Friday, August 27, 2010

Placatory cake

Brent, our Admin Manager, has been in Auckland this week. While he was away, we decided to pull the time-honoured office prank of bubble-wrapping everything on his desk. Opinions differed as to his probable reaction; at least one person was convinced he was going to hit the roof. I was pretty sure he would see the funny side, but, just in case, I decided an offering of cake might go some way towards diffusing an angry reaction.

With this in mind, I selected lemon syrup cake (p45), a variation on the butter cake recipe. You use the same recipe, but bake it in a loaf tin (instead of a cake tin), and pour a lemon syrup over the top of the cooked cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

It didn't take long to throw the cake together - it's a fairly straightforward procedure of mixing dry ingredients and milk into creamed butter, sugar and eggs. Then it was into the loaf tin, and into the oven.

The baking time was 35-40 minutes, so I set the timer for 20, at which point I made a start on the lemon syrup, and re-set the timer for another 15 minutes.

The lemon syrup was very easy to make - just heat lemon juice and sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Easy. I overestimated how long it would take for the sugar to dissolve, and the syrup was ready long before the cake was finished baking.

The cake had started browning at the edges, and I was worried it would overcook, so I took it out to test with a toothpick: nope, nothing like cooked in the middle. It was still quite gooey after 40 minutes, and it had been in for nearly 50 by the time I was satisfied it was cooked through.

I poured the syrup over the cake as soon as I'd decided it wasn't going back in the oven. While quite a bit of it oozed down the sides of the cake, enough stayed on the top to give the cake a nice shiny glaze.

It didn't look too impressive though - the edges were quite a dark brown in places and the cake had an odd shape. I decided not to take it to work whole: as soon as it had completely cooled, I sliced the cake up and arranged the pieces neatly on a platter. It looked much nicer that way. I just had to hope that it didn't dry out too much overnight.

As it happens, Brent wasn't upset about the bubble-wrap: he even managed to laugh along with the rest of us. So I didn't need the cake really, but it didn't go to waste, speedily disappearing at morning tea time, and achieving a fair amount of approval from the colleagues.

It had dried out a little overnight, but not much - it was still very tasty. The lemon syrup added a nice zing, without being overpowering. I quite having the syrup instead of icing - it's not nearly as sickly. Since both the variations of butter cake I've made have come out well, I'd say this is a good recipe to keep in mind if you're looking to make something quick and easy. Don't be put off by the fact that it seems quite plain - it's still a really nice cake.


  1. That actually looks really nice! I've always been a fan of plain cakes. I bet that lemon syrup was really good with it, too! Years ago I made lemon muffins (or lemon and something-or-other muffins) from one of Alison Holst's books, I think, which had similar lemon syrup you poured over when fresh out of the oven. It made them a little sticky and really good!

    I wish I still had the recipe, come to think of it.

  2. I don't think I have that one in any of my Alison Holst books; try Googling it maybe?

  3. I'm sure I have it Bryn I'll get it to Robs and she can send it on.C I've made them too, very nice


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