We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you another Great British Baking Show classic: Mary Berry’s signature lemon drizzle cake! I wanted to try something that was quintessentially British (and thus quintessentially Mary Berry), and I can’t think of anything that fits that bill better than this particular dessert.
I actually made this cake several months ago, but never got around to posting it. The recipe is from her cookbook 100 Cakes and Bakes, which is from the same series as the cookbook I found her Date and Walnut Cake recipe in. As I did with the date and walnut cake, I’ve taken the liberty of converting her measurements to units that are a little easier for Americans to work with.
For the most part, the cake is really simple to make. You basically dump all of the ingredients in the mixer, let it do its thing for a few minutes, then pour the batter into a baking dish and bake away. The tricky part is figuring out when to pour the glaze on. Anyone who’s watched some of the Great British Baking Show knows that the drizzle portion of a lemon drizzle can make or break the whole thing (and no one wants to get a disapproving Mary Berry stare). Your cake needs to be cool enough that the syrup doesn’t run straight through, but warm enough that it still gets through the whole cake. Unfortunately, I either forgot to make a note of how long I let mine cool or did make said note but lost it. I waited until the cake was just cool enough to comfortably rest my hand on, and my glaze performed as it was supposed to, creating a crunchy sugar layer on top as the cake cooled the rest of the way.
This cake is great as is, and I don’t actually have much of an urge to change it. However, if you’re in the mood to tinker with the recipe, it would be great with different citrus fruits or the addition of some fresh herbs, such as mint, rosemary, or lavender. If you come up with a particularly delicious flavor combination, be sure to share in the comments!
You will need the following ingredients:
For the cake:
- 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups (8 oz.) powdered sugar
- 2½ cups self-rising flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- ¼ cup milk
- grated zest of two lemons
For the glaze:
- juice of two lemons (approximately ½ cup)
- ⅔ cup (175 g) granulated sugar
Let’s get baking!
First things first: the recipe calls for self-rising flour, and I don’t keep that on hand. Fortunately, it’s easy to make from things that most people will have in their pantries. All you have to do is whisk together 4 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt. That’s it. Ask The Kitchn if you don’t believe me.
Measure out 2½ cups of the self-rising flour and store the rest in a sealed container.
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease a 9″ by 12″ baking dish and line just the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper.
Combine the self-rising flour, butter, eggs, milk, powdered sugar, baking powder, and lemon zest in the bowl of a standing mixer or other large mixing bowl.
It’ll make your life easier (and less messy) if you stir the ingredients a few times before beating so that the flour doesn’t fly everywhere the second you turn your mixer on. Beat the cake batter until smooth, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the bowl at least once in the middle of mixing to make sure there are no dry pockets left.
Scrape the cake batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top with a spatula or spoon.
Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and it springs back when you gently poke it in the middle. The sides will also start to pull away from the pan.
Leave the cake to cool in the dish about 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack. To do so, place a separate cooling rack or large cutting board on top of the baking dish.
Flip the dish over, holding the cooling rack against it as you flip (you may want to wear oven mitts while you do this because the baking dish will still be quite hot). Put the whole thing down on the counter and lift off the baking dish.
Peel away and discard the parchment paper on the bottom of the cake.
Place another cooling rack upside down on top of the cake.
Flip the cake over again so that it’s now sitting right-side up and remove the first cooling rack/cutting board.
Now comes the trickiest part of this bakeventure. You need to let the cake cool partially, but not too much. If you glaze the cake too soon, the drizzle will soak straight through and you won’t get a crunchy sugar layer on top. If you wait too long, the glaze will pool on top and won’t penetrate the cake. I waited until the cake was cool enough that it wasn’t uncomfortable to leave my palm resting in the center.
While you’re waiting for your cake to cool, stir together the lemon juice and granulated sugar for the glaze until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour or spoon the glaze evenly over the top of the cake.
Leave the cake to cool the rest of the way.
When the cake is completely cool, cut it into squares.
You can download the printable PDF here: Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Cake