Baked Goods: Lemon Syrup Cake

I love baking but both time and the waistline mean I don’t do it as often as I used to.  I do like to whip up a simple cake every now and then, definately beats snacking on packet biscuits when the need for something sweet hits you.

One of the easiest and most satisfying cakes to make is the good ol’ Lemon Syrup Cake.  My mum used to make a great version with a really fine dense crumb from a tattered old Women’s Weekly cookbook, and lately I’ve been using a receipe from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Be a Domestic Goddess’.  Her recipe produces a cake with a coarser crumb, pretty good, but for sentimental reasons I still prefer the Women’s Weekly version.

Essentially a basic butter cake recipe, this takes just minutes to mix together and whack in the oven.  What really makes it delicious is the hot lemon sugar syrup your pour over the cake just after you take it out of the oven.  (Hint:  the ends of the cake are the best bit as they have the highest concentration of yummy, sticky, tart lemon syrup).  The Women’s Weekly version includes the somewhat bizarre addition of chopped nuts, but mum always left them out.

Try them out and see which version you prefer.  Both are delicious and are sturdy enough to make a nice lunch box treat to snack on at work or school.

Lemon Syrup Loaf Cake from ‘How To Be A Domestic Godess’ by Nigella Lawson

125 g unsalted butter
175 caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
175 g self raising flour
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons of milk

juice of 1 and 1/2 lemons (about 4 tbsp)
100g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 C and butter and line a loaf tin.  Cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs and lemons zest, beating them in well.  Add flour and salt, folding in gently and then add the milk.  Spoon mixture in to tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 

Meanwhile, while the cake is cooking make the syrup. Put the lemon juice and sugar in small saucepan and heat gently until sugar dissolves.  Cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes on low heat. 

As soon as the cake is out of the oven, puncture the top of the cake all oever with a skewer and pour the syrup over the top, make sure the middle absorbs syrup as well as the sides, then leave to soak up the rest.  Remove from tin once cake is completely cold.

Fresh Lemon Loaf from Australian Womens Weekly Cookbook circa 1974

4 oz butter (approx 115 grams)
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp milk
1/4 cup chopped nuts (always omitted by me, but you might like to try it with nuts)

granted rind and juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup caster sugar, extra

Preheat the oven to 180 C and butter and line a loaf tin. Cream butter well, add sugar and beat again.  Add eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition.   Sift flour and salt, add alternately with milk.  Add nuts (if using) and lemon rind.   Pour into tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.

Put the lemon juice and sugar in small saucepan and heat gently until sugar dissolves. When cake is cooked and hot from the oven, pour the lemon mixture over.  Leave to cool in tin.

So which one do you prefer?  Preparation is only around 15 minutes, with another 45 minutes for baking – in less than one hour you can be enjoying one these store cupboard classics!

4 thoughts on “Baked Goods: Lemon Syrup Cake”

  1. Hi,
    this is one of my family’s very favourite cakes, WITH the nuts, usually walnuts. But I’ve been making it since before 1974..I’m sure my old and tattered WW cookbook was published earlier than that, as I used it to teach myself to cook after I got married in 1971. It’s being fought over by my kids, as to who I’ll leave it to when I die! Lol. I have lots of my own recipes and changes written into the margins and endpapers…I’d be very sad to ever lose this one! It’s a great cookbook, and my go-to book for lots of things..its very simple Beef Stroganoff still outdoes any that I’ve tried from Gourmet Traveller, and chefs of repute. And as I’m kind of known as a good cook, I have to say it was a very good teacher!
    And that cake recipe is one of the best!
    Bon appetit!

  2. I’m gonna throw another spanner in the mix and say I love macadamias in lemon cake. But then again, I love walnuts in creamy salad with chickpeas… Any cake is good cake, as long as it’s not dry!

  3. My 1977 edition (“New Dual Measurement Edition”) of the WW cookbook says it was first published in 1970. I have just found one in an op shop and given it to my 23 year old grandson who is house hunting. Best book ever! The older Imperial Measurement editions turn up from time to time in book sales – sadly not much use now. And yes, the lemon cake without nuts is everyone’s favorite, it doesn’t look glamorous but Wow! the reaction!

  4. I tried this recipe…and it ended up being like a flat pancake….it needs to have more flour? not 175g ( as stated in first recipe…..MAKE SURE YOU PUT IN MORE FLOUR>>>>like 2nd recipe …..

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