I am not very fond of summer. It is hot (temperatures easily and steadily soaring above 100 F) and sticky. My breads rise in 15 minutes and looks like it will bake without the oven. I hate entering my kitchen after eight in the morning. This means I have to get up super early in the morning (that also becomes a great excuse for an afternoon siesta). But all is not bad with summer. There is always summer vacation (though not anymore) lazy afternoons perfect to read a book, the welcome air-conditioning of a darkened movie theatre, watching a flick with cold coffee in your hands and of course mangoes.
As much as I like mangoes, this post is not about mangoes. There is time enough for that. Nothing, however, announces summer to me, like a glass of cold lime juice. Sweet and tart all at the same time, it is delicious and refreshing. Garnish it with mint or blend it with a couple of strawberries or enjoy it as a mojito, it tastes great any way. The shades of yellow (sometimes green, but mostly yellow) of the lime is the colour of sunshine and the flavour bright and uplifting, almost making the heat bearable. It only seems appropriate that I welcome my summer with a lime cake.
I love this cake. It so adaptable that I have been making it so so many different ways. The original is a lemon cake. Since I cannot get hold of lemons as easily as I can limes, I usually bake a lime cake. Sometimes, it is orange. Other times I get really adventurous and throw some grapefruit zest into the mix. Basically, what I am saying is that anything citrus works. To this you can add fruit (berries work really well) or some good old poppy-seed. If you want it as a dessert you could soak the cake in a citrus syrup and for something less indulgent, but equally delicious, a simple sugar glace. You can skip it all and serve it as is, plain with a cup of tea. I have baked it in a round pan, a loaf pan and a bundt pan. Any which way you plan to do it, it tastes delicious.
When I got a request for a tea cake, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Inspired by the bright blue skies and the all-pervading yellow sun I decided to make my yellow lime cake with blueberries. I had this huge bag of dried blue berries stashed away, beckoning to be used. The fresh berries are so darn expensive (not that these dried ones were less expensive, but you could store them for a long time) so it was the dried ones for me. If you have fresh berries go ahead and use them. The cake uses yogurt (you can use store-bought or home-made) Just make sure that it is thick and creamy. This is going to make your cake moist and delicious.
I remember someone telling me that this cake was first made in France where they used the little yogurt tubs as a unit of measure. Each tub roughly measured about 125 ml. So they emptied a couple of tubs of yogurt and then used that to measure out a couple of tubs of sugar, one of oil. . . Well you get the drift. As much as I wanted to recreate that experience, I decided to go with home-made yogurt and use the weighing scale to measure my ingredients. (So much more accurate don’t you think?) The lovely citrus flavour comes from the zest (no juice in the cake). So the cake itself will have a delicate flavour of the citrus. If you want the flavour of lime to hit you between the eyes soak the cake in a lime syrup. You can then savour the tartness with every bite. I prefer the glace. You get the intensity of the lime in the white drizzle and the delicacy of the crumb in one bite. So save the juice for the syrup or the glace. That is going to give you the tartness. As I zest the limes, I breathe in the lovely fresh scent of sunshine. There is nothing quite like lime! I love the way the oils get under your skin and nails and you can continue to sniff your fingers for the rest of the day with a smile on your face.
The cake making process is rather simple. As simple as mixing all your ingredients together. That’s right, no beating, no creaming, just mixing. (didn’t I say it was simple) The cake itself is delicate and tender. The yogurt and oil does the trick. So here is my fair warning–handle the cake gently. If you are planning to soak it in syrup, place your cake on the serving platter before you pour the syrup on it. I decided to do away with the syrup (the cake is pretty moist even without it) and just go with the glace. The glace is one of my favourite parts of the cake. It has a beautiful pucker-worthy tartness and I am always trying to lick all the drips off the cake. Don’t mind the cracks on the surface of the cakes. They are the perfect craters for the glace to pool in. So when you bite into the cake you will actually get a little extra sugary lime goodness. When I made one for the person who requested for it, I also made one for myself. While I cut myself a slice of the yellow cake speckled with deep purple, I smile at the sun. I squint into the bright light and raise a toast ‘”Here’s to summers and Lime cakes!”
200 gms All-purpose flour
2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
230 gms Plain Yogurt
215 gms Sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
120 ml vegetable oil
Handful of blueberries
For The Glace
Juice of the limes which have been zested
Enough sifted icing sugar to form a thick glace.
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C
2. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together.
3. Whisk the yogurt, sugar, oil, eggs, lime zest and Vanilla extract together.
4. Toss the blueberries in a little flour and add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well blended. Do not over beat.
5. Pour into a prepared loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 180 C for about 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Place pan on a rack and cool for about 20 minutes. Remove the cake from pan and place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
7. Mix the lime juice with the icing sugar. Add enough sugar till you get a thick but pouring consistency. Spoon over the completely cooled cake and allow to drip on to the sides. Allow to set for about an hour.
8. Slice and serve to be enjoyed at any time.
So tell me, what do you like about summer? I would love to hear all about your summer escapades.