I’m guilty of committing a bad scientific sin. I have a glorious cake sitting on my kitchen worktop and I have no way of knowing which of the variables I changed was responsible for its glory. Why? Because I changed all of the variables at the same time!
Was it because I increased the amount of cornflour I added to the flour? Was it because I microwaved the cornflour as well as the flour? Or was it because I had a craving for lemon cake and added some lemon juice, which is acidic?
I’m grateful to Adrian for his comments both here and on Rose’s blog – his observations and clear thinking prompted me to revisit the way in which I typically make up batches of ‘kate flour‘ and have resulted in a much easier and less messy method for its preparation. His questions have also lead me to try increasing the amount of starch so that the protein content of the flour/cornflour mix matches that of cake flour, as well as to introduce something acidic into the recipe to mimic an additional effect of chlorination on flour.
I can certainly confirm that these changes have all proved successful. My lemon cake is beautifully light, fine-textured, moist and well-risen. My sink and dish-cloths are also less clogged up with flour spillages, which is something that will please my husband. Whether or not these changes were all necessary … I really can’t say!
Lemon Butter Cake
Adapted from a recipe by Rose Levy Beranbaum
9 1/2 oz Italian 00 Grade flour (or plain flour)
2 1/2 oz cornflour
4 oz egg yolks (approx 6 egg yolks)
8 1/2 oz milk
2 1/4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
10 1/2 oz castor sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 oz unsalted butter, softened
Grease, line and flour two 9″ x 1 1/2″ cake pans. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Place the flour and cornflour in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Put the mixture into a pyrex pie dish (not a bowl – the flour mix should be at an even depth of about 2cms). I’ve found that a pie dish is less messy than a plate when stirring the flour! Microwave the mixture at 750W for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring well at the end of each minute (I use a fork to fluff it all up and disturb any hot spots).
Remove the pie dish carefully from the microwave using oven gloves. Sieve and discard any residue. Set aside to cool further.
Combine the egg yolks, 2 oz of the milk, lemon juice and zest in a bowl. Set aside.
Weigh out 10 1/2 oz of the flour mix – any remaining flour can be discarded or used to flour your cake pans. Sieve the flour mix into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix slowly to combine.
Cut the butter up into small cubes and add to the dry ingredients. Add the remaining milk. Mix together slowly at first to moisten the dry ingredients, then beat for 1 1/2 minutes at medium speed (I go to no. 4 on my Kenwood).
Beat in the lemony-egg mixture in 3 batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each batch to make sure that all ingredients are combined.
Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and smooth with a spatula. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 to 35 mins until the top is springy but the sides have not yet started to shrink. Cool on wire racks for 10 mins before removing the cakes from the pans.
What about the cauliflower? Well, we went to Dart’s Farm this morning and there in the entrance was a table stacked high with the most wonderful cauliflowers I have ever seen. And they were all grown locally in Budleigh. I don’t even really like eating cauliflower, but I couldn’t resist buying one of these beauties!