This is another creation based around one of my favourite English cake classics, the saintly lemon drizzle cake. Like the great lemon drizzle, this cake is moist, citrussy and extremely satisfying to make and eat. Unlike a traditional lemon drizzle, there is no whipping or creaming of butter involved.
This cake is infinitely adaptable, a perfect building block to which you can add as you see fit, to suit any and every occasion that life might throw at you. If you wish to omit the drizzle, the cake makes a very good, solid, simple sort of breakfast cake, a little more humbly cakey in texture, but very good with a coffee. If you like the citrus-soaked, moist glory of the lemon drizzle, then add the syrup. You can then choose to ice it with a simple glaze icing for an extra flourish.
It’s hard to give a precise recipe for lemon glaze icing, the kind of simple, tangy white one that ( just) dribbles down the side of so many wonderful cakes. This quantity makes a relatively stiff one, which will dribble only very slightly, and remain thick and white and opaque, and form the defined crest of your cake rather than a sheen.
Almond, Ricotta, Olive Oil & Lemon Drizzle Cake
- melted butter, for greasing
- 250 g (9 oz) ricotta
- 200 ml (7 fl oz/scant 1 cup) olive oil
- 100 g (3 1⁄2 oz/1 cup) ground almonds
- 150 g (5 oz/1 1⁄4 cups) 00 or all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 200 g (7 oz/3⁄4 cup, plus 2 tbsp) sugar good pinch of salt
- 4 eggs
- zest of 3 small or 2 large lemons, (reserve the juice for the syrup, below)
- 70 g (2 1⁄2 oz/ 1⁄3 cup) sugar
- juice of 3 small or 2 large lemons
- 250 g (9 oz/2 cups) confectioner’s sugar
- 30-40 ml (2–3 tbsp) lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF/Gas 4).
- Using a pastry brush, grease a 23 cm (9 in) cake tin with melted butter (you can use a bundt or a standard round tin).
- Put all the remaining cake ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth batter. (If you do not have a blender you can whisk everything together by hand in a mixing bowl using a balloon whisk, starting with the ricotta and then the oil to make sure there are no lumps in the ricotta.)
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly.
- Bake until risen and golden, 40–45 minutes. Insert a skewer or spaghetti strand to check it’s done.
- Allow the cake to cool while you make the syrup. Melt the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and simmer for a few minutes until syrupy. Pour the syrup over the cake and leave to cool completely before turning it out onto a serving plate (you can poke holes in the cake before pouring over the syrup to make absorption faster).
- Make the glaze (if using) following the instructions below. Drizzle the glaze over the cake before serving.
- Put the icing sugar in a bowl. Add 30 ml (2 tbsp) of the lemon juice and mix thoroughly, adding more juice depending on your desired texture.
- If you want a thinner, translucent glaze that soaks into the cake more, add another teaspoon of lemon juice, and continue to add juice to make it as runny as you wish. This will provide more of a general shine rather than a defined icing. You can tinker with it as you see fit – there are truly 50 shades of glaze.
Recipe excerpted with permission from La Vita e Dolce by Letitia Clark, published by Hardie Grant Books, June 2021