The business of this post is a blog event run by Another Outspoken Female, of Confessions of a Food Nazi. I visited her blog after Johanna of Gourmet Green Giraffe said she'd met her in Melbourne, and was tickled to discover that she is hosting a solstice cake event. I was tickled because as a household with a leaning towards old English traditions rather than practising (rather than cooking for) organised religion, I always call our winter fruit cake a solstice cake. I was tempted to reproduce one of our several favourites for this event, but couldn't quite bear to associate the wonder of our European summer solstice with a wintry cake.
Instead, I read up about foods which are associated with the summer solstice, and found that, unsurprisingly, they are about renewal and lightness. Oranges and lemons seem to feature in particular, as do mead-like herbs and spices (mmmn, mead, it's a long time since we've had any of that...). The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of making a light cake - light in both texture and colour, to celebrate the light evenings and summer renewal we've got (sporadically) going on at the moment. I'd promised The Scientist a lemon drizzle cake to take to his next role-playing session, so with an occasion presenting itself this weekend, I turned to a long-bookmarked recipe from Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess.
The cake was a cinch to make, and is gloriously lemony. It only had one lemon in it, but both cake and syrup bring a real tang to the party. It was beautifully fluffy, too, though I will have to await a full tasting report from The Scientist's gaming buddies (who are rubbish test tasters, actually, as they like everything, which I suppose brings its own catering advantages). I had planned to decorate the cake with some dried pineapple to symbolise more roundness and renewal, but I just couldn't manage to get a good photo of the whole cake. So that's how I ended up with pieces accompanied with pineapple rather than integrating it. Unfortunately that means I have completely failed to fulfil AOF's cake requirements which were that it include dried fruits and spices (can I count lemon as a spice?). I'm sending it over anyway in the hope that she'll make allowances for those of us living in the northern hemisphere, who have clearly had their talent for following instructions addled by the long hours of daylight (see comments on marshmallow disaster above for further proof)
Lemon solstice cake 2008, aka Nigella's Lemon-Syrup Loaf Cake (from How to be a domestic goddess)
Cake:125g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
175g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
4 tbsp milk
juice of 1 and 1/2 lemons (about 4 tbsps)
100g icing sugar
Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and lemon zest, beat in well. Add the sieved flour and salt, folding in gently but thoroughly. Add the milk, mix in
Spoon into loaf tin and put cake in oven for 45 mins, or until golden and a cake tester comes out clean
While it's cooking, dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice, over a low heat
As soon as you take the cake out, puncture holes all over the top and pour the syrup on to let it soak in. Make sure there are lots of holes in the top so it doesn't all go down the sides. Wait until it's completely cold to take it out of the tin.