|As an alternative to the rich and leaden fruit cake of Victorian
tradition I think this one might prove popular. It has a most refreshing
flavour and attractive texture. There is nothing in the least troublesome
about it, even to a reluctant cake maker like myself.
Ingredients are 250 g (1/2 lb) of plain white flour, 125 g (1/4
lb) of butter, 125 g (1/4 lb) of Demerara cane sugar, 125 g (1/4
lb) of seedless raisins, the grated peel and strained juice of one
large lemon, 125 ml (4 fl oz) of warm milk, 2 eggs, 1 level teaspoon
of bicarbonate of soda. To bake the cake, a 17-18 cm (6-1/27
in) round English cake tin, 8 cm (3 in) deep. (I use a non-stick
Crumble the softened butter into the flour until all is in fine
crumbs. Add the grated lemon peel, the sugar, and the raisins. Sift
in the bicarbonate. Beat the eggs in the warm milk. Add the strained
lemon juice. Quickly incorporate this into the main mixture and
pour into the tin. Give the tin a tap or two against the side of
the table to eliminate air pockets. Transfer immediately to the
preheated oven (190° C/375° F gas mark 5). Bake for about
50 minutes until the cake is well risen and a skewer inverted right
to the bottom of the cake comes out quite clean. Leave to cool for
a few minutes before turning it out of the tin.
The Demerara sugar is important. Barbados is too treacly for this
The raisins I have been using of recent years are the little reddish
ones, seedless, from Afghanistan. They need no soaking, no treatment
at all. Just add them straight into the cake mixture. They are to
be found in wholefood shops.
It is important to put the cake into the oven as soon as you have
added the eggs, milk, and lemon juice mixture. This is because the
lemon juice and bicarbonate start reacting directly they come into
contact. If the cake is kept waiting, the rising action of the acid
and the alkali is partially lost and the cake will rise badly.
Under the name of Shooting Cake, the recipe on which mine is based
appeared in Ulster Fare, a little book published by the Ulster Women's
Institute in 1944. I was struck by the composition of the cake --
the Demerara sugar, the lemon juice replacing the acid or cream
of tartar necessary to activate the bicarbonate and the grated peel
instead of the more usual spices.
--Unpublished, December 1978
Copyright © The Estate of Elizabeth David, 2000