August 11, 2022


This is the cake I made for the afternoon tea for our friend's birthday back in March.  It's on the front cover of Delia Smith's book "Baking" and I remember very clearly the first time I tasted it, many years ago.  It's  a favourite of Nick's family and his youngest sister had made it for his mum's birthday tea.  

The recipe calls for home made lemon curd.  I have made lemon curd successfully in the past but on this occasion I used a jar of Bon Maman.  The curious thing is, Bon Maman is a French product but I have never found the lemon curd for sale anywhere in France, even though I do look for it in the confiture section of every supermarket.  Other lemon curds are available but are not quite as good so this time I brought some to France from the UK with me, which did seem a bizarre thing to do.  

I wan't quite sure whether this was strictly legal.  Does the butter content of lemon curd, even shop bought, mean that it should, strictly speaking, be classed as dairy?  In which case it's no longer legal to bring it to France.  If however it's classed as jam, we're ok.  The joy of Brexit, the gift that keeps on giving and nobody has got what they voted for, whatever that was, and very few actually understand the new rules anyway.

The cake is made in two sandwich tins and each layer is then sliced into two.  This is not my favourite thing to do and gives me the collywobbles every time I even think about it.  What if I didn't make the cut evenly and the cake ended up all wonky?  Luckily on this occasion I had a sufficiently steady hand and it turned out straight, but I did need a bit of a lie down afterwards.  For that reason alone I have given it two stars in the faff factor.

It was easy to make, looked great on the tea table and tasted divine.  You can't really go wrong with a Delia Smith recipe and a cake with such a pedigree, Bon Maman product not withstanding, was bound to be a big hit.  It was lovely.


For the cake
zest of 1 lemon 
1 tblsp of lemon juice 
175g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g butter, at room temperature
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs

For the filling
a jar of good quality lemon curd, shop bought or home made

For the icing
zest of 1 lemon, removed with a zester, not a grater, so as to get long, curly strips of peel
50g icing sugar
2-3 tsp lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 170°C / 150° fan / gas mk3.  Grease two 20cm sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking paper.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, add all the other cake ingredients and beat with an electric whisk until smooth and creamy.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and level the tops.  Bake for around 35 minutes until done.  Remove to cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, first remove the peel from the lemon for the decoration.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add enough lemon juice to make a runny consistency.

When the cakes are completely cold, carefully slice each one in half using a sharp serrated knife.  Place one layer on a cake plate or stand and spread liberally with the lemon curd.

Repeat with another two layers then place the fourth layer on top.  Spread the icing on the top layer and decorate with the curly strips of lemon peel.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.

August 9, 2022


For the afternoon tea in France a few weeks ago (see here) I made some mini muffins to a recipe by Delia Smith.  I spotted the recipe in one of her older cook books, simply called "Baking", when I was actually looking for something else - the lemon curd layer cake that's on the cover (and in the next post).

I wanted some little bite sized cakes to adorn the top layer of the cake stand and these sounded perfect for the job.  I haven't found the recipe anywhere on the internet but it does seem that chocolate, prune and Armagnac (or other alcohol) is a combo that Delia is quite fond of as she has other recipes such as for a cake, mini cakes and a chocolate log.  I can't fault it - they are a match made in heaven...well probably not quite that saintly, owing to the booze!

For the icing I used Lynn Hill's recipe for a chocolate glaze which you can see here although I only made a half quantity.  In the above picture it looks a bit dull because the cakes had been in the fridge for a while, but on the day of making it looked fabulous - dark and glossy.  I decorated my muffins with halved glacé cherries, chocolate raisins and chocolate vermicelli, but you can obviously use your imagination here.  

They were very rich, boozy and chocolatey!  The prunes gave a slightly fruity hint but I doubt anyone would have identified it as prune if they didn't already know.  (Prunes do have a bad press, owing to their 1950's health food connotations !)  Each one was a perfect little morsel.

I froze the leftover muffins to enjoy later and they were just as good.

For the muffins

50g Agen prunes, stoned
55ml Armagnac
150g plain flour
2 tblsp cocoa powder
1 dessertspoon baking powder  (a dessert spoon is about ⅔ of a tablespoon)
¼ tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
40g golden caster sugar
120 ml milk
50g butter, melted and slightly cooled
50g plain chocolate drops

For the topping

100g dark chocolate, chopped
45g unsalted butter
glacé cherries, halved, chocolate raisins and chocolate vermicelli to decorate.


Chop the prunes into small chunks and soak in the Armagnac overnight or for as long as you can.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.  Put 24 mini muffin cases into a mini muffin tin.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.

In another large bowl, mix together the beaten egg, sugar, milk and melted butter.

Sift the dry ingredients (again) into the wet mixture and fold them in quickly.  Then add the chocolate drops, prunes and Armagnace and mix briefly again.

Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cases (about one heaped teaspoonful in each) and bake for 10 minutes.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing from the tin to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the topping, melt the butter and chocolate together in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Stir frequently until smooth and allow to cool slightly before using.  Spread about a teaspoonful on the top of each muffin and decorate as you like.

Makes 24 mini muffins.