March is always a busy time for me as five of my closest friends all have their birthdays within a few days of each other so it means spending a lot of time making birthday cakes.
This lemon drizzle birthday cake was for my friend Nina which I decorated with the simple addition of rosemary, fresh berries and a little gold dust.
As the cake is pretty sweet, it’s a traditional lemon sponge soaked with a lemon sugar syrup, I added berries into the middle of the cake to balance out the flavour.
Not only do the colours look glorious when you cut into the lightly coloured sponge, they also provide a sharp flavour balance to the sweet lemon taste.
225g self raising flour
225g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
50ml milk, whole is best but semi skimmed will do
Zest of 2 lemons
250g unsalted butter, very soft
500g icing sugar
Four tablespoons of lemon curd (around 3/4 of a jar)
500g of fresh berries (I used blueberries and pomegranate)
A little edible glitter
Around 10 sprigs of fresh rosemary
The juice of both lemons
250g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 190C/180 fan/Gas 4 and line three 8inch cake tins with parchment paper.
Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and doubled in size, around three minutes with an electric whisker or five without. If using an electric mixer make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl so all the ingredients are well mixed in. Add in the eggs one at a time (if the mixture curdles throw in a tablespoon of the flour inbetween eggs) until the mixture is completely combined. Then add the lemon zest.
Sieve the flour into the mixture and carry on stirring until everything is combined. As you’re mixing, slowly pour in the milk, and when the entire mixture is combined, pour into the three baking tins.
Try and make the tins as equal as possible (you could weigh them if you’re the kind of person who will be annoyed with mis-matching layers) and then bash the tins a few times on a hard surface to remove any air bubbles.
Next pop them into the oven for 25 minutes. The sponges are done once they spring back when you gently press them, or a sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.
While the cakes are cooking make the syrup. On a gentle heat bring the lemon juice, water and caster sugar to the boil and leave to simmer for five minutes. When the cakes come out of the oven, prick all over with a sharp knife or skewer and pour in the syrup mixture.
Leave to cool completely before the icing stage. While you’re waiting for the cakes to cool make your icing. Beat together the butter, milk, two tablespoons of lemon curd and sugar until it forms stiff peaks. It should be thick – like soft butter – and the longer you beat it for the smoother it will become, around five minutes with an electric mixer.
Next assemble your cakes. Spread a thick layer of icing on the first layer of sponge. Cut a circle out of the second layer (I use a cookie cutter for this) and then place it on top of the first. Fill the hole with 3/4 of the fresh fruit, and then cover with another layer of the icing.
Place the third sponge layer on top and then cover the whole cake with a thing layer of icing. This is the crumb coating which will make the final layer of icing look even better. Pop the whole cake in the fridge for an hour.
Give the icing a mix if it’s hardened, take the cake out of the fridge and cover the whole thing with a second layer of buttercream and then add the rosemary, fresh fruit and glitter.