Lemon and black pepper sponge cake

Definite keeper.  The idea appropriated from the Guardian and adapted to our small scale desert appetites. It is not a dessert (too rich), it seems to best fit into the ‘afternoon tea’ component. We managed nicely to sample it during the day and evenings, no problem. It is not very sweet, has an interesting hot peppery bite – and it is an excellent option for those lactose-intolerant friends..  The best thing about it is that it is really easy to prepare!

IMG_3730Slice thinly (if it is at all possible; works better the next day) because it seems really rich. Beware of hot pepper!

Leftovers keep well, covered, in the fridge.

For 20 cm dia round cake, so possibly for 8 people?

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g sugar
  • 50g light brown soft sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • A generous pinch of salt
  • 50ml sour cream (the original calls for buttermilk, but i very rarely have it in the fridge, and a small dose like this is not easy to acquire..)

For finishing

  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 50g sugar
  • 150-200g lemon curd
  • Black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1-2 tsp lemon zest
  1. Heat the oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Grease and line a 20cm-diameter spring-form or loose-bottomed tin.
  3. Cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Stir in the lemon zest, pepper and eggs.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. Add half of this to the butter and sugar, along with the sour cream. Mix, then add the rest of the flour.
  7. Spoon the batter into the spring form and bake for 30-35 mins, until well-risen, golden brown and springy. A small knife inserted into the centre of the cake should emerge with no more than a crumb or two sticking to it.IMG_3721
  8. Remove the cake from the spring form and cool on a wire rack.IMG_3724
  9. When quite cool, cut it in half horizontally to give two thinner cake layers.IMG_3725
  10. Prepare the syrup by heating the lemon juice and sugar in a small pan and simmering for a minute or two.
  11. Pour over the cake layers while the syrup is still hot. Let cool off somewhat.IMG_3726
  1. Spread one half with the lemon curd and sandwich with the second half.
  2. Finish with just an extra grind of pepper and a sprinkling of finely grated zest on the top of the cake.IMG_3729

Post processing notes:

  1. I should try a rectangular shape (like a loaf of bread). It should work as well, may be easier to cut thin slices.
  2. The horizontal divide happened this time too low. Must try for even halves or, even, the top part, rather than the bottom one, being the ‘smaller, thinner, half’.
  3. Keep trim with the lemon curd. It is an essential component, no question, but , if too much,  it will make the cake layers slide around and will cause undesirable ‘pouring lava’ effect when slicing. I love lemon curd, but here even i must control myself.
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