Sometimes, the inspiration to bake new things comes from unexpected places. This Raspberry-Lemon Drizzle Cake is one of those bakes. It came simply from the need to bake ‘pink’.
Last week, a colleague of mine left the team. Rather than the usual ‘leaving do’ goodbyes and gifts, she asked for a Pink Tea to raise money for breast cancer research. Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in the UK with around 50,000 women diagnosed each year. It will directly affect one woman in eight during her lifetime, which is a phenomenal figure. Thanks to research and a determination to find ever better ways to treat it, the survival rate for breast cancer is much improved, but it is still nowhere near curable, with 12,000 women and 80 men continuing to die every year.
I have had some very close friends die from the awfulness of breast cancer and I have also seen friends survive. Some of those friends, only in their thirties, have had very young children. Some have been older, but nonetheless full of enthusiasm for a future of promise, before they were diagnosed. But breast cancer is a lottery of the worst kind. Who it affects, who dies, who survives seems random and harsh. The colleague who was leaving the team is a survivor.
So Pink Tea it was! It was held on Pink Friday………… no frenzied shopping expeditions for us, just a sedate but joyful session of nibbling pink delights. I needed to make something special!
I was already making some strawberry heart biscuits for the event, but needed cake to take too. Everybody loves cake!
As often happens in my head, the idea of pink drizzle cake came to me in the middle of the night. I wanted it to be naturally ‘pink’ flavoured, so settled on using freeze-dried raspberries to marry with the lemon in the sponge. As both are quite tart, they worked well alongside each other, giving a fabulous twist to the usual straight lemon drizzle. Although the raspberry gives a natural pinkness to the sponge, I did add a little pink colouring as well, to be absolutely sure that it met the colour criteria. The icing however is totally natural, with no extra ‘paint’ added.
I know I have said this so many times before, but I love using freeze-dried fruit and fruit powders. Not only are they totally natural, but the flavours locked into them are intense and powerful. Raspberry powder packs a hefty berry punch and is one of my favourites. I don’t bother with the piddly little pots you usually find in the supermarket any more, but buy in much larger quantities from Healthy Supplies, which works out way better value if you are baking with it.
I will be honest, I made a couple of drizzly disasters before I settled on the final recipe below, but the end result is amazing. This cake is dense, yet beautifully moist and syrupy. It is sharp and tangy, yet shot through with a wonderful sweetness from the sugar. The crisp coat of the icing contrasts and enhances the softness of the sponge. It is a perfect balance of flavours and textures which leaves you wanting at least another slice.
The disasters have not been wasted either….. trifle is very forgiving!
I am sharing this amazing pink drizzle cake with a couple of challenges :
I know this cake isn’t a Christmas bake specifically (although it would be enjoyed at any foodie celebration I am sure), but it does contain xanthan gum, which happily begins with ‘X’. My disasters were disasters because they were too crumbly and one of the critical alterations that I made with the final recipe was to re-balance by adding a little more xanthan gum. For those of you less familiar with gluten free baking, the lack of gluten means lesser binding properties which can leave you with bakes that disintegrate before your eyes. There are a number of additions that you can make to gluten free flour to replace the gluten and support the structure, xanthan gum being one of the most popular and available. Thus I am offering this cake as a legitimate ‘X’-rated entry.
Raspberry-Lemon Drizzle Cake (makes 1x 9 inch/23 cm tray bake)
- Sponge : Preheat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3. Base line a 9 inch/23 cm square loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper.
- Weigh and mix together the flour, polenta, almonds, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and raspberry powder, making sure any lumps are completely broken down. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy.
- Beat the eggs in one at a time until smooth.
- Add and beat in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest and food colouring if using.
- Fold in the flour mix until evenly combined.
- Spoon the batter into the cake tin and smooth the top.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until the top springs back to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave in the cake tin.
- Drizzle syrup & Icing : Whilst the cake is still warm, mix the juice, water and raspberry powder for the syrup in a small microwavable heat-proof bowl or a small saucepan.
- Add 120g icing sugar and stir to blend.
- Heat in the microwave or saucepan, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is liquid.
- Use a skewer or chopstick to make holes across the surface of the sponge and then drizzle some of the syrup into the holes (I used a kitchen syringe for accuracy).
- Add the rest of the icing sugar to the remaining syrup, stir and reheat to dissolve. This will ensure a thicker icing for the topping.
- Spoon and spread the icing over the surface of the cake whilst still in the tin and leave to completely cool and set.
- When cold, remove the cake from the tin and serve.