I suppose if you lived in Georgia life might give you peaches. Perhaps oranges if you call the Sunshine State home. On the Amalfi Coast life really does give you lemons … and a lot of them! They’re stacked up in baskets at the markets and fruit and veggie shops and hanging on the trees just about everywhere you go. The choice of what you might do with the lemons life gives you is wonderfully rich on the Amalfi Coast. You could make limoncello, always a good choice, or you could squeeze it fresh over a salad or fish, make lemon risotto or some good old fashioned American-style lemonade.
I was in the mood for baking recently, and so I pulled out one of my favorite dessert cookbooks. To say I love The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook is the understatement of the anno. After being introduced to the cookbook from a friend, I stopped in The Hummingbird Bakery in South Kensington (and again in Notting Hill!) in London last March. They had chocolate cupcakes with mint frosting. I was smitten.
Since then I’ve had great success with every single recipe I’ve tried from the cookbook. And, oh, have I tried some! I’ve introduced my husband’s Italian family to the wonderful world of cupcakes and brownies. The cupcakes–particularly the cream cheese frosting–have been a huge it, and the brownies are now specially requested at holidays. Oh, and you should see what happens when you introduce Italians to home-baked chocolate chip cookies! You’d think they were the best thing since chocolate chip cookies. Oh … wait … well, you get the idea.
Since there’s just the two of us and neither my husband nor I are big on sweets, I rarely make dessert except for family gatherings or holidays. Yet I do love the classic lemon cake that is very popular on the Amalfi Coast. Yet, a whole cake is just too much for us to ever hope to finish alone. I’ve been eyeing the pound cakes and loafs in The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook lately and decided to give the Lemon Loaf of shot since it’s a lot smaller than the recipe I have for lemon cake in a bundt pan.
Oh my. Yes, you have to make this lemon pound cake at home. It’s one of those heavens to Betsy recipes that you’ll want to make again and again. I got impatient waiting for it to cook as the house filled with the lovely scent and made my stomach rumble. When it came out of the over and I drizzled the lemon syrup over the top the wait became nearly impossible. When it was finally cool enough to slice, I made tea because everything is better with tea. (I suppose you could have it with coffee, just don’t tell me …)
Let’s just call this my English twist on an Amalfi Coast tradition! Taking the photos was hard work and was duly rewarded with another slice of cake. Then I snapped a photo on my cell and sent it to my husband promising to try not to eat it all before he came home. Yes, this is one of those cakes that requires photographic evidence.
I wish I could share a slice of this lemon pound cake still warm from the oven. But the second best is to share with you the recipe so you can enjoy it at home!
Recipe for The Hummingbird Bakery Lemon Loaf
320 g caster sugar
grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
560 g plain flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
250 ml whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
200 g unsalted butter, melted
freshly squeezed juice and grated zest of 2 lemons
100 g caster sugar
a 23 x 13-cm loaf tin,
greased and dusted with flour
Makes 8–10 slices
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
Put the sugar, eggs and lemon zest in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until well mixed.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in another bowl. Add
one-third of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat well, then beat in one-third of the milk mixture. Repeat this process twice more until everything has been added. Turn the mixer
up to high speed and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Turn the mixer down to low speed, pour in the melted butter and beat until well incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth over
with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45–55 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched.
For the lemon syrup: While the cake is baking, put the lemon juice and zest, sugar and 200 ml water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over low heat. Boil until it has reduced by half, or until it has a thin syrup consistency. When the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over the top. Leave to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Thank you to Ryland, Peters & Small for allowing me to share The Hummingbird Bakery’s recipe for Lemon Loaf! The Hummingbird Bakery Cook Book Deluxe Edition is published by Ryland Peters & Small at £20.00 and is available from www.rylandpeters.com.