Thursday, 17 January 2008

Don't give me 'foolproof' things!

A few days ago Peter Bryenton had a recipe for 'foolproof' pancakes on his site. I have a lot of difficulty with anything called foolproof because, if you manage to mess it up, what does it say about you?

Some years ago I took a recipe from a magazine that was for a foolproof lemon cake. I have managed to botch it about three times. I am deeply scarred by the experience but it is a lovely cake. The recipe is below.

The problem is the method. I am conditioned to the traditional method of cake making: cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs, stir in flour. It is a pattern. In the 'foolproof' method everything gets chucked in together. The most common way I managed to mess it up was by leaving things out. My heart would sink when someone would say "What's this ramekin of melted butter doing in the microwave?". There is no way to get the butter into a half cooked cake but I can tell you that a butter free foolproof lemon cake is edible, if somewhat rubbery.

The (almost) Foolproof Lemon Cake

zest of one lemon
175g sugar
2 eggs
pinch salt
150ml milk
100g butter, melted
175g flour
1 tsp baking powder

6 tblsp sugar
juice & jest two lemons

Preheat oven to 160
Grease & line round, square or ring tin

Combine zest, eggs, sugar, salt, milk and butter in a bowl. Yes, all in together.
Sift flour and baking powder and add to bowl, stir well.
Pour into tin, bake until set (abt an hour)

Boil sugar and juice for a few minutes
Pour over hot cake and leave 15min.

Tip out of tin onto wire rack to cool.

Eat as is or serve with cream/Greek yoghurt/icecream for dessert.

Variations I have tried:

1. Add 1 tsp ground cardamom and chopped peel from about 4 cumquats to cake. (I put the peel and sugar in the food processer and 'zapped' it as an easy way to chop the peel.) Replace the lemon juice in the syrup with equivalent amount of cumquat juice.

2. Buy a bottle of ginger topping. Strain out the ginger bits and put them in the cake with a teaspoon of powdered ginger. Heat sieved topping to use it as the syrup.


Good luck!


  1. foolproof anything is an oxymoron me thinks; especially foolproof pancakes! I personally never get them right to the 2nd batch.

  2. The first pancake is always lumpy.

  3. i'll try ur almost foolproof lemmon cake. may be next week...
    remind me to be extra lemons while i'm doing my weekly grocery shopping..

  4. I think lemon cake might be my favourite cake, but then there's chocolate, and coffee, and apricot and almond with amaretto...

    How are you holding out against teh temptation of that very thin laptop?

  5. I would live to try this,
    but I am from Wisconsin and
    we use cups, teaspoons, ect
    for cooking directions.
    Back to math class?
    Very fond of your site.
    kay lee

  6. i gotta figure out the metric system first...and then try this! pray for me. :)

    i want to know more about how the camera came back to you after 3 losses! sounds like the makings of an interesting post.

    i could not go without the laptop for months...would kill me dead! we lost power for 8 hours on monday night during a snowfall, and i was having withdrawal symptoms. ;) hubby always totes ours in his backpack due to security issues. we don't ever leave it in hotel unless they have a safe.

  7. I think I will still make mistakes and the cake will still come out not as it supposed to be..if I'm the one who bake it. What does that make me then?

  8. In France they have a word for the first crepe (pancake...) but of course I do not knowhow to spellit so lets just say the word is le thing.

    Lee, you are a chef! Wonders never cease! Know I now why you are coming to France!

  9. Hiya Lee....

    tx for stopping by my blog...

    Call me traditional too... I prefer adding dry to the wet after mixing. I am sure this cake will work just fine if you do it the good ol' fashioned way. Perhaps I'll give it try.

    But not tomorrow...for tomorrow it will be something very chocolate-y.


Moderation cuts in six days after posting.