then serve.
Enjoy!

Decorating
To decorate, I wanted to follow the Jamie Oliver open looking cake to show off the layers but to make the most of the spring/floral motif on the top.
I went for some royal icing in yellow and white and some fairly standard flower cookie cutters (blossom, daisy and daffodil).
This part was an absolute mess. Not in terms of the outcome, but as anyone who has worked with royal icing will know, getting the correct temperature/consistency so it is firm and malleable and not a goopey sticky lumpy nightmare involves dusting everything with copious amounts of icing sugar (which gets everywhere too!) I will let the pictures do the talking for me with this one:
As you can tell from the image on the left, some more creative green designs were introduced before the spectrum was strictly limited to the duo-chromatic!
I think it looks lovely: really simple but effective and absolutely delicious. In order to ensure the decorations survived the journey into work I mixed up a hearty batch of lemon juice plus icing sugar drizzle to set the whole thing over night which added a real tang to it.
I also recommend this useful tutorial from Bev’s creative cakes if you want to be more ambitious than I with the daffodils:
 
One caveat I should mention at this point is that I did the entire thing, shopping and all, after work starting at 9pm on a Thursday, for a Friday bakesale. The whole thing, with more time and careful preparation, would have looked more professional I am sure, but for that fairly pacey schedule I am pretty pleased with the result!

Inspiration
In case anyone is in the Easter baking mood (hot cross buns, Simnel cake…) here are some floral inspiration pictures nicked from Pinterest to get the creative ideas going:
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