As this blog goes on, you will discover that I'm a particular fan of two ingredients: chocolate and citrus. If I get to use and eat them together, even better, although in this instance, it's just the citrus I'm using. If you have the willpower to leave this cake a day before eating, you will find that the lemoniness and squidgy dampness of the cake get even better with a bit of time. If you're not a massive fan of lemon, first of all, may I ask, what's wrong with you?! Secondly, you could tone down the citrus by using the zest and juice of just one lemon in the batter, though personally I think why do things by halves?
For the cake:
- 225g unsalted butter or Stork
- 225g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs (very lightly beaten in a bowl)
- 225g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 1 tbsp poppyseeds
For the lemon mascarpone icing:
- 100g softened unsalted butter
- 200g icing sugar
- 2-4 tbsp mascarpone
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Few drops yellow food colouring or a smidgen of yellow food gel paste
You will also need 300ml double cream, lightly whipped.
Preheat the oven to 180C (or 160C for a fan oven). Grease and line two 8" sandwich tins.
Cream together the butter and sugar until they are pale and fluffy. Even with a freestanding mixer, I like to do this (using the K-beater attachment) for a good few minutes to get as much air in as possible.
Add the lightly beaten eggs and beat again briefly. If the mixture looks lumpy or curdled, don't panic, adding the flour should rectify this.
Sift the flour and baking powder together three times (this is my secret for a truly light sponge. Cut corners if you will, but for a melt-in-the-mouth, airy texture, I always sift my flour three times), then add a third to the butter, sugar and egg mix and beat to incorporate before adding another third, beating again, and then adding the final third and beating.
Lastly, add the lemon zest and juice and the poppyseeds and give it all a good mix. Split the batter between the tins and bake for 22 minutes. To check the cakes are cooked, insert a clean knife into them; it should come out of the cakes with only moisture and a few crumbs on it. If there is gooey batter on the knife, give the cakes another two to three minutes in the oven.
Once baked, remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool slightly before removing them from the tins and placing on a cooling rack.
To make the icing, beat all of the ingredients together either with an electric beater or a wooden spoon.
To assemble, sandwich the cakes together with the icing and then the cream. If you have enough icing left over, cover the top of the cake with it.