Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
110 g butter, softened and diced
110 g caster sugar
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
150 g plain flour, sifted
0.5 tsp baking powder
1 tblsp milk
20cm (8") diameter spring-form/loosebottomed cake tin
175 g icing sugar
2–3 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Line the base of the tin with a disc of baking parchment and grease the sides with butter.
Place all the ingredients for the cake in a food processor and whiz for 1 minute or just until the mixture comes together. Alternatively, cream the butter until soft using a hand-held electric beater, then beat in the sugar and lemon zest, whisk in the eggs one at a time and fold in the remaining ingredients. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing over the top with a palette knife or the back of a spoon.
Place in the oven and bake for 30–35 minutes or until golden on top and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool.
To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add just enough lemon juice to make a soft icing with the consistency of thick double cream. (Too thick and it won’t ‘self-spread’, too thin and it will run off the cake and onto the plate beneath.)
Place the cake on a serving plate and tip the icing into the middle of the cake, allowing it to spread itself, then cut into slices to serve.
Rachel’s tip: If the icing is a bit stiff and won’t spread easily, dip a palette knife in boiling water and use this to gently smooth the icing over the surface of the cake.