The sad facts of life when you grow up include having to work on your birthday. No one in the real world actually cares that it is your birthday. However, a good way to make them all care is by baking cake. I made lemon drizzle cake, the recipe for which came from the back of a Yeo Valley yoghurt pottle. And a very good recipe it was too, I am still getting almost daily requests for a repeat of the lemon drizzle cake at work.
Lemon drizzle cake
150g caster sugar
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
150g natural yoghurt
1 large lemon, zested and juiced.
Preheat oven to 180c and line a cake tin. Soften the butter and beat together with sugar until it becomes light and pale (it is worth putting in the hard work here as it makes the cake light – beat it until your arm is ready to fall off). Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each one. You’ll notice the mixture will start to separate or curdle a little after the 3rd egg is added – not to worry.
Sieve the flour and baking soda over the butter mix and also add the yoghurt – fold all this together gently until half mixed. Then add the lemon zest and juice and stir through. Make sure you don’t over-stir the batter.
Pour into the cake tin and bake for around 40 mins, or maybe a little longer if you’re not using fan bake. At about 30 mins, have a little peek as you might need to cover with tin foil if it’s looking pretty toasty on the top already.
While the cake is baking, whip up some icing by taking 150g icing sugar and adding the juice and zest of another lemon. The consistency should be runnier than normal icing but not too runny – a ‘coat the back of a spoon’ kind of consistency.
Once the cake is ready (springs back to touch, or a knife comes out clean), prick the top of the cake with a fork all over and then immediately while still hot, pour over all the icing. Leave to cool.
I also made chocolate brownie. The recipe for chocolate brownie comes from a good friend and ex-house mate of mine who has always claimed she cannot cook. To illustrate, I have seen this friend eat an entire broccoli for dinner, steamed, solo. But anyway, this friend was given a chocolate brownie recipe of French origin, which apparently is so easy that anyone can make it, even if you can’t cook.
100g dark chocolate
Chopped walnuts, about half a cup, optional
Line a tin with baking paper. Preheat oven to 200c
Take a pot and place the butter, sugar and chocolate in here. On the lowest possible heat, melt all this together, stirring regularly. Once the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and beat in the two eggs. You now need to work quickly as the butter and chocolate will start to harden, so make sure you have everything measured ready to go!
Stir in the flour and walnuts, and put straight into the tin. Bake 12-15mins (no more than this), remove from the oven and let cool before cutting into slices and dusting with icing sugar.
Having made everyone happy with cake at work, I decided to go to a Sardinian restaurant in North London for dinner with my other half. It was here, over a bottle of prosecco, that I finally got to celebrate my birthday properly. And it’s only fitting, really, that I should have the best tiramisu since starting this blog, on my 28th birthday.
On glancing at the dessert menu of Trattoria Nuraghe I was a little disappointed to not see tiramisu listed, but the waiter turned back halfway to the kitchen and, as an afterthought, said “Oh, and we have a special of Baileys Tiramisu”. Excellent.
Now I have to say, I was a little dubious about ‘Baileys’ tiramisu, not being a huge fan of Baileys myself. I think I may have drunk a little too much of the stuff in my teens. Yet I quickly overcame my Baileys apprehension when a huge bowlful of homemade tiramisu covered in cocoa was put in front of us. Thank goodness we only ordered one serving.
Now this tiramisu was divine. The Zabaglione was deliciously creamy and light – we couldn’t believe the texture of it. It was runnier than usual, and had less mascarpone, if any at all. And the Baileys did not overwhelm the whole thing. All round this tiramisu was fabulous.
After we had scraped every last dash of creamy zabaglione and bitter cocoa from the bowl, the waiter whipped away our bowl and returned with a digestif of limoncello, on the house. Fantastic finish to my birthday.