It was the simplest of ideas. To meet of a summer’s evening, drink tea and eat cake.
Gisela, from Life is a Festival, who organised yesterday’s Dublin Tea Up, asked only that you bring yourself, your favourite mug and a baked contribution if you were so inclined (and yes, as you’ll see later, I was).
The result was an Irish teatime gone into overdrive – currant scones and butter, rhubarb tart, swiss roll, iced buns, treacly flapjacks and more. There was even a lady who, in true Mrs. Doyle style, would (go on, go on) offer you one of her baked treats (you will, you will) until such time as you took it (which I did, I did).
And there was tea, of course. A summer berry iced tea and some lovely loose leafed varieties dispensed by Dairine of Clement and Pekoe.
But more than cake and more than tea, there was chat (and even a tune or two). This was a diverse group of people from the arts, who, by and large, had not met before, except in the internet sense of the word. But it turns out that we had plenty to talk about over a cuppa (or several). It was the kind of gathering that, despite involving neither pubs nor alcohol, could actually catch on.
Lemon Cake With Redcurrants
This was one of my contributions to yesterday’s feast of tea and cake. It’s adapted from a recipe entitled Lemon Crusty Cake in Sue Lawrence’s lovely book, On Baking. I adore the original – tart, sweet and moist all at the same time – a zesty lemon cake drenched in a mixture of lemon juice and sugar as soon as it comes out of the oven.
For a different, but equally tart effect, I have replaced the lemon zest in the cake with redcurrants, which are enjoying their short but glorious season. Raspberries would be an equally good choice.
- 175g plain flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 150g unsalted butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 tblsp cream
- 150g redcurrants, washed and stalks removed (or substitute raspberries)
- juice of 2 large lemons (about 100ml)
- 100g demerara sugar
You’ll also need:
- A shallow-ish rectangular baking tin, mine was about 27cm x 18cm x 4cm deep
- Preheat your oven to 180C, grease your tin and line with greaseproof paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
- Cream the butter until very soft, then add the sugar and continue creaming until pale and smooth.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, folding in a spoonful of the flour after each addition.
- Fold in the rest of the flour and then gently stir in the cream and the redcurrants – the mixture will have a stiff dropping consistency.
- Bake for around 25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out fairly clean.
- While the cake is baking, combine the lemon juice and demerara sugar. Pour this mixture over the cake immediately it comes out of the oven. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes in the tin, then cut into squares and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. It’s very moist and lovely with a cup of tea or as a dessert served with yoghurt or sour cream.
- If you’re making this later in the year, it might be worth trying cranberries in place of the redcurrants or raspberries. You can also leave out the fruit if you like and just add the zest of a lemon to the cake mixture (which makes it very similar to the original recipe).
- Make approx 24 x 4cm-ish squares