30 August 2009


I just love Nigel Slater, don’t you? I mean, not in a stalker sort of way; rather, in a bloggy sort of way. From afar. From the kitchen, to be exact. His cookbooks are currently my favorites. (NOTE: International Truth in Blogging rules compel me to specify that I can be fickle when it comes to cookbooks. But Nigel is always near the top of my list) I love his no-nonsense approach to cooking: You’re just making something to eat. I also love that he tells us how to do something and then tells us variations on that.

My favorite of his books to date is Kitchen Diaries. Over the course of a year, Nigel tells us what he’s cooking. Not every day, but about three times a week. He speaks about his garden and what’s ripe and what he does with it. He has company and worries a little but not too much about what to serve. He makes wonderful food that I’d like to eat (Nigel: I’m normally available on Friday evenings...) and he writes beautifully about it.

I often pull out this book to get ideas. His ingredients are always fresh, and his meals are always interesting. One of the recipes that I’ve taken from his book is this cake. I love the texture of it and the ease of making it. It has just the perfect crumb to go with ice cream, or raspberry sauce or just a cup of tea. Or nothing. It goes just perfectly in my mouth, thank you! Of course I changed it. Not too much, but some. I think Nigel would approve.

What’s your current favorite cook book?

Nigel’s lemon cake

200 g / 7 oz (1 3/4 sticks) butter

200 g / 1 cup sugar + 2 Tablespoons for the syrup

90 g / 2/3 cup plain flour + more for the pan

90 g / 3/4 cup ground almonds

3/4 tsp baking powder

zest and juice from one large lemon

4 large eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 160 C / 375 F.
  2. Prepare a large loaf pan by cutting baking paper to fit the length, letting the excess fall over the sides. Grease and flour the ends of the tin.
  3. Mix the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and lemon zest in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and 200 g sugar till light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. The mixture might curdle at this point, but don’t worry--keep going. It will be ok after you add the dry ingredients.
  5. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Nigel recommends using a metal spoon to avoid knocking the air out. Scrape the batter (it will be thick) into the prepared loaf pan.
  6. Bake 45 minutes, until risen and golden brown on top.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.
  8. While the cake is cooling, make the syrup: mix the juice of your large lemon with 2 Tablespoons of sugar. You want this to be tart but not too puckery. When the cake is cool, pierce it all over with a bamboo skewer and spoon the syrup over it. Let it soak in. At this point, I usually sprinkle a little more sugar over the top to hide the holes.

This is perfect with a fruit sauce or coulis. It positively begs for some cream or ice cream. Or a nice thick Greek yogurt.

Notes: Nigel uses demerara sugar for this, but I can’t get that here. I made it once with brown sugar, and it had a heavenly flavor, but the color was a little gray. So I stick to white sugar, and it has a lovely yellow color.


  • When I have some nice berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), I put half the batter in the pan and make a layer of berries and then add rest of the batter. It’s important to flour the berries first, though, or they just sink to the bottom.
  • You can make a lemon glaze to pour over the top by mixing icing sugar / powdered sugar with lemon juice.


La Table De Nana said...

Kate I must confess I did not know of I will Google of course..Thank you for the intro..the recipe and the lovely loaf~

Sara @ Our Best Bites said...

Yum- I love love lemon- this sounds heavenly!

One of my favorite cookbooks right now is Williams-Sonoma's Family Meals book by Maria Sinskey. I'm loving every single thing I've tried from it- a sure sign of a keeper!

Jane said...

I love the simplicity of cakes like this . . . deliciousness, elegance, no unnecessary frills. Looks wonderful, Kate.

Bob said...

I don't think I've ever heard of Nigel, but he sounds like my kind of cook. Heh. The cake looks awesome, I can't get enough lemon cake.

Hungry Dog said...

The cake looks gorgeous.

My favorite cookbook is Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I also like anything by Ina Garten.

Money Funk said...

Oh thank you for the measurements in American lingo. :)

I love lemon and this sounds really good with fresh berries and creme fraich.

btw, totally envious of your profile!

Elizabeth said...

Hello Kate - I am a big fan of Nigel's as well...I seem to just fall in love with everything he does! This cake looks fantastic! First time on your site - lovely!

Grace said...

i don't know of mr slater or his kitchen prowess, but i do know a tasty cake when i see it. berries are definitely a necessary ingredient.
meanwhile, i'm still willing to take a crack at your template if you want!

Lizzy said...

Kate, your cake looks so sweet. I just love the flavor of lemons too. I'm curious, does it have a pound cake texture or is it light and airy?

Kate at Serendipity said...

Thanks for the kind words and the cookbook recommendations! I don't know the Williams-Sonoma one, I'm afraid. We don't have WS in Belgium (more's the pity..) But we DO have Amazon!

This cake is very moist and has a crumb a little coarser than pound cake. It's the kind of cake that you can pick up easily with the back of a fork. In fact, you WANT to pick it up with the back of a fork... Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo after I cut it.

As for measurements in American--I understand how hard it is to make the translation if you dont' have a kitchen scale. Luckily, I"m bi-lingual, recipe-wise!

I think that the measurement thing is probably why the North Americans don't know Nigel very well. He's worth checking out, though, I promise! I dont' know if his cookbooks have been translated into American.

Elizabeth, welcome! Come back!

Grace, I sent you an email. Let me know if you didn't get it, ok?

Juliana said...

The lemon cake looks so yummie, love all the lemony stuff.

eatlivetravelwrite said...

I love Nigel too though he doesn't seem to be so well known over this side of the pond - more's the pity.

I loved the Kitchen Diaries too but also really enjoyed the autobiography "Toast".

Nice post Kate!

Su-yin @ Bread et Butter said...

I love lemon cakes, especially those with poppy seeds or berries in them. :) This one is different from the ones I've made in the past, as it has ground almonds in it. Very interesting!

I think my current favourite cookbooks are the ones from BBC Good Food, and also the Donna Hay magazine. I know the magazine doesn't really count as a cookbook, but the photos are too amazing to resist. Good photos always manage to inspire me. :)

Kate at Serendipity said...

Juliana, thank you. I think lemon is one of the basic food groups. Along with chocolate.

ELTW, I think Nigel's not so well known over there because he doesn't translate his measurements. Other than that I can't imagine why everyone over there isn't in love with him too. Especially after reading Toast!

Su-yin, the almonds make this cake dense and moist. I love it. I don't know Donna Hay. I'll have to see if I can find it over here. Next time you're coming Belgium, let me know and I"ll send you the addresses for Darcis chocolate shops.

Kate said...

This sounds so wonderful. I love lemon cakes. I have just found something to do today, make a cake! I do not have any of his cookbooks. I am also going exploring!

Chanel11 said...

Thanks for posting the recipe - it was delicious!