Lemon is a classic flavour for a cake and works well for a crowd as everyone loves it.
Recently I baked a cake for my friend Fiona’s birthday party and needed something that would feed around 30 people.
I chose a light lemon sponge cake, filled with raspberry jam, and covered in buttercream.
On top of the cake I put a selection of seasonal flowers which I’d bought from a local florist. I much prefer using fresh flowers and I think they look a lot better than anything synthetic but they do have a rather short shelf-life.
If you can, leave them in the fridge for as long as possible and then place them on the cake at the very last minute to avoid them wilting.
Ingredients… (9-inch cake tin)
325g self raising flour
325g caster sugar
325g unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 large eggs, at room temperature
100ml milk, whole is best but semi skimmed will do
Zest of 2 lemons
For the icing:
250g unsalted butter, very soft
500g icing sugar
Half a jar of raspberry jam
A selection of fresh flowers
juice of 2 lemons
How to make…
Preheat the oven to 190C/180 fan/Gas 4 and line three 9inch 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 35 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 you’re waiting for the cakes to cool make your icing. Beat together the butter, milk, juice of the 2 lemons 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.
When the cakes are cold, pile them on top of one another, filled with a healthy layer of raspberry cream and buttercream.
Next cover the entire cake with buttercream in a thin layer. Pop this into the fridge for an hour and then cover the cake with another layer of buttercream. If you’re short on time you can skip this stage but it will make the final cake look a lot better and smoother.
When the cake is covered, use a spatula to smooth the sides and cover up any bits where the cake is peeking through.
Set aside until you need it, before serving pile on your fresh flowers.