Why “Valentine” ? This recipe was inspired by one that Valentine Warner did on “What to eat now” – a seasonal ingredient cooking programme that I particularly enjoyed. Courgettes are one of those veg that go a tad prolific in season – you pick a load for dinner and by morning you could be having the next lot for breakfast. This version of the recipe is quick & easy – great for a veg side dish, a salad for summer buffet, and combines quickly with other veggie dishes too.
Lemon Drizzle Cake
This recipe is based on one from “Supper with Rosie,” my current favourite cookbook. In turn, her recipe was inspired by Cranks, which was my first ever favourite cookbook in the 1980s. So, strong Drizzle Cake Foundations, and Rosie’s addition of lemon icing as well as drizzling is definitely A Good Thing!
I’m more likely to have lemons in stock than limes, so in this version I’ve dropped the lime. If you have a lime, it subs for one of the lemons in the cake / drizzle ingredients.
Lemon Drizzle Cake (Serves 10-12)
For the cake
125g butter at room temperature
2 small lemons
225g caster sugar
3 large eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
4 teaspoons natural yoghurt (or cream)
For the drizzle
Juice of lemons zested for the cake
3 teaspoons caster (fine) sugar
For the icing
180g icing sugar
Sprinkling of poppy seeds
First, check you have the right size loaf tin! The quantities here need a 30cm loaf tin, a 2lb tin – it’s a big ‘un!
Grease and line your tin, get the oven up to 180C.
Using an electric hand whisk, whisk up the butter until light and fluffy. Add the caster sugar and whisk again. Add the 3 eggs and whisk again until light and fluffy. That’s your whisking bit done.
Grate in the zest of 2 lemons, and put the naked lemons aside to juice later. Add the poppy seeds and yoghurt (or cream if you don’t happen to have yoghurt in stock) and mix in lightly. Add the self raising flour. Fold in lightly with a spatula.
Transfer the mixture immediately to your loaf tin, and bake in the oven at 180C for 45 minutes (Aga roasting oven with cold shelf for 35 minutes, then check and finish in simmering oven if need be).
Once the cake is cooked, (e.g. a skewer stuck into the cake comes out clean etc. etc.), leave it in its tin on a cooling rack whilst you rustle up the first drizzle:
Juice the two zested lemons, and put juice plus three teaspoons of caster sugar into a saucepan. Warm over a low heat until the sugar is melted, then pour over your warm cake. If you have an URGENT need for Lemon Drizzle Cake, probably best to stab the cake a fair bit with skewer first so that the drizzle can get into the cake quickly. If you have planned in advance, feel smug – and just pour the drizzle over the cake to seep in gradually.
This is one of those cakes that does actually taste better the next day … but let’s face it, waiting till the next day is not always going to happen, is it??!
Leave the drizzled cake to cool, and when cool turn it out on to your serving plate.
To make the icing, add the zest and most of the juice of one lemon to your icing sugar. Mix well to get read of any lumpy bits, and get the consistency right: Ideally, runny enough to ooze over your cake, but not so runny that it floods off the cake on to your plate – add a little more lemon juice if need be. Once satisfied, pour the lemon icing rustically over your cake, sprinkle with poppy seeds, and if you still can resist, leave it for an hour or so for the icing to set a bit.
For walks, I make this cake the night before so the syrup has overnight to soak the cake. I add the icing first thing in the morning, and it’s safe enough to slice and pack into a container by the time we’re off walking.
Time for your self
Find out more
Take one new recipe book purchased in a lovely Hay-on-Wye bookshop by the lovely Melanie. Add one brief browse through to choose what cake to bake for our final evening of a wonderful week’s retreat at the farm. No dulce de leche toffee stuff in the larder? Easy, the sauce from our sticky toffee pudding recipe will do perfectly. What’s more, as well as putting toffee into the cakes, we’ll pour toffee all over them too. And so, the banoffee cakes were born. And eaten.
