This is a lovely, simple cake to make, traditionally served with a small glass of madeira we had ours with a nice cuppa. You can omit the icing if you like depending on your own preference, but we like things sweet round here so we have covered ours with tangy lemon icing. The Thyme gives a very subtle flavour – you don’t need to put it in , but tastes lovely with it and goes great with the lemon.
This recipe is based on the lemon madeira cake in the river cottage bakery book and the original recipe is very similar only it uses more lemons and doesn’t use mixed peel or thyme.
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus 2 tbsp juice
2-3 tbsp of mixed peel or candied peel
150g caster sugar
2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves only
For the topping
150g icing sugar
11/2 tbsp lemon juice Fresh,
sprig of fresh thyme
1-litre loaf tin, I used silicone which doesn’t need lining, but for tin…er…tins please butter and line with baking paper.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with the lemon zest, using either a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric whisk, to a cream. Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is very light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, adding 1 tbsp of the flour with each and beating thoroughly before adding the next egg. Fold in the remaining flour, using a large metal spoon, then fold in the lemon juice, mixed peel and thyme leaves.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out lightly and evenly with the back of the spoon. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes until the cake is well risen, springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, for the topping, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Beat in the lemon juice, a little at a time, until the icing is glossy and fairly stiff. Spread thickly on top of the cake and decorate with the thyme. This cake will keep for 10 days in an airtight tin.