November 30, 2020

LEMON AND SULTANA BUNDT CAKE, an early birthday present and a bit of a rant about the Bake Off!

We watched the final of the Great British Bake Off last week, rather grudgingly I might add - but more of that later.  I was shocked and saddened to see the tribute to a former contestant, Luis Troyano, appear in the credits at the end.  I instantly remembered who he was, a gentle giant of a man who produced exceptionally good bread during bread week.  He was a finalist in series five in 2014 and was only 48 when he died of cancer just a few weeks ago.

As so many of the contestants do, he produced a book after that series finished and I bought it a while ago.  Until now the only thing in the book I have made is his pumpkin pie, which was, in fact, divine.  You can see that if you go here. 

48 is no age at all.  Amidst all the trials and tribulations that this year has thrown at us, the perpetual fear of impending doom, the worry, the isolation, the pandemic waistline and brain fog, the intense longing for normality, it's frightening to realise that all the other things that normally get us are still out there as well.

A sense of my own mortality set in and with gay abandon I took up Nick's offer of an early birthday present.  My birthday is only a couple of weeks away anyway but what if I didn't make it that far?  You just never know.  

I already own a Kenwood Chef which resides in France.  I took it there thinking that that's where I would do most baking and for a few years that was the case.  Oh but how I have missed it this year!  And how thrilled I am to now have this retro styled baby Kenwood!  I christened it without delay by baking my own little tribute to Luis, the recipe for a lemon and sultana Bundt cake that's in his book.

There was too much mixture for this particular Bundt tin and remembering that I read somewhere that you shouldn't fill them by more than three quarters I used the excess to make four muffins.  Bundt tins do vary in volume depending on the design so in a different tin the quantity of mixture would probably have been perfect.  (This design is called "elegant party".)

The baking time was given as one hour but after exactly an hour I would say that mine was, to quote Paul Hollywood, slightly over baked.  The top (or the bottom of the cake) had a distinctly dark appearance so next time I would check after 50 minutes.  (On re-reading the recipe it seems I overlooked the part about covering with foil to prevent burning after 45 minutes!)

And now for my little rant about the Bake Off.  Jump to the recipe if you're not interested!

The contest was in its hey day when Luis was a contestant.  The wonderful Mary Berry was one of the  judges, Paul Hollywood (the Craig Revel Horwood of baking competitions) was the other and Mel and Sue were joint hosts.  Mel and Sue were a class act, providing intelligent humour, support and comfort to the contestants and an all round feel good feeling.

When the show moved to Channel 4 and all but Paul Hollywood quit, I thought it would never be as good.  However, I quickly took to Pru Leith.  Paul was just the same old Paul but we also had that nincompoop, Noel Fielding to contend with.  His puerile sense of humour was somewhat compensated for by the clever and witty Sandy Toksvig whose silly japes I didn't mind so much, but now that she has left and Matt Lucas came along instead things went rapidly downhill IMHO.

We have found the series almost unwatchable, the inane fifth form common room jokes and pranks intensely irritating and cringe worthy.  In order to stop ourselves from throwing things at the TV we have recorded programmes and watched later so that we could whizz through most of the waffle.  I don't know what Channel 4 are aiming for but it's not the quality programme it used to be with that pair of idiots cruising round and hassling the contestants while they're having a meltdown over their crème pat.  Rant over.

So this cake was my tribute to the gentle and talented Luis Troyano.  There are lots of other really lovely recipes in his book which I highly recommend.  I shall bake my way through a few more and no doubt write about them.

His recipe for this particular cake includes a glaze made with limoncello but I thought the cake looked quite beautiful without it and turned out to be amply lemony enough as it was.  Definitely a cake I shall be making again.  R.I.P. Luis.


225g softened butter (I used Tesco Butterpak Spreadable)

500g caster sugar

4 large eggs

380g plain flour

1 tblsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

120ml buttermilk

120ml lemonjuice

170g sultanas (tossed in a little flour to prevent sinking)

zest of 2 lemons, finely grated


Prepare your Bundt tin by buttering generously and dusting with flour or using this method here.  Preheat the oven to 190 C / 170 fan / gas mk 5.

Using your brand new Kenwood mixer (ahem!) or a hand held electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add and beat in the eggs one at a time along with a spoonful of the flour to prevent curdling.

