A few weeks before I came back to Switzerland, I watched the Cakes and Pastries episode of Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets BBC series. I adore his programmes - his sheer enthusiasm and love for food is wonderful to watch. Though many of the recipes from the show called to me (I used his chocolate crème pâtisserie recipe to fill my last croquembouche), I really wanted to make this lemon cake. I bookmarked the recipe and waited till I got back here.
The day I decided to make the cake I sat down and properly looked at the recipe for the first time. Something seemed wrong - I thought that the method had been more complicated on TV, that perhaps some of the ingredients were whipped to give volume. The recipe didn't state this and I couldn't re-watch it as iPlayer only works in the UK.
So I asked one of my mum's lovely friends to watch the section on the cake and report back (payment in cake to follow). He confirmed that the method was indeed that simple but in doing so, mentioned that on TV Raymond added lemon juice to the mixture. That wasn't in the recipe and the juice of 3 lemons is a lot of extra liquid. I googled the recipe and found a few other blogs that mentioned the discrepancy but nobody had an answer.
And so - in true 2011 style - I tweeted Raymond himself, asking if juice should be added or not. To my utter surprise, he replied:
@poireschocolat You can choose: adding lemon juice makes it more lemony but perhaps a little more dense. It's delicious either way! Best RB
At this point I got pretty excited that RAYMOND BLANC had sent ME a message. I turned hyper and babbled about nothing else for several hours. Twitter has proved itself to me. The next day I went about making the cake, using the juice of one lemon. It was delicious. Even though my glaze doesn't look as perfect as Raymond's.
Also, I was recently honoured to be included in the pastry section of the Culinary Arts College roundup of Voilà! The Top 40 French Cooking Blogs. Have a look - some wonderful blogs are included.
(adapted from Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets, see here)
For the cake:
240g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
300g caster sugar
140ml double cream
zest of 3 lemons
juice of 1 lemon (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp dark rum
80g butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 26x9x8cm loaf tin. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl whisk the eggs, sugar, cream, zest, juice, rum, salt and melted butter together. Whisk the sifted flour into the wet mixture. Pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown, cracked and a toothpick comes out cleanly. Take out of the tin and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Don't turn the oven off yet.
3 tbsp apricot jam
juice of 1 lemon
150g icing sugar
While the cake is cooling for 10 minutes, warm the jam and then sieve it. Brush the entire cake with the jam and then leave to set for 5 minutes. Heat the juice and icing sugar until they become a clear syrup. Brush the cake with the syrup and leave to set for 2 minutes. Place onto a baking tray and put back into the oven. Turn the heat off and leave to dry for 5 minutes. Take out and leave to cool before eating.
(Makes about 12-14 slices)