Monday, 14 April 2014
For three years during uni, I worked in a tea room. Every morning we would freshly bake rounds of scones, fluffy Victoria sponges and fat wedges of chocolate cake. All of the recipes were beautifully simple and whipped up in a matter of minutes. I've carried this ethos with me, since before then, that a cake should be baked with love, and the rest will come together itself. My dad shares this mindset, over the years extolling the virtues of my simple sponges and, when they came out flat like pancakes, reminding me 'that's just the way I like them!'. I like to think it's been a while since I made a flat cake and so it seemed fitting for his birthday yesterday that a simple cake, baked with love, would be what he would get. I flicked through a cookbook in the hope of finding something just a little bit fancier for a special day, but in the end, a classic lemon cake was 'just right' for the occasion.

I can make this cake with my eyes closed and even though it comes together in less than 15 minutes, those 15 minutes are utterly relaxing in that way that things are when you are utterly confident in what you are doing. No quibbles about the butter being too soft or not quite enough flour left in the half-empty packet at the back of the cupboard. Such is my familiarity, the recipe can be adjusted in a heartbeat because, oh no! we only have 2 eggs or someone's swiped half the butter for a round of Saturday morning toast. And so, as sure as the combination of sugar, eggs, butter and flour will create the comforting cuddle of a cushion of soft sponge, so will my dad respond with love for the daughter who bakes him the world's easiest cake, even if it comes out a little burnt around the edges.

To make, cream 175g of caster sugar with 175g of softened butter. Add 175g (see the pattern here) of self-raising flour and three eggs. Beat together until smooth and pour into a buttered cake tin. Pop in an oven pre-heated to 180C and bake until the top is just starting to turn golden and a skewer or knife comes out clean from the centre. Small, thin sponges for Victoria sponge should take about 15 minutes, depending on your oven, but I should think a 'normal' cake would need 40 minutes. I flavoured my dad's 62nd birthday cake with the zest of a couple lemons and stuffed it with buttery lemon curd and pillowy clotted cream. To make a moist and sticky lemon drizzle (my boyfriend's favourite), turn out the finished cake onto a plate while still warm, poke lots of holes with a fork and then slowly spoon over the juice of a few lemons mixed with a couple tablespoons of caster sugar. Allow the cake to drink in the syrup and serve immediately - also lovely when cooled, if you can wait that long.

Like all cakes made with love, this one's a little scruffy, but I know my dad will love it like he has loved all the ones before it.

I've added this cake to my frugal recipes tag because it is so cheap to make, literally less than £2, and makes the perfect 'waiting for payday' indulgence or a warm, fuzzy treat for friends.


  1. I love lemon flavoured cake. Might have to try this sometime ;)

  2. I love lemon flavoured cake. Might have to try this sometime ;)

  3. lemon drizzle is one of my favourites but that lemon curd and clotted cream combo sounds lush!