Sunday, 17 June 2012

Lemon, Custard and Crumble Cake

Ah, the Anchor capstan cake stand! well, what do you do with yours?  A blustery day on the Thames and you couldn't find a finer cake stand. Or a finer cake, I mean look at that beast. As long as no one presses the 'on' button, which would send the cake spinning round in a whirl of custard and crumble spray.

This was my birthday/pageant cake I baked for myself and the Queen. Except she seemed to be a little busy so I shared it with the crew instead. It was well deserved after a day standing in the rain and cold, saluting the Queen, Mexican waving and cheering the boats that went passed us in the Avenue of Sail. What a Birthday it was. And what a cake. I chose some of my favourite sweet flavours and put together what would work best. And work it does. Splendidly. Lemon drizzle cake topped with strawberry jam, custard and crumble. Ace.

The other great thing about this cake is that considering I had a busy day, what with it being my Birthday and the Queen coming to visit along with 999 or so boats that rowed or motored by, I had to make the sponge the day before. But it was still perfectly airy and fresh and would definitely have survived a few more days in tip-top-taste (if we hadn't demolished the entire thing). All I had to do on the day was smear it with jam, custard icing, crumble and strawberries. Which was the fun, bowl-licking bit and perfectly easy to do even after a few glasses of bubbles. And a Pimms.

Or two.

Moving on. So as you can see, in accordance with the grandness of the event, I made this  a  4 tiered cake. You don't have to and I'll give the recipe for a normal 2 tiered cake. But by all means double the recipe next time you have the Queen and 999 other boats coming to town.

So for the most delicious cake ever, incorporating all the best of flavours; lemon-drizzle, custard and crumble cake you will need;

225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g Castor sugar
200g softened butter
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
zest of two lemons
strawberry jam

For the drizzle;

The juice of two lemons
30g Castor sugar

for the icing;

150g butter, room temperature
250g icing sugar
5 tbsp or 60g or 1/4 cup thick pre-made custard. I used Ambrosia or you could make your own.
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the crumble;

25g flour
25g porridge oats
25g ground almonds
35g butter
40g sugar


  • Preheat your oven to 180C/160F, gas mark 4. Then grease and line the base of two 20cm/8inch sandwich tins. Then, this is how good this cake is, bung the flour, baking powder, butter, sugar and eggs, vanilla and lemon zest into a bowl and mix together using an electric hand whisk. Once everything is incorporated, add the milk and then beat again for a minute. Nice and easy.

  • Spoon the mixture into your baking tins and using a spoon level the mixture as much as you can. Pop in the oven and bake for about 40  minutes, checking after 30. You'll know it's done because a sharp thing when inserted into the cake will come out clean and the edges of the cake will have started to come away from the tin a bit. And leave the oven on for the crumble.

  • Now whilst the cakes are still pretty warm and in their tins, poke a load of holes in them using a fork. Mix together the lemon juice and sugar then pour the mixture over the tops of the cakes. Leave them to cool a little and to absorb the syrup then turn out onto a cooling rack until you need to decorate. (Which could be the next day)

  • Make the crumble by putting all the ingredients into a blender and pulsing until you have a crumb-like texture. Or rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your finger tips which may take a wee bit longer but you'll feel very Julia Child. Then sprinkle the crumble in an even layer onto a baking tray lined with a bit of greaseproof paper and put into the oven for about 15 minutes but check after 10. The crumble should be lightly browned. This too can be made in advance and stored.

  • Now for the icing, cut the butter into small bits, add the sieved icing sugar and vanilla extract and beat with an electric hand whisk until you have a thick paste. Add the custard and beat again on the slow setting until it has all mixed. Don't beat for too long or too hard when the custard is added, in case it splits.  Chill this in the fridge until needed.

  • Now the building bit. Place one of the sponges on your chosen and bestest serving dish or cake stand. Smear generously with some strawberry jam then over that spread on a thick layer of the custard icing then sprinkle on a good few handfuls of the crumble. Top with the remaining sponge and repeat the process. Then halve some fresh strawberries and arrange these over the custard and crumble. Finally top it all off with a  garnish of any left over crumble.
You can then use a hot, damp, clean cloth to clean the serving dish up so you can then pose suitably with your cake for the cameras as shown...
And I know the whole thing looks a bit long-winded but if you make the sponge the day ahead or even just the crumble and icing then it really is very easy and definitely worth a try. If you do - let me know how it goes!
I'm sorry to say that the last day (today) of the Westward cup was cancelled due to uber strong wind. So although we're off to the prize-giving tonight at the Royal Yacht Squadron, we won't be winning anything. But we, the crew of Mariquita don't mind at all. We sailed three races and got line honours for two of them. So we know we are the winning boat really. With a brand new crew and very little training, we went out and gave it our best; sailed hard and with passion.
And that's what it's all about.
Thanks for reading!