I think that a lemon cake is about one of the loveliest tea-time anythings that anyone could ever hope to eat.
This little twist, my friends, is to me as close to cake heaven as I can get. Exquisite in its simplicity, unadorned with icing or anything fancy schmancy, it’s a cake that stands proudly on any tea table, bringing with it the intoxicating aromas of clementines and cardamom.
I always find cardamom as one of those spices that travels seamlessly between sweet and savoury dishes.
It’s essential to many curries and just as delicious in sweet treats – just like in this little cake, or pannacotta or spiced syrups for drizzling over all manner of pudding lovelies.
One of my favourite memories of the spice comes from a visit to Zanzibar a few years ago, where they drink spiced Zanzibari tea made up of cardamom, cinnamon, lemongrass and mint by the litre at the night markets. Surprisingly, it’s also well loved in Scandinavian cooking.
Green cardamom, also known as ‘true cardamom’ is native to India and surrounding areas, it’s now grown commercially in spaces in Guatemala, and is actually the third most expensive spice in the world, after saffron and vanilla. Black cardamom, slightly smokier than it’s green rival, is mainly grown in Asia and Australia.
And, if you’d like to try a variation on this cake, you could use clementines along with 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary instead of the cardamom.
Or opt for lemon and lavender using lemons where you see clementines, and adding in 1 tsp lavender flowers to the batter.
125g unsalted butter
2-3 heaped tsp clementine zest
1 cup castor sugar
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
½ cup natural yoghurt or buttermilk
Clementine and Cardamom Syrup:
Juice of 3 clementines (or equivalent to 1/3 cup)
2 Tbsp castor sugar or 2 Tbsp honey (or more to taste)
6 cardamom pods, bruised
1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Grease a 23cm square baking tin or a loaf tin and line with baking paper.?
2. Cream together the butter, clementine zest and sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy, 3-4 minutes. ?
3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between each addition, and then gently fold in the flour and yoghurt until the mixture is just incorporated.?
4. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven, prick holes in the top and allow to cool for a few minutes while you make the syrup.?
5. To make the syrup, simmer the ingredients in a small saucepan until the sugar or honey have dissolved, and then bring to the boil for 3 minutes without stirring. Allow to cool slightly then pour over the cooled cake and serve.