This is a terrific cake and in its simplest form as listed here, it is perfect with a cup of tea. I don't see any reason, though, why you couldn't serve it as a dessert cake, still very slightly warm from the oven, with a bowl of sweet strawberries and softly whipped cream or Crème Anglaise. The cake is best on the day it is made, ideally before it gets completely cold, which is possible with this cake, as it is neither iced nor filled, just sliced and eaten. It is still excellent the next day and will happily keep for a few days after that stored in an airtight container.

Rory says, "This is a terrific cake and in its simplest form as listed here, it is perfect with a cup of tea. I don't see any reason, though, why you couldn't serve it as a dessert cake, still very slightly warm from the oven, with a bowl of sweet strawberries and softly whipped cream or Crème Anglaise."

"The cake is best on the day it is made, ideally before it gets completely cold, which is possible with this cake, as it is neither iced nor filled, just sliced and eaten. It is still excellent the next day and will happily keep for a few days after that stored in an airtight container."

Ingredients

  • As with all cakes, free range eggs make a big difference to the flavour, texture and colour of the finished cake
  • 100g butter
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 150ml full fat milk
  • 100ml cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/ gas 6.
  2. Line a loaf shaped cake tin, 30cm long x 10cm wide x 7cm deep with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the butter over a low heat until liquid and allow to cool.
  4. Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer or use a hand held electric mixer and whisk until the mixture is pale, light and air filled. This takes about 10 minutes.
  5. To check that the mixture is ready, using the whisk, lift a little of the mixture out of the bowl and allow it to drop it back in gently in a figure of eight. It should visibly hold that shape for a few seconds.
  6. Gently pour the melted butter and grated lemon zest over the mixture followed immediately by the sieved flour and baking powder.
  7. Using a heavy rubber spatula, fold the ingredients together with a light hand - but making sure the dry ingredients are properly mixed into the wet.
  8. Gradually incorporate the milk, cream and vanilla, again with a light hand to attain a smooth thick, batter like consistency. Don't be alarmed if the mixture looks strange when you add the milk and cream: just keep mixing and it will come together perfectly.
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top lightly and place in the preheated oven to cook for 40 minutes.
  10. Test the cake to check it is cooked by inserting a thin metal skewer into the cake and withdrawing it. If the skewer emerges clean, the cake is cooked, if it is sticky or moist, the cake is not and should be cooked for a further 5 minutes before testing again.
  11. Place the cooked cake, still in its tin, on a cooling rack and allow to settle and cool for 15 minutes. Lift the cooling cake out of the tin still in the parchment paper and replace on the cooling rack to cool further.
  12. This cake tastes great while still slightly warm. Serve the cake just as it is, cut into neat slices, about 2 cm thick or with seasonal fruit and cream or Crème Anglaise.
  13. If you are not using the cake immediately, leave it in the parchment, allow it to cool completely and then wrap, with the parchment still on, in plastic film and place in an airtight tin or box.
  14. For Anise Seed Cake: Add 1 teaspoon of anise seeds to the cake with the flour and baking powder.
  15. For Cherry Cake: Add 100g of washed and quartered organic glace cherries to the sieved flour before adding to the cake mixture.
  16. For Lexia Raisin Cake: Add 100g of lexia or other good quality raisins to the sieved flour before adding to the cake mixture.