Sweet

Sicilian Lemon Cake

The last trip I took to Italy, I brought back onions and lemons – and not just any lemons but large, juicy fragrant lemons. The kind that easily give you ½ cup of lemon juice. With the onions, I created Spicy Onion Confit that lasted us a month in omelets, salads and sandwiches… so with this lemon I aimed to try and last a month, but a cake calling was far stronger… the heart wants what it wants…

This lemon cake is a Sicilian version – wherein you beat the sugar and eggs first, unlike most other cake recipes which asks to cream the sugar with butter or oil first. You beat the eggs and sugar until they are light, frothy and almost white in colour, before adding the remaining ingredients. A traditional Sicilian cake has a similar concept of the pound cake – wherein all the ingredients are of equal quantities (eggs, sugar, oil, yoghurt, flour…) using the measurement of a yoghurt pot container. But every region of the world lends its own uniqueness to the ingredients – flour is not the same everywhere depending on soil quality, milling process and so on; eggs vary in weight, and most importantly, the lemons differ immensely. An Italian lemon is at times equivalent to 3 Indian lemons; simultaneously, a pinch of our lemon zest gives mammoth of flavor, equivalent to the whole Italian lemon zest. This is where people like me come in – to recreate world recipes and adapt them to our local ingredients. This process entails a lot of testing, baking and eating – a prime reason for the burgeoning love handles!

So here, I give you the final adapted recipe that works with our Indian ingredients as well as palate – I’ve divided the quantity of oil to include half olive oil and half regular vegetable oil – because not everyone enjoys the taste of olive oil in cakes around me – but this is my introduction for them. Slowly and steadily I will amp the quantity in various desserts!

The Recipe
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup + 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • powder sugar to dust

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Grease and flour a medium loaf tin
  • Cream the sugar and eggs for at least 4 minutes
  • Add the oil, milk, lemon juice and zest and beat for a few more minutes
  • Then add the dry ingredient and mix just to combine
  • Pour batter into cake tin
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes
  • Let cool completely before turning out
  • Dust with powder sugar