There are certain things that you can’t always see the point of until you cook them. It is usually very simple things with straightforward recipes and few ingredients. Very often we look for inspiration and exotic concoctions, rather than old-fashioned and easy things.
A loaf cake definitely falls into this category. The concept seems to be almost pointless. Why would you bother to make or eat a cake without a filling, without icing and jam? The shape of a loaf cake is pedestrian and dull; there is no fancy decoration, usually no buttercream, no edible glitter or roses made from icing. However, this is actually where the appeal of the loaf cake lies; it is the utter simplicity of texture and flavour that is comforting and utterly satisfying. It is homely, warming and nostalgic, like something your grandma would always have in the cake tin. It is essentially, a hug in cake form.
This light sponge, spiked with a tangy citrus syrup will not win any competitions for novelty baking, but it is all the better for it. It is also the easiest cake you can make, with no layers or icing to worry about. You can use a stand mixer, or just a wooden spoon and bowl. The syrup also creates so much extra moisture, it will keep for days.
Lemon & Lime Syrup Loaf Cake
175 g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
175 g self raising flour or plain flour with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
splash of milk
3. Cream together butter and sugar until the mixture lightens in colour a little
4. Add eggs and zest, beating them in well. The mixture will look curdled-do not worry, this is normal.
5. Add the flour and mix well. Add the milk. The consistency should be slightly firmer than dropping consistency-this means when you take a spoonful of batter and tilt it, it will fall off the spoon slowly.
6. Spoon the batter into your prepared tin and bake for 45 mins or until cake tester comes out clean.
7. While the cake is cooking, put the lemon and lime juices and sugar into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.
8. As soon as cake is out of oven, puncture all over with skewer and slowly spoon over the syrup. Don’t worry if the cake drops a little. Leave cake to cool completely before removing from the tin.
This recipe also works incredibly well with just lemons or just limes. For lime, just add the zest of 2 limes to the cake mixture and then use the juice of 4 for the syrup. For lemon, add the zest of one lemon and the juice of 2.