Just before leaving Cardiff to go home for the summer my boyfriend and I went for tea at Waterloo Gardens Teahouse. I LOVE tea, especially with cake, but I’m never very adventurous with trying different types of tea. So we went with the intention of ordering anything but English Breakfast. We opted for the Darjeeling, and it was wonderful. I am definitely a fan, and I definitely need to buy some, although perhaps not until my bank balance has recovered from the hit it received this week…graduation gown, £40 of petrol, clothes shop (definitely bought three dresses in one day…I don’t even wear dresses!) hair cut, facial (still trying to decide if facials are at all worth it) and a new hair dryer (old one was starting to smell like fire when I turned it on)…It’s a good job I’m going to be stuck in a kitchen 9-5 Monday to Friday for the next four weeks and unable to blow large sums of money in short spaces of time. Although ‘stuck’ is absolutely the wrong word. Much much much too negative. From tomorrow I’m going to be taking the four-week cookery diploma at Ashburton Cookery School. Excited much? Hell yes! I can practically hear my fluttery stomach butterflies squealing in excitement.
So…I was talking about tea with the boyfriend…to go with our Darjeeling he ordered a coffee and tia maria cake and I ordered the chocolate and beetroot cake, seizing the opportunity to finally alleviate my beetroot in cake curiosity…I knew carrot and courgette definitely work in cake, but I’d still not tried beetroot. Unfortunately the cake was slightly disappointing. The flavour was good, but I was unsure about the texture. To me it was too grainy-like. Of course, you understand, this now means I have to sample numerous other chocolate and beetroot cakes before I can be certain that I don’t really like beetroot in cakes! My boyfriend’s coffee and tia maria cake, however, was by far the best coffee cake I’ve eaten ever. The sweetness and strength of the coffee flavour were both perfect, and the icing…never, ever, did I think I could enjoy icing so much! It was so light and fluffy and creamy, almost mouse like…I have to learn how to make icing like that! Fortunately my boyfriend was still working off a hangover and so didn’t inhale the cake at the usual rate, allowing me plenty of opportunity to dive in for forkfuls.
But what has any of this got to do with lemon and blueberry cake? Well, the cake I would have had, if it wasn’t for my wanting to try out beetroot cake, would have been the lemon and blueberry cake. And having been slightly disappointed with my beetroot cake, I really regretted not having ordered that one instead. Fortunately, on coming home, my Mum was quick to put in a request for me to bake a lemon drizzle cake. I agreed, so long as I could bake it with blueberries in. I adapted a recipe for a lemon, blueberry and mint cake from delicious magazine, swapping milk for buttermilk, because I just like buttermilk right now. First I made it with the mint syrup as suggested, and while I didn’t dislike the mint, I didn’t feel it particularly added anything that special, and possibly over complicated the cake’s flavour slightly. I re-tried the cake with a plain lemon syrup, and personally, preferred it that way. The sponge itself turned out perfectly moist and light. I was also pleased with how the sponge mix managed to suspend the blueberries. So many times have I ended up with a squelchy blueberry layer at the bottom of my cake.
Lemon and Blueberry Buttermilk Drizzle Cake, recipe adapted from Debbie Major’s Blueberry, Lemon and Mint Drizzle Cake, printed in delicious magazine and on line here
- 115g very soft butter, plus extra for greasing
- 250g fresh blueberries
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- 275g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 200g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 120ml buttermilk
- 100g granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
- Cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric hand whisk for a minute or so until soft and creamy. Gradually beat in the caster sugar, then continue beating for 3-4 minutes until pale and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest, followed by the eggs, one at a time. Add 1 tbsp of the sifted flour to the mix with the second egg.
- Fold about one third of the buttermilk into the mix, then gently fold in around one third of the sifted flour. Repeat twice more, folding in the remaining two thirds of the buttermilk and flour alternately until the mixture is smooth and shows no streaks of flour.
- Spoon one third of the cake mixture into the bottom of the prepared loaf tin, spreading gently to cover the base of the tin. Scatter over one third of the blueberries. Repeat twice more, so that you end with a layer of blueberries. Bake in the preheated over for around 60-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- When the cake comes out of the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the lemon juice and granulated sugar. After the 5 minutes, spoon the lemon syrup over the cake, then leave to cool completely before removing from the tin.