“You ran from Webmley?!”, exclaimed the friendly apron clad woman. Yes, we replied, seeing full well that she thought we were crackers. We had risen at 8.30am on a Saturday morning and ran through the windy sleet and snow to view a couple of marble tops that were listed on eBay not too far from where we live. Jack had forced me into my running gear and I plodded along the street behind him feeling a serious bout of misery coming on. It’s late March and barely above freezing. We had planned to frolick with friends this weekend but the weather is putting a stop to our will to venture out of our comfort zone.
We arrived home and I was thoroughly miserable. We cooked a delicious breakfast of eggs poached in tomatoes, which brightened up my mood slightly but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon a magical video by Nigel Slater that my day really started to kick into gear. I watched Nigel, sat on the floor with my back against the radiator, mouth open, and felt my spirits rise as I watched him work his magic and turn it into a lemon and thyme drizzle cake. He quite rightly exclaimed that he doesn’t feel right if there is no home baked cake in his house and I knew right then that this is what I would be doing with my day.
Unfortunately there was no thyme available in our local supermarket so we decided to substitute it with rosemary. We weren’t sure whether it would work but we at least knew that we liked the lemon and rosemary combination with savoury dishes that we have cooked before.
This cake turned out perfectly and I got the thumbs up from everyone in the house – one person even exclaimed that I could enter it into any competition and win! As well as substituting the thyme for rosemary, I also boiled the lemon syrup for much longer than the recipe stated. It was accidental – I forgot about it as it was bubbling away but I’m so glad that I did because it gave the top of the cake the most delicious crunch.
I think I have found my new staple bake.
Lemon and rosemary drizzle loaf cake recipe
200g/7oz butter – I used the new Clover block of butter
200g/7oz golden caster sugar
100g/3½oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g/3½oz ground almonds
4 free-range eggs
1 lemon, zest only
1 tsp rosemary leaves, chopped
For the syrup
4 tbsp sugar
2 large lemons, juice only
½ tsp rosemary leaves, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
1. Cream the butter with the sugar in a food mixer until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking powder then mix with the almonds.
2. Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating them in thoroughly each time.
3. Grate the zest from the lemon and mix it with the rosemary and stir into the cake mixture.
4. Gradually mix in the flour, baking powder and almonds.
5. Spoon the cake mixture into the lined tin and bake for 45 minutes.
6. For the syrup, dissolve the sugar in the juice of the lemons over a moderate heat and stir in the rosemary. Boil for 10 minutes until it becomes a thick syrup. As the cake comes from the oven, spike the surface with a skewer and spoon over the syrup.
Nigel Slater recommends serving with thick yoghurt. I can wholeheartedly agree with this.