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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tea & Bakes Guest Post by Vulnavia Vanity

Let us introduce to you, a wonderfully elegant Tea & Bakes post from Vulnavia Vanity...

I have always been a fan of lemon drizzle cake, but I never truly discovered my passion for it until this summer.

I was out in town on a date of sorts with an old lover, and we decided to stop for a bite to eat in a darling little café on the side of the road..

Being the indecisive soul I am & offered the choice of endless amounts of cake and pastries, I pondered for a few a moments or so and then decided to join my companion by purchasing a slice of his favourite cake, Lemon Drizzle.

Sitting at a high table, fashioned from old mobile phone fascias, we waited and spoke politely until the cheery waitress brought over our cake and beverages. I ordered a green tea and he a chocolate milkshake, the sweetheart.

I sunk my fork into the moist, yet firm sponge, through the thick layer of lemon-crystallised sugar and put the piece of cake between my salivating lips. There really is nothing compared to the sour tang of lemon, blending gracefully with the sweetness of the sponge! Euphoria.

I washed this down with a sip of my hot tea and the delicious contrast between the bitter and the sweet was to die for. I find the powerful taste of green tea often compliments a sweet dish with a finesse that most other beverages cannot begin to dream of accomplishing.

It was a perfect day. The sun was shining and I was eating cake with the boy I loved.
And this is why lemon drizzle is so special to me.

A few weeks and endless heartbreak later, I revisited the cake with my own hands, along with my partner in crime Delilah, a pro-baker. The sun was shining ever-so brightly. This is a rare occurrence in Devon, so we made it our business to organise a picnic. We ended up with another two guests, which was quite useful, as we have four very twee glass mugs that are excellent for such an occasion.

Cake time. First we consulted the trusty 'Crank's Recipe Book' to look for a recipe, but to no avail. Failing this we consulted the internet, only to come across some much more disturbing ideas, such as the best way to cook and serve a baby:

Secondly and I find much more disturbing is a recipe by 'Simon Rimmer':

I can't handle the description: "Simon Rimmer scores a lemony hat-trick"
I would never, ever trust Mr. Rimmer's lemony hat-trick.

Cranks had failed us & the internet too. It was time to resort to a little improvisation, using my favourite basic sponge recipe as a basis:

Lemon Drizzle Cake á la Vulnavia & Delilah - Floral Delight

See how they bloom! Very English flowers. Despite this, I can feel Hawaiian breezes blow.

150g Butter
150g Sugar
3 Eggs
1-2 tsp Vanilla Essence (optional, for taste)
175g Self Raising Flour
3-4 lemons

1. Turn on your oven to 180c/Gas Mark 4.

2. Measure the butter (softened) and sugar, mix them together perhaps with a whisk, until the mixture is as light and fluffy as a cloud. We want the finished product to be anchored, yet buoyant, no?

3. Next, we must add the eggs and vanilla. Whisk it quick! We don't want a curdled disaster. Make sure it is well mixed and creamy, scraping all the excess on the side of the bowl.

4. Now we must add the flour, little by little, through a sieve, folding with a wooden spoon as we go until is all mixed into a thick, yet still liquid substance.

5. Next wash your lemons, and grate them with the tiny side of a cheese grater and gather all the zest. Once you have done this, throw it into the mixture and mix away.

6. Finally, juice the lemons and pour the good stuff into the bowl, ensuring you don't put any seeds into it. The last thing we want is choking guests at a tea-party, unless of course you are only inviting people you don't like, in which case, seed to your heart's content. Check the mixture is still thick and if you wager it is too thin, add a little more flour until you have found the right consistency. It must be light enough to rise, but heavy enough to set! Also, do have a taste. If this citrus invasion is not enough for you, do add more. The mixture is finished! Voilá!

7. Next, quickly grease a cake tin, or vessel of your choice (we used little Chinese takeaway style containers and they worked a treat!) pour in the mixture and leave it in the oven give or take 20 minutes until golden brown/hot all the way through (test with a fork). Do not open the oven for at least 15 minutes or your baby will not rise!

Do not lick the bowl, we haven't enough time! You can do that later! It's time for a spot of gardening now.

We can't have a Floral Delight cake with no nature on it! Remember though, don't use flowers that have been grown with pesticides! Yuck!

Here is a small list of garden flowers that are safe to eat:

Primroses (a beautiful classic)
Hyssop flowers & leaves (should be avoided by pregnant women, those with hypertension & epilepsy)
Bachelor Buttons
Lemon Gem
Mint leaves

Do improvise with different tastes, but it is imperative you check the plant is edible before you chow down.

Is the cake done yet? Check and if so, then take it out to cool down.

Now we will make the drizzle. This step will be played by ear a little, because we do not want a thin layer of 'ponce-crisp'. No we do not. We are strong boys and girls with good strong teeth and we want the kind of lemon & sugary goodness that we can crunch into.

Put the juice of about three lemons onto the hob at medium heat and stir together with a generous amount of sugar until it becomes hot and sticky. Make sure there is enough before pouring onto the cake and spreading with a knife to cover the whole treat.
Once this has dried, release your Inner-Goddess and create your personal Garden of Eden on the sponge. Don't be afraid to be bold and beautiful! That's what the flowers are for. The cake is complete! Feed it to the special people in your life.... ♥

When we made these cakes for the first time, we had to go on a little floristry mission in my garden (& my absent neighbour’s, because we are cheeky).

When I showed Mamma Vanity the picture her reaction was not:

"What beautiful cakes!"

Like one would expect any decent person to say, but in fact she asked:

"Are those my bloody primroses??"

Some people, huh? Yes they are your primroses and they were delicious and there are so many more in our garden.

They went down a treat and we ate them all along with our cucumber sandwiches and home-made lemonade. Here is the beauty in the process of devouring:

And there you have it. The perfect addition to a picnic, a sweet tantalising pleasure for a summer’s day.

And in the words of Derren Brown:

"Have your cake and eat it... there's no other reason to have a cake!"

Thanks sweetie...

Chin chin...

1 comment:

Helen said...

That's a fab story :) and i LOVE lemon drizzle cake but never been brave enough to make it!

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