In which I bake a beautiful lemon drizzle cake for Valentine's Day and refuse to eat it.
My husband, Terry, and I are truly terrible at Valentine's Day. We're the worst. Here we are, being the worst on Valentine's Day.
And we're apparently WAY into hoodies.
We used to be pretty good at celebrating it, but then we had a kid and started contracting one disease after another every winter because kids are grody. We've had the flu every year right before Valentine's Day for the last four years. This year, it was a stomach virus, which has been truly unfortunate.
Today was supposed to be the Victorian sponge bake day, but that's more appropriate for a larger family gathering. We went nowhere today because of the winter weather advisory that has us shut up in the house with each other's germs and delightful cabin-fevery mood swings. So, I opted, instead, to make the recipe for lemon drizzle cake in How to Bake, which is actually called Mrs. Post's Lemon Drizzle Cake in the book because it's not Paul Hollywood's recipe; it's his family friend's recipe that he loves so much he couldn't not include it. Terry looooooves lemon cake, so I made it for him as his Valentine's Day present.
I don't like lemon flavors in my food. Any food. Ever. The same goes for ANY citrus flavors. When people put orange glaze on cinnamon rolls, I put hexes on them and remove their names from my Contacts because they are then dead to me. I can't eat anything lemon-flavored and not think of Pledge furniture polish. I love Pledge furniture polish. I love the way it smells and the way it makes our dining room table so shiny. But I don't want to eat Pledge-y cake. Or Pledge-y chicken. Or Pledge-y cinnamon rolls. (Because there is an orange-scented Pledge, too.) No one says, "This reminds me of cleaning day! Mmmmmmmmm, delicious!!"
So, no, thank you.
But, because I'm selfless and possess character above reproach, I made the lemon drizzle cake for Terry. He goes out at 11 p.m. to buy me a bag of peppermint hard candy, and I bake cakes that I find gross. That's called marriage, people.
First problem: this recipe calls for lemon curd. What is lemon curd? I wish I could tell you, but no one seems to know. However, I did know that I didn't have any in the house and didn't want to make a batch of it when I only needed one tablespoon for the cake recipe. Amazon came to my rescue yet again, of course, and I found this rather delightful jar of lemon curd that contained, for a processed food, normal, delightful ingredients (and no corn syrup).
It has a lovely texture--very thick and smooth, and even I didn't find the scent of it offputting. I don't know what I'll do with the rest of the jar, but no doubt Terry will make some sort of coconut milk/curry/lemon curd/chicken/vegetables meal with it. (His meals are fragrant and kind of horrifying.)
The recipe is quite simple. The first step involves whisking the butter and sugar together for up to 10 minutes, and I opted to use the mixer for it, even though cleaning out the whisk mixer attachment is about as enjoyable as getting a root canal. It was also not a large mixture of butter and sugar, so it looked rather pitiful when done.
The recipe results in a beautiful batter, though. It's just too bad that it contains lemon, which ruins an otherwise perfectly delicious batter-eating experience.
Notice that I lined the pan this time, as directed. Yay, me, for not being a moron!
While it was baking, I assembled the ingredients for the glaze that is poured on top of the cake right after it comes out of the oven. In the process, this bottle of lemon juice became my mortal enemy.
Lemon juice manufacturers, I implore you, MAKE BETTER CAPS SO THAT I DON'T DEVELOP MURDEROUS RAGE WHEN TRYING OBTAIN THREE TABLESPOONS OF LEMON JUICE.
Then, she was done.
Even I had to admit that she was beautiful.
And my Valentine was very, very happy with his Valentine.
While I was taking this picture, Michael, our Newfoundland "puppy," had climbed up onto my my head and shoulders to try to get closer to the cake. I'm next going to develop a blog site titled Michael Mauls Food and Breaks Plates, and I won't have any trouble developing content for it. It practically writes itself!
I did a few things differently from the recipe: I used lemon juice from a bottle instead of squeezing it out of a lemon (which you'll never find me doing). I also didn't have self-rising flour, so I made my own out of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Finally, I used the pre-made lemon curd because does anyone really need more than one tablespoon of lemon curd at a time? And if so, for what? What are you people doing with lemon curd? Never mind--I don't want to know. Keep your lemon curd perversions to yourself.
Our conclusions: Terry said that it was the best lemon cake he's ever had, so he apparently agrees with Paul about that. I'll never try it because, even though my character is generally above reproach, I hold citrus-related grudges. However, I have to admit that it's a lovely batter and a lovely cake and a recipe that seems at least a little forgiving of small changes. We approve!