Add all the other ingredients and beat until well combined.  Pour into the tin and level the top, remembering not to fill by more than three quarters.  Give the tin a few sharp taps on the worktop to ensure there are no air gaps and bake for about one hour.  Cover with foil after 45 minutes and check for doneness after 50 minutes.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Depending on the design of your tin, cuts into 15-20 slices.


  1. I have never seen Bake-off. I was under the impression that it featured middle-aged couples dressed skimpily in cooking film, risking syncope by dancing to excess. It turns out that's another programme I've also avoided, along with - and here I risk upchucking - Mrs Brown's Boys.

    But the word bundt - albeit without the terminal t - caught my eye. Ah yes - German American Bund, an organization of US Nazis and Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s and 1940s. Coo, I actually met one of its ex-members when I worked in the USA. The link with cakes was harder to establish.

    T-less bundt has another meaning (several in fact): embankment, dyke, an embanked road or quay. Kinda discouraging when related to cakes.

    I thought it was jolly sporting of you to post a pic revealing an over-cooked cake. I wondered briefly - very briefly - whether I should allow my split infinitives to remain visible to readers instead of correcting them in my blog. Decided not. You're well ahead of me in blogging morality.

    1. Roderick, the best Bundt tins are made in the USA by a company called Nordic Ware.
      It seems that the European tube pan was used to make a cake for a large gathering or party which is a bund in German. (It was also known as a kugelhopf or gugelhopf cake.) The American who developed it in the US added a "t" so that it was pronounced with a hard "d" instead of a soft one. Well, that's one version of events anyway!
      The advantage of a tube pan is that a large cake will cook quicker and more evenly when there is a hole in the middle which allows the heat to cook the middle of the cake.
      So now we know!

  2. What an absolute stunner of a cake, Jean! A fitting tribute to Louis, I really liked him on Bake Off too. I might need to bookmark this as I love the texture buttermilk gives cakes and lemon is always a winner for me.

    Interesting to hear your opinions on Bake Off, it's funny how we all differ. For example, I couldn't stand Sandi Toksvig. I found her jokes painfully scripted and contrived and I just generally didn't warm to her. I had no real expectations of Matt Lucas but have actually preferred his dynamic with Noel, it feels more similar to Mel and Sue (they were quite silly, naughty and smutty too.) Granted they're more juvenile and surreal/weird but it's all pretty harmless and it feels more off the cuff, so generally I've enjoyed this series more than previous channel four years. The original bbc series, especially the early ones, are still my favourites though.

    1. Jo, it's fascinating that we see things so differently! One man's trash is another man's treasure and all that!
      This recipe would be a perfect reason for you to dig out your Bundt tin!

  3. I wish I could dig out my bundt tin but, following a lengthy and bemused search, I have to admit that it's missing presumed binned. A simple combination of lemon and sultana in a cake is a thing of joy and serves as a fine tribute. We've lost so many good people this year and I'm saddened to hear about one more gone so young. I'd like to comment on Bake Off but, to be honest, I've tried watching it several times over the years and I've never enjoyed it. It could be worse, though, it might feature that deeply annoying shouty bloke who turns up far too often on tv and repeatedly bellows "AMAZING!" at mundane things in food factories.

    1. Phil, have you checked the wardrobe? That's where I keep mine.....they're awkward things to store and take up too much space in the kitchen cupboard!
      I presume you mean Greg Wallace and he's one of TV's mysteries to me, in that I'm not sure how he gets so much air time.

  4. I might not have bothered with GBBO this year if it hadn't been for lockdown. As it was, I found it strangely soothing. I found Noel irritating from the first day he appeared, and he and Sandi never seemed particularly at ease. He was even more annoying this season, constantly bugging the bakers when they were trying to concentrate. The business with the spoon was gross, and he seemed quite creepy with young Peter. Mel and Sue hit just the right notes of sympathy with the bakers and silliness. But as always I loved the bakers themselves. It must have been a pretty strange experience all being locked down together.

    1. Veronica, Noel reminds me of some schoolkids who never recognise the signs that they have overstepped the mark. The bakers were not in a position to tell him that enough's enough although it seemed to me that some of them were not comfortable with him.