A Spring Lemon Cake

Spring keeps teasing us here in the northeast; it comes for a few days, entices us, and then it shyly retreats leaving us to wear long sleeves again.  We have had some perfect spring-could-be-here weekends. I can’t get enough of it at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden where every day it seemed a new bud opened; the air was perfectly scented of a perfume I have sought my entire life and have yet to find in a bottle. I felt inspired to start spring cooking and baking.

Then I left New York early last week for 30 hours of work in Denver, where they were also in the lush glow of an early spring with warm air deep into the evening. I returned to New York to find the spring I had left behind was coyly hiding again behind gray and cooler skies. This weekend has been a reminder of what we will soon leave behind with damp clouds overhead.

This past Saturday was my mother’s birthday and feeling that tug of spring I decided to bake a lemon cake that would bring the sun out of hiding from anywhere. The recipe I decided on came from one of my favorite cookbooks Fuel for your Family; it is a cookbook I picked up in a small wool and local goods shop in South Canterbury New Zealand. I love everything I have made from this cookbook from a vegetable crumble perfect for the heart of winter, to a carrot feta and harissa salad, and a chocolate bread and butter pudding with honey-roasted pairs. Yum, I will have to share all of these recipes here someday.

The cake I decided on was a simple one. One of the things I like about this cookbook is that it celebrates simple food cooked well but is about the age old from farm (or sea) to table approach. The cake itself is light and airy with just a suggestion of lemon and the glaze or syrup that goes over it is like a perfect glass of lemonade—the compliment of sweet and tart with the scent of fresh lush lemon. It sings of spring and light and I do believe if it can’t call the sun out it will at least make you believe the sun never was far away. I know my mother would have loved this cake. I listened to her friend Bloch’s cd of music she made annually for my mother’s birthday, this one with If I Had A Million Dollars, Feeling Good Again, and Hallelujah on it.

I hope spring is finding all of you and I encourage you to break out those baking pans if it has or hasn’t and bake yourself a little piece of spring with this cake!

~ Ramona

Lemony Lemon Cake:

The only draw back of using this cookbook is the entire thing is in metric, which means I have to do math while baking, always a little tougher than a simple follow directions. I have included both the original metric and the amount I used below.



125 grams (1/2 a cup or 1 stick) of butter

250 grams (1 cup – I ran a little light on sugar as I tend to) of castor sugar

2 eggs

185 grams of self-rising flour (I used 1 cup flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder with pinch of salt)

½ cup milk

Zest of 2 lemons


60 grams (1/4 cup) castor sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). Grease a loaf pan. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time and beat after each addition. Sift flour; add alternately with the milk (I did this as a ¼ cup of flour and a ¼ teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt alternated with an 1/8 of a cup of milk) to the butter, sugar and egg mixture. Add lemon zest and mix well. Pour mixture into tin and bake for 40 to 45 min (mine took closer to 50 min), or until a skewer comes out clean.

While cake is baking mix lemon juice with extra castor sugar and set aside. Do this early so the sugar can partially dissolve.

When cake is cooked, leave in tin and pour lemon/sugar mix over cake while still warm. Leave to cool before slicing. Enjoy it with a big smile.

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04 2012

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