It’s one of those happy serendipities that people seem to enjoy and appreciate homemade cakes as much as I like planning and making them. I sometimes feel almost guilty receiving thanks and praise when I truly feel the pleasure was all mine – it’s such a treat to have an occasion to bake for.
So it was with B’s birthday. Not long was it since I had read the latest Australia Vogue Entertaining and Travel and salivated over the lemon and berry cake Jo Miller and Juliet Robb shared in the story about their Long Track Pantry in Jugiong, New South Wales that there was this perfect opportunity to try it out.
I’m a big fan of cakes which use ground almonds, and a big fan too of citrus flavoured cakes, so this already had me sold on two counts. The addition of jewel-like and summery raspberries clinched the deal.
It’s a pretty easy recipe; one of those ones with melted ingredients which you can whip up conveniently quickly. I burnt mine at the edge a tiny bit but it didn’t matter an awful lot. I planned to do a lemon syrup to drizzle over and leave to soak in the day before, but in the event it was sticky and lemony enough already, so me not getting round to it was not too much of a loss.
Dense, crumbly, soft and moist, with tart sweet fruit flavours this is a cake for summer days or a taste of summer on not-so-summery days.
As for decoration it would have been a crime to cover the berries or detract from the lemon-ness with icing, so I opted for a cast of cardboard cutout dogs, a canine choir, to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in speech bubbles (B being rather a fan of dogs). Though I do say so myself, I was pretty chuffed with my inventiveness and the slightly absurd effect, which continued to make me smile the whole hour I waited for the birthday boy to return home.
Berry and Lemon Cake
(makes 1 x 20cm cake)
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup ground almonds
1 cup caster sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup raspberries (or seasonal mixed berries)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 20cm cake tin.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, then stir in ground almonds.
Place butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved.
Gradually mix butter mixture into the flour mixture until just combined
Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition
Pour batter into prepared tin and evenly distribute the berries on top (I attempted to spell out B’s initials, though it went a bit lopsided in cooking…)
Bake on middle shelf for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle withdraws clean.
Leave cake in pan and leave to cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and leave to cool completely.