Where would we be in winter without lemons? Citrus comes into season just as flu, colds and the cold bite. I juice a lemon and sip first thing in hot water to kick start every day. Since I started this routine, around two years ago, I’ve barely had a cold or my interminable sinusitis that would plague each winter and linger well into spring. There’s no way I can test a ‘placebo’ but my theory is that the daily lemon juice is working its magic.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the health benefits of drinking lemon when you get up, take a look at blogger Tasty Yummies’ ‘10 Health Benefits to Drinking Warm Lemon Water every Morning‘. Even if the idea doesn’t appeal, I’d advise keeping a stock of lemons to hand as a bit of lemon zest (and chopped parsley too if you have it) makes an instant pep up topping to bland meals from pasta sauces to fish and meat. Lemons are also useful as an antiseptic and a good household cleaner (for fridge interiors and glass especially).
I keep a good stock of lemons to deter winter bugs. While lemon with a sweetener takes the edge off the fruit’s benefits, not all of the family love lemon in the raw as much as I do so I add some thyme and carob honey to the warm water for son and the husband.
Talking of bitter-sweetness, let’s move on to the topic at hand – this light-as-a-feather, lemon chiffon cake. Lemon cakes of any type are my favourite and seem appropriate to nibble with coffee (think plain lemon sand cakes with polenta and yoghurt) or for tea at weekends, like this amazingly light lemon chiffon cake. Then for dinner party desserts, lemon and ricotta cheesecake or a classic lemon tart or mousse. Lemons weren’t too common on my childhood menus in England but when they did hit the table, they’d be coated with meringue in a tart. Jacob loves lemon meringue and along with classic Sicilian cassatella, it’s his first choice on cafe trips. I tend to prefer lemons tart and not in tarts as I like bitter rather than overly sweet lemon sweets.
This lemon chiffon cake cuts it at most times of day, if you don’t cover it liberally with fresh cream (as I did here!). Make it plain and add a blob of whipped cream to the side if you’re limiting dairy intake. I made this first as a spring-time bake for the magazine of local supermarket Smart, here in Malta, using their Tesco range Lemon Curd for the filling. If you’ve time and inclination, you can try my homemade lemon curd recipe here. But when fresh lemons get expensive in summer, a jar of lemon curd is worth having to hand.
Before winter is out and lemons go squishy in the heat, I think I’ll try that Claudia Roden recipe for Preserved Lemons. The fruit loves salt as much as it loves sweet!Lemon lovers' delight. A double whammy of sweet & sour in this zesty lemon curd sponge cake. Click To Tweet
All images © Liz Ayling 2015
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 225g plain flour
- 2 tsps cornflour
- 125g granulated sugar
- 2 level tsps baking powder
- 3 tbsps vegetable or corn oil (ie. sunflower)
- juice of half a lemon and zest of a whole one
- 2 tbsps water
- Filling & Icing
- Ready-made or homemade Lemon Curd
- 300ml whipping cream
- 2 tbsps icing sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Grease and line the base of two 20cm cake tins, or ideally use silicon moulds.
- Place 3 egg yolks in a bowl along with the oil, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and water. Using electric beaters, whisk up til combined.
- Sieve the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Then, stir them into the wet ingredients til just combined.
- Using a clean bowl and beater, whisk up the egg whites until stiff meringue peaks. Then, a large spoonful at a time, fold the whites into the cake mix.
- Divide the mixture between the two tins and cook for 35 mins til risen and lightly golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Then, carefully slice each cake horizontally.
- If using icing, whisk the cream til firm then stir in 3 tbsps of lemon curd.
- To make up the cake, spread lemon curd on the cut side of one layer, cover with the next layer and continue with curd layers leaving the top free for the cream.
- Cover the cake in the whipped curd cream using a palette knife to smooth. Chill until ready to serve, and decorate with lemon zest.