Last night, after what seemed like an eternity, the bakers of south east London were out in force again, bringing their cake tins to Camberwell, celebrating risen cakes and lamenting soggy bottoms. Band of Bakers was back from its summer break. The theme: anything goes. Literally anything. Bake what you like.
Much to my surprise, many found the lack of constraint to be a burden rather than a freedom. I, myself, made several u-turns on what I would bake in the lead up to the event and almost ended up driving myself mad. It seems that a more specific theme gives a lot more focus.
Now, I know that my blog does not really need another lemon cake. It has two lemon cakes already, one with poppy seeds and one with prosecco, but this is such an extra special lemon cake that I could not help but make it for the Band of Bakers event. It comes from the gorgeous Ginger and White cookbook, with recipes from the Hampstead cafe of the same name. It is one of those books that you leaf through, marking almost every page with a little tab as you want to bake everything. The idea of delicate lemon cakes squidged together with homemade lemon curd was the perfect treat for the end of summer.
The cakes are incredibly easy to make and use few ingredients. Similarly, the lemon curd, although time-consuming, is also very simple. Zesting five lemons may be the death of your wrists for the evening, but it is worth it: after all, who really enjoys a cake with just a hint of lemon?
Lemon Curd Layer Cake
For the cake
225g unsalted butter, softened
280g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
4 large eggs, beaten
220g self-raising flour
Icing sugar, for dusting
Blueberries, for decoration
For the lemon curd
3 egg yolks
115g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
80ml lemon juice
55g unsalted butter, softened
To make the lemon curd, beat together the egg yolks and the sugar in a glass bowl (you can use either a balloon whisk or a wooden spoon – it doesn’t really matter). Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and beat in the lemon zest, lemon juice and butter. Continue to stir over the heat until the curd thickens. This will take about 15 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºc / 350ºf / gas 4. Butter three regular sandwich tins and baseline with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a freestanding mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Whilst beating, or with the motor of the mixer still running, add the beaten eggs a little at a time. If it looks like the mixture is curdling, add a tablespoon of the flour to bring it back together. Finally, fold in the flour, being careful not to overmix. The batter will be quite thick, but this is OK.
Scrape into the prepared tins and bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 15 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. The cakes are very pale anyway, so do not be tempted to overcook to make them darker in colour. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes and then turn out on to wire racks, removing the greaseproof paper from the bottoms.
Once cool, spread one layer with half of the lemon curd, going right up to the edges, and place a second cake on top. Spread this with the other half of the lemon curd, and then top with the final layer. Decorate with blueberries and icing sugar and serve.
Adapted from a recipe from the Ginger and White Cookbook