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      RECIPE TITLE "LEMON AND BROWN SUGAR CAKE" from Is There a Nutmeg in the House? : Essays on Practical Cooking with More than 150 Recipes Copyright © The Estate of Elizabeth David, 2000

    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 (6-1/2–7 in) round English cake tin, 8 cm (3 in) deep. (I use a non-stick tin.)

    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 cake.
    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

    HOT! We recommend:

    Is There a Nutmeg in the House? Is There a Nutmeg in the House?
    Along with M.F.K. Fisher and Julia Child, Elizabeth David changed the way we think about and prepare food. Her nine books, written with impeccable wit and considerable brilliance, helped educate the taste (and taste buds) of the postwar generation. Insisting on authentic recipes and fresh ingredients, she taught that food need not be complicated to be delicious. Elizabeth David, who died in 1992, was a very private person who seldom gave interviews. However, a 1984 collection of her journalism entitled An Omelet and a Glass of Wine greatly revealed David to her readers and is now considered the best food book written in the 20th century. Now, nearly twenty years later, Viking will publish the sequel to that landmark book. Is There a Nutmeg in the House? contains material that has never appeared in previous collections. The emphasis throughout is on the practical aspects of cooking and eating and the book includes 150 recipes from around the world. Delightful essays on her various likes and dislikes-from the wonders of nutmeg to the utterly useless garlic press-complete a unique picture of what for so long made David the most influential writer on food in the English language.


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