It’s my birthday!
When I was growing up my mother would ask me to choose the type of cake I wanted for my birthday. She then proceeded to bake it for me, no matter what it was. I remember thinking that she was invincible in the kitchen—she could bake anything. One year, she pulled off a giant cookie cake that to this day I don’t know how she made with a conventional oven and a regular cookie tin.
As my birthday came closer, I found myself craving something a little lighter, a lemon tea cake that she made for one of my birthdays. Of course, if you read about my marmalade making adventures then you know that I love lemons. Not only do I have a lemon tree in my backyard, making it particularly easy to experiment with lemony foods, but there is there something cheerful about the taste of lemons. This time of year, I look for sweets that are bright and cheerful instead of heavy and cumbersome. A lemon tea cake for my birthday fit the bill perfectly.
I first looked in my copy of the Southern Living Cookbook (in my family this is a coming-of-age gift). It wasn’t there; apparently there was a recipe overhaul between mom’s edition and mine. Thankfully, my mother still uses the much-loved, worn version that I remember from my childhood.
Adapting this recipe was a cinch. I picked up some gluten free all purpose flour that also happens to be corn free (Trader Joes), and made a small batch of baking powder. (Remember: regular baking powder uses corn byproduct as a binding agent to keep the powder loose!). From there, I made the cake without any problems.
One of the biggest challenges in this recipe was the glaze. In the original recipe, powdered sugar and lemon juice make an easy glaze that crisps up after being poured over the top of the cake. As you may already know, powdered sugar uses corn byproduct to keep itself powdery and therefore isn’t an option. Instead, I chose to create a lemon simple syrup. I started it first, and by the time the cake was finished baking the syrup had boiled down and become thicker.
I topped the cake with the syrup and fresh strawberries, and voila! A beautiful and light cake for my birthday!
In the comments, let us know what is your favorite birthday treat is and how you adapt your recipe for others?
- ½ c. butter
- 1 cup Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1.5 cup Flour
- 1.5 tsps homemade baking powder
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ½ cup Milk
- Zest from 1 lemon
- Lemon Syrup:
- ½ cup Lemon juice
- 1 cup Water
- 1 cup Sugar
- Using an electric mixer, cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each egg.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add to the egg mixture a little at a time, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with flour mixture. Stir in lemon zest.
- Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.
- Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pan completely before removing.
- Top with the lemon syrup.