A little Sunday afternoon treat for you all. Loaf cakes are an easy alternative to a traditional layered and stacked sponges. They are quick to assemble and in my opinion have the best icing to cake ratio going. If I am honest I don’t actually like buttercream. Well I do, particularly when licked out of the bowl once I am finished or off the back of a spatula but when you actually get round to eating the cake I am a bit uninspired. I fell in love with the spiced orange buttercream I slapped on top of a gingerbread loaf, and the white chocolate and cardamom buttercream I used to layer up a pistachio cake but just vanilla? Its fine but often its used in digesting quantities on a cupcake and leaves your teeth aching. And so the loaf cake is ideal. A small spread of icing on top and a huge slap of moist sponge underneath. Joy.
You can of course omit the blueberries in this to create a simple lemon loaf. In fact you can even use a drizzle instead of icing if you want. But you can use raspberries, red currants or pomegranate seed in place of the fruit, and the juice of an orange, lime or half a blood orange in place of the lemon. Almonds can also replaced like for like with plain flour if you have an allergy. A blank canvas of a loaf.
BLUEBERRY AND LEMON MACARON LOAF
For the loaf:
250g softened butter
200g caster sugar
juice of 1 large lemon and zest of 2 (unwaxed)
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
280g plain flour
For the buttercream:
75g softened butter
150g icing sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional – it doesn’t have a strong almond flavour when used against the lemon but it does enhance the lemon’s natural sweetness)
macarons or amaretti biscuits
pansies or any edible purple flowers (borage for example)
To make the loaf cream the butter and sugar together either by hand of in an electric mixer. Add the eggs and half the flour. Beat until smooth before adding the remaining flour, baking powder, almonds, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat again until smooth. Fold in the berries evenly then pour into a 2 lb loaf tin (or two 1 lb loaf tins) and bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out the centre clean. Allow to cool. Beat the butter in a free standing electric mixer on a high speed until almost white – 3 minutes. Add the icing sugar, lemon zest and almond extract if using and beat again until ice white in colour – 5-8 minutes. Turn the mixer down and add the lemon juice a little at a tim until you have a smooth and spreadable mixture. Spread onto the cooled loaf and decorate with the macarons, flowers and blueberries. You can also add flaked almonds (toasted) if you would like.