When I worked at Llewelyn’s, I would always start my day by making a lemon loaf. For the first two months, I had a gleaming lemon loaf with a perfect split down the middle. Life was good until all of a sudden, the timer on my oven went off and my typically perfect lemon loaf was flat. What had changed?
You’ll have to take a look in The Pastry Chef’s Guide to find out the full story, but there’s a strong life lesson in there.
Makes: 1 loaf
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45-50 minutes
Photography: Jessica Griffiths
Styling: Annie Rig
Season: Winter, Year Round
For the loaf:
225 g cups caster sugar
75 g stick unsalted butter, softened
100 ml double cream
180 g self-raising flour
pinch of fine salt
grated zest of 3 lemons
For the syrup:
75 g caster sugar
100 ml water
freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons
For the icing:
200 g icing sugar, plus more to taste
freshly squeezed juice of 1–2 lemons, to taste
Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C and line a 900-g/2-lb loaf pan with baking parchment.
Put the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or a mixing bowl. Beat together at a medium speed for 3–5 minutes until pale using the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric whisk. Don’t go mad and overwhip as this will affect the rise of the cake.
Melt the butter completely in a saucepan, then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
Pour the cream and butter mixture slowly into the egg mixture and stir to by hand or at a low speed combine.
Sift the flour and salt together, add to the egg mixture and fold through. Finally, fold in the lemon zest.
Pour into the loaf pan and bake in the oven for 45–50 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Meanwhile, to make the syrup, put the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring a little, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Allow to cool slightly.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan until it’s no longer hot to the touch but is still slightly warm. Poke multiple holes in the top of the loaf with a skewer and then pour over the warm syrup evenly. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
Make the icing by whisking together the icing sugar and lemon juice, adding more of less of each to taste. Brush this over the cooled cake and leave to set for 10 minutes. Turn out and serve! Store the loaf in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
We’ve got Rav to thank for much of our lockdown baking and new-found pastry expertise. The Pastry Chef’s Guide is the culmination of years of her working in some of London’s best bakeries and restaurants, garnering knowledge which she has put into a simple, hilariously funny book that is pretty much essential kitchen reading.