Today was a sunshiny lemony sort of day, you know, one of those pleasant days filled with happy events even though it’s practically rained for all of it. It started with me tumbling out of bed too early, forgetting about having a Saturday lie-in, and deciding to (lemon)squeeze in a 3-mile run on the treadmill. Quick shower later, I ran to catch the bus to NYC to meet a dear friend, one of the bright sparks of our 3.5-year sojourn in Toronto. Despite the gray skies, the view of the NYC skyline put a smile on my face. However many times I see it, like an idiotic tourist, I am wowed.

Meanwhile, my husband and two boys hit the neighbourhood bookstore (takes us 30 seconds to get there on foot), where, would you believe it, Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, is doing a reading. Him Indoors was clearly more excited than the boys as he regaled to me later how Julia asked him to play fox to her mouse in a mini dramatization of her book. Meanwhile, I had coffee, cake and chat with good old Corinne, as the boys and hubby traipsed off to meet Buzz Aldrin at Books of Wonder on West 18th St. I met them there and decided against popping in to say hello to the Nasa hero, who has been more Fuzz Aldrin lately (as in lost in space). I prefer to remember him as he was in his heyday.

Back at the ranch and still abuzz from the day’s events, I brew a pot of tea and feel the need to bake. It has to be a loaf cake, and has to be lemony. I decide to add pizazz to a basic loaf cake recipe with lemon zest, juice, curd and candied peel. It was tempting to add poppy seeds but that will have to wait for another time as I couldn’t recall when I’d bought the packet I found in my larder. Nothing worse than adding ingredients of dubious date-of-origin (no expiry date to boot) to an otherwise sunshiny cake with fresh ingredients.

At this stage (pre-baking), the plan is to top it off with a lemon-infused cream cheese and whipped cream frosting, lightly sweetened, over a layer of lemon curd – will decide later (it might only need a dusting of icing sugar) as one doesn’t want to gild the lily.

Okay, this is 50 minutes later, the cake looks amazing! I will allow it to cool and go for the curd and cream frosting. We had it after dinner and it was so moist, warm and lemony, with a lovely crunch on top, where I’d sprinkled some caster sugar before baking. I thought the children would find it too citrusy but no, they wanted seconds. And thirds (denied). Perfect end to a perfect day.

  • eggs, 3, large,
  • butter, 2 sticks
  • sugar, just under a cup
  • baking flour, 2 cups
  • baking powder, 1 tsp
  • lemon, zest and juice of
  • lemon curd, a few tablespoons
  • candied lemon peel

  1. Preheat oven to 360F, 170C
  2. Cream the butter and sugar till white and fluffy
  3. Add the lemon zest and eggs, beat further
  4. Slowly add, in alternating tablespoonfuls, the flour (earlier sieved with baking powder) and lemon juice, till well combined
  5. Stir in some candied lemon peel
  6. Pour half the mixture into your loaf tin
  7. Spoon some lemon curd over, then add the other half of the cake batter
  8. Bake for 50 minutes or till skewer comes out clean
  9. Top off as you wish – with frosting, lemon curd or powdered sugar
  10. To make cream frosting, pour some whipping cream into a bowl, whip till stiff, add two tablespoonfuls of cream cheese and more lemon zest and a dash of sugar. Pour onto curd.

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