This Tuesday was the Vernal Equinox and today marks the official start of British Summer Time as the clocks sprang forward last night. It’s just a week until Easter and the year is flying by already! The weather this weekend has been glorious in Scotland, but if the sun isn’t shining with you then you could do worse than this lemon and cardamom upside down cake to bring some light to your Spring kitchen. I always make a lemon cake at this time of year during the countdown to Easter (not least because I’ve given up chocolate for lent!) and this Anna Jones lemon and cardamom upside down cake brings together two of my favourite flavours, zesty and aromatic at the same time. You can replace the eggs with 135 ml of aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas), whipped to stiff peaks, to make the cake vegan too. Tip: you will need to whisk the liquid for longer than you would think or your cake won’t rise.
5 unwaxed lemons
175g caster sugar
75g rolled oats
Seeds from 12 cardamom pods
150ml rapeseed oil
1 tsp baking powder
75g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
A pinch of salt
Plain yoghurt, whipped with vanilla extract, to serve.
Preheat your oven to 200C/ 180C Fan/ Gas 6. Grease and line a 20cm tin. Zest and juice two of the lemons and set aside. Prepare the remaining lemons for the base of the tin, slicing them finely with a sharp knife into 0.5cm rounds. Remove any visible pips.
Put 50g of the sugar into a medium saucepan with 50ml water and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes until you have a syrup, then add the lemon slices and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until they are starting to turn translucent. Carefully scoop them out of the syrup and place on baking parchment to cool until you can handle them. Reserve the syrup for later.
Blitz the oats in a food processor until you have a rough, flour-like consistency. Bash the cardamom seeds to a rough powder and beat the rapeseed oil and remaining sugar with a wooden spoon. Mix the polenta, baking powder, almonds, cardamom, vanilla, eggs, ground oats and reserved lemon juice and zest. Add a pinch of salt and mix again.
Arrange the sliced lemon on the bottom of the lined cake tin, leaving some gaps for the batter to flow into, which will allow some steam to escape. Pour the batter on top and level with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, checking at 30 minutes and covering with foil if it is browning too much on top. Check it’s cooked through by piercing the cake with a skewer. After the cake has cooled for 20 minutes, remove the tin and the parchment, then carefully upturn onto a plate. Pour any leftover syrup from the lemons over the top and serve with yoghurt, whipped with a little vanilla.
Lovely with a cuppa. This is not one for a sweet tooth as the lemon is quite punchy – you have been warned! What are you baking this weekend in the run-up to Easter?