In life, things are often planned at the last minute (or not planned at all) and trust me that nowhere is that more true than in Southern Italy. The Southern Italians get undeservedly bashed by their Northern neighbours for a lot of things (I especially hate when they say that people here are lazy – actually most of them work ridiculous hours for very little pay) but when they complain that they like to do everything at the last minute… well I have to say that at least amongst my group of friends this is absolutely true. The converstaion on facebook which led to the last minute lemon cake was therefore not in the slightest bit unusual…
Silvio: So we aren’t going to Naples anymore
Carlo: No, everyone is coming to my place for dinner
Two hours of random banter later
Carlo: Damn! We don’t have desert! I know it’s late, but can someone make a cake?
Of course, two people then ended up making cake and we had two deserts. Ah, I love you Italy! The quick and easy lemon cake that I went with was pretty popular despite the fact that it almost fell apart in the car as I also had to pick R up from Naples before going to the dinner party – light and fluffy with a much more lemony, sharp bakers cream than usual used to cover it. I liked the baker’s cream for a party, but in all honesty if I was making this to keep at home I would probably just stick with a simple sponge.
Ingredients (for the sponge)
120g plain flour
120g corn flour
250g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 shot glass of limoncello
2 tsp baking soda
Zest of two organic lemons
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (mine is fan assisted)
2.. Separate the egg yolks and the whites into two bowls. Put the whites to one side.
3. Cream the butter with the sugar and the egg yolks
4. Whip the whites into soft peaks (if you are doing this by hand, a very tiny pinch of salt in the whites makes this easier and doesn’t change the flavour)
5. Fold the whites into the creamed mixture and gently seive in the flour and baking powder
6. Add the tablespoon of milk, the shot of limoncello and the lemon zest and beat to get a smooth, light cake mixture.
7. Grease a cake pan, pour the mix in and place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and a knife inserted into the cake’s centre comes out clean.
In the meantime, for the cream, you will need:
2 egg yolks
200 ml milk
Flour (quantity on the basis of how thick you want the cream)
Juice and zest of one lemon
Shot glass of limoncello
1. Warm the milk DO NOT BOIL!!!!!!
2. Whip the yolks and the sugar in to the warm milk over a LOW heat
3. Add the lemon juice, zest and limoncello and stir.
4. When all of these ingredients have been amalgamated, begin to seive in the flour, a little at a time, until you reach the desired thickness. As I was using this to cover rather than fill the cake I used quite a bit of flour and added a little more sugar and limoncello to maintain the desired flavour.
5. Leave the cream to cool.
By the time you have made the cream and cleaned up the kitchen, the cake should be ready. Leave it to cool if you have time (I didn’t) before using a spatula to evenly cover the cake with cream and garnish with lemon slices.
Try not to travel in the car too far with it. Trust me, it ruins the pretty presentation – not that my friends seemed to notice, they were too busy filling their faces!
With love, from Italy