Welcome back! Where has the time has flown to? March is here and I still have not started my New Year’s Resolutions. I think they will have to wait until Easter which always seems a good time to plan new beginnings.
At the time of writing the sun is shining, a perfect time to have a break from the kitchen and do a bit of cultivating in the vegetable patch. I’ve dug out the cloches for some early sowing, put in some shallots, bought my seed potatoes and planned the planting for the year ahead.
One fruit that I wish I could grow with abundance all year round is the lemon. My fruit bowl is never without a few of these beautifully versatile balls of goodness, they are used in my kitchen more than any other fruit in both sweet and savoury dishes.
A squeeze of lemon on lamb will lift the flavour to a different level. Always partnered with roast chicken, squeezed over the skin with a little olive oil and plenty of seasoning will give you deliciously crispy skin full of flavour.
Tucking a lemon into the cavity before roasting will help keep the chicken moist and juicy.
I use preserved lemons for stews and tagines, lemon juice for pick-me-up teas in the winter and lemonade in the summer. This humble little citrus fruit goes into salad dressings, chutneys and of course lemon curd.
Then you have the whole host of other little jobs it does around the house, everything from getting rid of smells in the fridge, stain remover and pot cleaner.
And of course where would we be in the cake world without the lemon? Pancakes, lemon tarts, puddings and probably the most well known lemon cake of all, the lemon drizzle. This delicious version is generous with the drizzle and everyone’s favourite, young and old alike. Just the thing with a cup of tea after a couple of hours hard graft in the garden.
LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE
n 180g golden caster sugar
n 130g unsalted butter
n 2 large eggs
n 180g self raising flour
n Two large lemons (unwaxed or scrubbed if waxed)
n 60g granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 180c (170c fan) Gas Mark 4.
Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper.
Grate the rind and squeeze the juice from one lemon.
Beat caster sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and beat until combined, adding a little flour if necessary.
Add the rest of the flour, lemon zest and juice.
Put mixture into the prepared tin and cook for approx 30 minutes until cooked.
Whilst waiting grate the rind from the other lemon with a zester and mix with half of the granulated sugar.
Squeeze the juice into a small saucepan and add the remaining sugar.
Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes.
When the cake is cooked prick all over with a skewer.
Sprinkle over the sugar and zest then pour over syrup.
Leave to cool in the tin.