MacCulloch classic no. 1 – lemon drizzle cake

13 Sep

With one (fairly) successful bake under my belt I thought it was time to see how one of my British recipes fared in Canada and decided to start with lemon drizzle cake.  This is one of my all time favourite recipes; family lore has it that the basic recipe was one which my Aunt Rena found from a gas cooker recipe book she got from a travelling gas salesman in 1930s Edinburgh.  I can remember my mother making this cake when I was a child and the family not even letting it get out the tin before we began eating it, never mind getting the sugar topping drizzled over it.  Mr Kim doesn’t like the sugar topping either but he’s responsible for the addition of the poppy seeds, which are a good foil for the lemon and sugar.  Either way it’s delicious and easy to make.   So definitely, worthwhile finding out what happened to it when I tested it in Toronto.

The Redpath cassonade sugar


The ingredients and the mixture.  By the time the mixture was in the tin I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t added the baking powder – oh well, too late now!

The first point to note was that my ingredients were slightly different from those I’d be using in the UK.  I usually make this with Stork maragrine, which gives it a lovely light texture but not having fully worked out margarines here I used butter.  The recipe originally called for a light brown sugar but I like making it with Demerara sugar.  In Canada Demerara is called cassonade, a beautifully lyrical name for a sugar which actually in texture is half way between Demerara and light brown sugar.  The mixture was quite thick so I ended up adding an extra egg.  Finally, in the UK this recipe uses self-raising flour; in Toronto I managed to get the cake all the way into the oven before reaslising that I’d forgotten to add any baking powder.

Given this potentially serious omission the cake didn’t turn out too badly at all; Mr Kim was willing to eat two pieces.  The texture was definitely finer than my UK version would have been, which seems to follow on from my experience of making the cup cakes.  It also had a darker colour to the sponge, which I put down to the quality of the cassonade.

The cake – not bad considering it’s evolution.

The poppy seeds came from another of our great discoveries Bulk Barn, which is a shop selling all manner of ingredients by weight and in bulk.  I’d been to versions of these in the UK but they always seemed rather sad and dingy places.  BB was light and bright, filled not only with a seemingly endless supply of potential ingredients (I was able to find my favourite diced apricots here which I love on breakfast cereal) but also a fantastic selection of baking accessories from tins to cookie cutters, icing pens and cup cake cases – what a great place!

BTW, if the recipe has a long history in my family so does my name and in a sense I was named after the family discoverer of this recipe so it’s entirely appropriate it’s the first MacCulloch recipe I baked in Canada.  There’s always been an Alex or one sort or another in my mother’s father’s family, whether Alexander, Sandy, Alexandra or Alexandrina.  My great aunt was an Alexandrina, hence the Rena, and my mother always wished that she had decided to give me this more unusual version of my name.  And then of course I ended up working in a palace where another Alexandrina was born…….


One Response to “MacCulloch classic no. 1 – lemon drizzle cake”

  1. Jenny Wedgbury September 13, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    Yum! I love lemon drizzle cake. X

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