SHERBET LEMON CAKE

The word ‘sherbet’ evokes memories of youth, but, ironically, I disliked sherbet as a child – I was a kid who needed a more toothsome, chewy sort of jelly sweet. This cake is perfect for baking with children, because the cake batter uses a ‘one mix’ method, so there is no need to go through the stages of making a cake, which can sometimes tire fickle little kids. And though it’s a simple cake to make, with a simple filling, the presentation takes it up a notch. This cake is a nod to all things youthful, but it is also absolutely acceptable at a sophisticated, child-free gathering. 

Matt Russell 

Ingredients - serves 10/12

For the candied lemon topping 

  • 2 lemons
  • 600ml water (in batches of 200ml)
  • 100g sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 75g golden caster sugar 

For the cake

  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g golden caster sugar 
  • 225g stork 
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder 

For the filling

  • 400ml whipping cream 
  • 500g mascarpone cheese 
  • 300g icing sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 packets of lemon Dip Dabs (sherbet only) 
  • Icing sugar, to dust 

Essential equipment

  • Two 20cm/8-inch loose- bottomed round cake tins, greased and lined with baking paper
  • Cake stand at least 20cm/ 8 inches across
  • Disposable piping bag fitted with 12mm nozzle 

Method

For the lemon topping, use a potato peeler to pare thick strips of peel from the lemons – if you get any white pith, scrape it off with a knife. Chop the lemon peel into thin matchsticks, then place in a small saucepan with 200ml water. Bring to the boil, then drain the water, place the lemon zest back into the pan with another 200ml water and repeat. Drain again then repeat – you should bring the lemon zest to the boil 3 times in total. Set the drained lemon zest matchsticks aside. Place the 100g sugar and 100ml water in the saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar is dissolved, then return the lemon zest and allow to poach for about 5 minutes. Drain. Place the 75g caster sugar in a bowl and add the lemon matchsticks. Toss in the sugar then arrange on a baking sheet and allow to dry out for a few hours (overnight is better).

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4.

Place the ingredients for the cake into a mixing bowl and beat together until well incorporated and smooth. If you have a freestanding electric mixer, use the paddle attachment. Divide the batter between the two prepared tins, and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, before removing from the tins and turning on to a cooling rack until completely cold.

Meanwhile, make the filling by whipping the cream to very soft floppy peaks. Fold this into the mascarpone along with the sifted icing sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Then quickly beat in the lemon juice – though don’t overbeat, as you don’t want the mixture to split.

When the cake is cooled, and the candied lemon is dry, slice each cake in half horizontally so that you have four layers. Place one on the cake stand. Fill the piping bag with the filling and pipe little blobs around the edge of the cake, then a spiral of filling in the centre. Sprinkle over a third of the sherbet, then top with another slice of cake. Repeat this until you have four layers of cake and three layers of cream and sherbet. Sift a layer of icing sugar over the top, then scatter over the candied lemon matchsticks.