Zesty, easy-to-make favourite

I was asked recently what ingredient I could not live without. I had no hesitation in answering ''lemons''. Their intense, clean fresh flavour adds zing to so many dishes.

In this superbly moist and aromatic cake, lemon is the star ingredient. Orange flower water highlights the floral notes of lemon and softens a little of its sour acidity. Intensely lemony, almost mouth-puckeringly so, this gorgeous easy-to-make cake is a great favourite.


Lemon drizzle cake

Lemon really is the star of this lemon drizzle cake. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Lemon really is the star of this lemon drizzle cake. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

180g caster sugar
2 size 7 eggs cup
⅓ neutral oil, such as rice bran
grated zest of two lemons
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp orange flower water (optional)
⅓ cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
200g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking soda

Lemon syrup

¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup caster sugar



Preheat the oven to 180degC.

Line the base of a 20cm-round cake tin with non-stick baking paper and lightly oil the sides.

Measure sugar, eggs, oil and zest into a food processor and process until pale and creamy.

Add lemon juice, orange flower water (if using) and yoghurt and process briefly.

Add flour and baking soda and pulse until you have a smooth batter. To make without using a food processor, beat the sugar, eggs, oil, and lemon zest together until thick and creamy. Add the lemon juice, orange flower water if using and yoghurt and stir. Sift in the flour and baking soda and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. If the cake is browning too much in the last 10 minutes of cooking, cover with baking paper.

While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. In a small bowl stir together the lemon juice and sugar. The syrup is not heated and the sugar will only partly dissolve. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately drizzle the cold syrup slowly and evenly over the hot cake, trying to let the middle absorb it, as well as the sides. I sometimes puncture the top of the cake all over with a skewer, piercing right through to the base, before drizzling the syrup over. However, I don't think it helps the cake to absorb the syrup any more evenly or efficiently. Try it if you wish. Let the cake cool completely in the tin.

Run a knife around the edges to loosen. Carefully turn the cake out, peel off the baking paper and then turn right side up. I like to decorate the top of the cake with lemon leaves and flowers but if you don't have a lemon tree in the garden, scatter with viola flowers, rose petals or two or three nasturtium flowers. Serve just as it is or with whipped cream or Greek yoghurt. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Cuts into 12 slices.

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