Lemons are one of my favourite fruits. Although we have our own lemon tree growing in the backyard, I love receiving bags of juicy, golden lemons from friends and family. There's always so many different uses for them, both sweet and savoury, as the feature ingredient or as a flavour enhancer. I lean towards the sweet side of things when using lemons. In winter, lemon delicious is one of my favourite desserts, with a creamy, custardy lemon sauce hiding beneath a golden sponge topping. I have several delicious lemon cake recipes to choose from, including a lemon and yoghurt version and a magnificently huge, dense lemon sour cream cake. And nothing beats a slice of lemon tart with double cream on the side.
Having received a generous bag of lemons recently, these are some of the lemon dishes we've been feasting on. Of course, lemons are great to have on hand so that the zest or juice can be added to seafood or chicken dishes. When we're getting near the end of the bag, I like to make up lemon curd to use in cakes or tarts, and a hot lemon drink is a great pick-me-up when I feel a cold coming on.
I've been making the following lemon cake for at least 15 years. It's a Beverley Sutherland Smith recipe from an afternoon tea cake feature in Epicure in The Age, probably in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and it quickly became a family favourite. It's a wonderful soft, buttery cake with the sweetness offset by the tart lemon flavour. A sticky sugary syrup on top means there's no need for icing. This is a great morning or afternoon tea cake.
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
grated rind of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
grated rind 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup caster sugar
Butter the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin. Line the base with non-stick baking paper and butter this also. Preheat the oven to 180-190 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon rind and juice and mix well.
Sift the flour and baking powder over the top and add, alternately, with milk. Spoon into the tin, smooth the top and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 170 degrees and cook for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
To make the topping, mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar has softened. Spoon over the top of the cake while still warm.
The recipe says to let the cake cool completely before cutting but I find I can't resist slicing off a piece of warm cake - there's nothing better than a slice of warm cake fresh from the oven!