It’s that time of year, when a little bit of planning for the forthcoming fete, digging out old recipes etc works a miracle interns of stress relief.
Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s saffron and lemon syrup cake
This makes a 24cm cake because I think it looks amazing as a large cake, but if you want, halve the recipe (and the baking time) and bake in 6 muffin tins. It is a good one for the dead of winter. The lemon rounds glow in saffron like little suns, lighting up your palate with their bright flavour.
For the syrup and topping
lemons 2, really thinly sliced
water enough to cover the lemon slices x 2, plus 400ml
caster sugar 250g
turmeric a pinch
saffron a pinch
For the cake
caster sugar 270g
ground almonds 200g
turmeric a pinch
plain flour 2 tbsp
lemon 1, juice and zest
salt a pinch
baking powder ½ tsp
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 24cm diameter cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Place the lemon slices for the syrup and topping in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Drain the slices, re-cover with water and bring to the boil again. Drain for a second time (by now all the bitterness should be gone), then cover with 400ml of fresh water. Add the sugar, turmeric and saffron and bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6-8 minutes until the peel is soft and the syrup has thickened. Remove from the heat.
Use a fork to lift the slices of lemon out of the syrup and layer them, just slightly overlapping, all over the base and a little way up the sides of the lined baking tin; the sugar will help them to stick in place. Pour over 2 tablespoons of the syrup and reserve the rest for later.
For the cake, cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer, or with a wide spoon in a bowl, until they are well combined but not fluffy, as you do not want to aerate the mixture. Stir in the eggs, ground almonds and turmeric, then fold in the semolina, flour, lemon juice and zest, salt and baking powder. Mix well and pour into the cake tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes, then turn the cake around to ensure that it bakes evenly and bake for a further 10-15 minutes. The cake should be golden and firm. Remove from the oven and pour over all the remaining syrup to soak in. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before turning out.
The cake needs to be turned on its head to serve, so place a plate on top of the tin and flip it over so the bottom-side is uppermost. Gently remove the tin and the paper. Now, turn off the lights and watch it glow.