Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Raymond Blanc - A Cake and a Memory

If your life was to be put into a book.  If from the moment you were born to the moment you are now was penned in an enjoyable prose which page would you turn to first?  Which time in your life would you most like to recall?  To read all about it as if you where someone looking in.  Moments such as Weddings and arrivals of the first born would spring to the minds of many of us I'm sure.

Outside the restaurant at Le Manoir
One chapter that would be pretty high on a list of must read bits from my own life would be my 30th birthday party.  Life seemed to change when I hit 30.  Suddenly I became of the opinion that I've been on this planet long enough to actually know what I'm talking about.  I'm not sure that anyone else thought that way though!

Without question the most memorable part of my 30th birthday was a surprise weekend away.  My wife and I had started to develop a tendency for blowing our meager savings on the ultimate in fine dining.  On these eating escapades I would be like a bright eyed child on the night before Christmas, eager beyond words and precariously excited by all who walked past our table.  'What are they doing?  Oh that's pretty.  Mmmm what is that smell?  Did you see that dessert?  Oh my gosh I can't wait for dessert.'

Picking up on this my wife treated the two of us to 2 nights at Le Manoir Aux Quart Saison.  Raymond Blanc's countryside retreat in Oxfordshire, England, which is both a 2 Michelin star restaurant and a five star bed and breakfast.  It is the epitome of indulgence.  Huge ornately decorated rooms, with all the luxuries you can imagine.  A world famous restaurant that serves classic french cuisine.  The largest vegetable garden you have ever seen where Raymond's dedicated team grow as many things as they can for use in the restaurant kitchen.  Beautiful grounds to walk around and relax before dinner.  A wine list and a menu which would make any foodie weak at the knees.  Heaven.

Just part of the most impressive vegetable garden I've ever seen!
When guided to our room we were asked if we would like some tea and cake.  Being where we were it would have been foolish to turn down any food on offer so we accepted gratefully.  The cake that arrived was a moist and delicious lemon cake.  Tangy with citrus bite and covered in a decadently sweet glaze it was a great first or many magnificent mouthfuls that weekend.

Watching Food TV last Monday I saw none other than Raymond Blanc exclaiming how we should all get into baking.  And to demonstrate he cooked that very lemon cake.  I watched it through with a grin from ear to ear.  Recalling the joy that was my 30th birthday present from my lovely wife.  I also thought this must be shared with all!

I'm not a baker.  In fact far from it.  When work holds morning teas I get away with cooking savories such as a nice quiche or going all sweet with a good tart.  Loathed will I be if I have to actually put a cake together!  Well the good news with this baked delight is that it requires almost no skill at all!  Simply put the ingredients together, chuck it in the oven and then jazz it up with a few extra touches.

Raymond Blanc's Lemon Cake
courtesy of Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets, Monday 8.30pm, Food TV

Nothing like a freshly baked cake


280g plain Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
300g Caster Sugar
5 Eggs
Juice and Zest of 3 Lemons
140g Cream
80g Melted Butter
2 Tbsp Rum

50g Apricot Jam or Maramlade
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
150g Icing Sugar


1. In a large bowl put the eggs, sugar, zest and juice of the 3 lemons, double cream, and melted butter.  Whisk well to combine.
2.  Add the Rum and whisk again.
3.  Add the sifted flour and baking powder.  Whisk vigorously to create a thick, smooth batter.

The batter should be thick enough that the whisk leaves a trail.
 4.  Pour the batter into a baking tin lined with baking paper.  I used a 30cm loaf tin.

5.  Place in an oven at 180 degrees C for 50-60 minutes.
6.  Test it is cooked by stabbing with a skewer.  If the skewer comes out clean then the cake is ready.
7.  Remove from the tin and leave to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack.
8.  Heat the Apricot/Marmalade Jam gently in a saucepan.  When warm and viscous use a pastry brush to coat the lemon cake with the jam.
9.  Make the Lemon icing by adding the Icing Sugar and the Lemon Juice together in a saucepan and heat gently while stirring until you have thick icing (about 3-5 minutes).
10.  Coat the cake with the Lemon Icing using the pastry brush.  Leave to cool and then cut a huge slice and enjoy with a cup of earl grey tea.

Where's that cup of tea?

1 comment:

  1. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods, Anthony. I've missed your blogs and recipes.