Banoffee Cakes (Makes 12)
225g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5tsp bicarbonate soda
150g caster (fine) sugar
2 ripe bananas
2 medium eggs
4 tbl yoghurt
½ tsp vanilla essence
110g Brown Sugar
First make the toffee sauce: Gently melt the butter & brown sugar in a non-stick pan, and stir until the sugar has all melted. The butter is unlikely to get absorbed, don’t worry about that. Just get the sugar melted, then take it off the heat, beat in the double cream. It’ll all look & smell irresistible. However, resist and put to one side.
Now for the cake:
Pop cases into a 12-cake muffin tray.
Mash the bananas to a pulp. Beat the eggs.
In a big bowl, mix together all the dry stuff – the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and caster sugar.
Melt the butter on a very gentle heat – you want liquid yellow butter, not burny brown butter.
When you’ve got everything ready, add the bananas, eggs, yoghurt, vanilla and melted butter to the flour etc. and beat briefly until all combined.
Spoon the mixture into your 12 cake cases.
Add a teaspoon of the toffee sauce on top of each cake. It doesn’t need to look pretty, its job is to seep through your cakes as they cook.
Bake in the oven at 190C (Aga roasting oven with cold shelf) for 15 minutes, then check them and turn the tray around if one side is going browner than the other. They should be done after 15-25 minutes depending on your oven.
Turn the cakes out on to a baking rack to cool (or get nearly cool if someone is already pleading for afternoon tea.)
Put them on a plate, drizzle with the toffee sauce – which will probably overflow with happy toffeeness… and eat.
Time for your self
Find out more
Please share if you like this post – share the cake!
Simple Slow Roast Belly Pork
Delicious, easy, a discovery waiting to be made…. Have you got this lovely roast in your repertoire? The first time I cooked belly pork, I tried a recipe that suggested a high temperature and roast for an hour. Nope, wrong, tough as boots, it seemed to actually require some proper cheffing! No thank you. Follow the advise of my wise friend who knew the magic, easy way: Use a low temperature and hours of slow cooking. The pork falls of the bones, is full of effortless flavour, and to date I have had at least one vegetarian asking for seconds (sorry).
Simple Slow Roast Belly Pork (serves 3-4)
1kg Belly Pork, on the bone (ask the butcher to score the skin)
3 carrots, peel and chopped in half lengthways
3 sticks celery, washed and chopped in half
2 red onions, peeled and halved
Sprig of fresh sage
1 bay leaf
Sprinkling of fresh rosemary
Red wine (optional)
First step is to rub the pork belly with salt and pop into a hot oven, uncovered for about 20 minutes. If you’re using an Aga, put it skin side down in your roasting pot, on the floor of the roasting oven. Otherwise, put it skin side up with the oven temperature at 200C.
After 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 140C. Lift up the pork, pop your prepared vegetables and herbs in the pot, sit the pork back on top of the veg, add a splash of water, and seal up the pot with foil and/or a good fitting lid: You want to keep all the moisture and flavours in.
Cook in the oven at 140C for 4 hours (Aga simmering oven), or an even lower temperature (110C) for longer.
Half an hour before serving, remove the skin from the pork. It will probably lift off, but if not just slice it off gently. Put the skin on a baking tray, and put it back in the oven at maximum (200C or more). I’ve never sussed reliably perfect crackling, but this seems to produce something pretty good every time 🙂 Just keep an eye on it and take it out of the oven before it carbonises.
Whilst your crackling crisps up, put the pork onto a warmed serving dish, together with the carrot, celery and onion. Keep it warm to rest.
In the roasting pan make a nice little gravy – remove the big herb sprigs, add a little balsamic vinegar, splash of red wine. Boil it down so it thickens a bit; or add a bit of cornflour, or that gravy powder that makes you go Aaaah, mixed with water.
Don’t even think about tidy carving, this is a flakey, spoon and fork sort of roast. Serve with roast potatoes, braised red cabbage with apple, green veg, and whatever wine you didn’t consume whilst making the gravy.
More to… Mountain Retreats
Space to breathe, time to think and lovely home cooked food
Where to start… this has been so what I needed: The views, the ambiance, the ‘away-from-it-all-ness,’ the wonderful food that so calmly and magically appeared, the log fire…. You have created a perfect space for people just to be – thank you so, so much. It’s been a joy to relax with other people ‘just being’ and have your quiet, wise support. The perfect recharge, refocus, relax…