Thursday 7 April 2011

Raymond Blanc's Lemon Cake

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:

@ 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.

Lemon Cake
(adapted from Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets, see here)

For the cake:
240g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 eggs
300g caster sugar
140ml double cream
zest of 3 lemons
juice of 1 lemon (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp dark rum
pinch salt
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. 

To glaze:
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)


  1. Congratulations on being amongst the top 40 Emma. Told you that you need to start a bakery soon. I recently made a lemon cake it! And love Twitter too!

  2. Yum! This looks absolutely delicious!
    And also - very jealous that Ramond Blanc messaged you! Wow! Reminds me of the time Manu Feildel (a pretty big celebrity chef here in Aus). Unfortunately we were fully booked and didn't have a table for him, but that didn't stop me from blushing and giggling and squeeling like a school girl.
    Looking back, I'm a little ashamed of myself. :P

  3. I love lemon cakes and your cake looks wonderful! :) I am gonna try the recipe soon ;)

  4. I saw this on the show and it looked sooo good, I've been meaning to try it since. Thanks for clearing up the discrepancy!

  5. Massive jealousy re: Raymond. I love him. Actually adore him with every fibre of my being. Cake looks good too!

  6. Oh my dear that is awesome! To be mentioned in the same category as David Lebovitz is a huge achievement, indeed! :)

  7. that looks divine, love lemon. yumm

  8. Your lemon cake looks heavenly! I'll have to tip toe on over to my neighbor's lemon tree this weekend.

  9. Emma! Amazing he twittered you back! I emailed an admirer, also whom I thought would never email back - and was SO excited when they did!

    I love lemon cake - and make a tried and trusted recipe from my mum! Adding a layer of lemon curd through the middle makes an extra special one too!

    Do you know of the English Be-Ro baking book? We used to always cook from that in England, and now I'm studying in Lisbon, Portugal, I love to cook from that my English favourites!

    I made your chocolate puddings the other day too - delicious! Thanks x

  10. Oh lemon. My Kryptonite. I've never used apricot jam in my lemon glazes, and I'm kicking myself now. Next time! I'll probably use the juice of all three lemons as well, because the lemon addiction can never truly be sated. Yours looks so soft and bright, it's irresistible!

  11. first congratulations on the mention, is so nice to receive recognition for something you are so passionate about, right?.

    second, well, this recipe looks great and also great is RB answering you on twitter. How modern is that??.

    third fun fact, my hubs (he's a french pastry chef) worked with RB at Le Manoir aux Quat Saison, but he had never cooked something like this for me :( I might be the one to surprising him!

  12. I wish I had read your blog before trying out the lemon tea cake 3 times!!!!! now i will only use 1 lemon for the juice and not three, perhaps on the 4th occassion it might cook through!!!

  13. I saw this episode too and was asking me the same about the lemon juice. Internet is great, isn't it!

  14. This looks amazing!! And lemon, with tea....nommers!

  15. Hi Emma. Thank you for the recipe, and the lovely photos! I tried baking it today but I had a few problems. I was wondering if you could help me find out where I went wrong. I used the juice of one lemon, baked it at 180c for 55 minutes, but the texture was very rubbery and dense. Could the problem have been using the peel of waxed (rather than unwaxed) lemons? Any help would be appreciated! I will attempt it again soon.

  16. Would be interested in your reply to the comment from Ruby A.

  17. Ruby A & Anon - Apologies for the incredibly late reply. I doubt waxed peel would have made much difference. I'm not sure to be honest - it is a dense cake, especially with the added lemon juice. My guess is that you were expecting something lighter - it's almost heavy - you don't get any volume by whipping the eggs or creaming and there's not much baking powder. I haven't eaten it over a year so I can't remember it 100% but perhaps it was that.

  18. Hello! Wonderful blog, Im just sad I only just found it! I tried this recipe today.. Lovely flavour but the inside was stodgy, I think that one less egg and more baking powder may be answer. I went for the juice of two small lemons. I realise its meant to be dense and Ive had one from an amazing French patisserie, which I have been desperate to recreate ever since! Did anyone have more luck?

  19. Oh dear, I'm sorry to hear that. I wonder if it was a bit undercooked? Did a toothpick come out cleanly from the middle? I haven't made it for a few years so I can't be very specific. As Raymond said, the extra juice does make it denser - perhaps try it with the juice of one lemon?

  20. I remember watching this cake being made on TV - and have wanted to make it ever since - now I have a birthday cake to make, decided to look it up. What I remember particularly, from the TV programme, was Raymond's emphasis that he ONLY used the zest in the cake, not the juice. I remember this because I felt slightly disappointed. a) thinking it might not be lemony enough and b) because my family hate zest in things and pick it out! And it is one of the reasons I hadn't made the cake before now. I just watched the Youtube video and was surprised to see this bit wasn't mentioned - I think it has been edited and the voice-over is incorrect. The zest was used in the cake, the juice was used in the icing. Too much liquid could make it not rise I reckon. However, anyone wanting more lemony flavour could substitute the rum for lemon juice (hence a little is better than the juice of 3 lemons, keeping the liquid content correct). Hope this helps! As for me - well I am making a cake in a bundt pan for a birthday cake and wanted something a bit more interesting than plain sponge cake - so am going to try it without the zest and lemon juice to replace the rum (as 5 year-old will hate bits of zest in it!). Fingers crossed.

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  22. I would be grateful for a little bit of help with one ingredient. I don't want to use alcohol, can I just omit the rum altogether or should I replace with something and if so, what?

  23. I totally understand - I very rarely use alcohol in cooking now. I think in this case I would leave it out entirely. Hope that helps.


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