Having been glued to the screen the last few months watching MasterChef Australia, I’m not sure if I should be relieved or depressed that the show is now finished. What am I going to do with all of this time now?? It is strange that, whenever I become engrossed in a TV cooking show, I spend more time on the sofa than actually in the kitchen. Most of the time, I am simply in awe of what these so-called ordinary, amateur cooks are getting up to in their Mystery Boxes and Invention Tests. And the Team Challenges, not to mention the amazing trips to exotic, foodie destinations overseas, seem like a lot of fun.
I have to admit that, whilst I am usually only inspired by a few dishes which the contestants cook, I am usually more impressed by the ingredients that they are working with. If I am ever to tinker with the idea of applying to go on MasterChef (which is very highly unlikely), I think I need to start filleting my own fish, cooking with beef short ribs, learn how to use (and invest in) a Thermomix, make my own pasta more regularly, memorise a few hundred dishes …
One dish which recently got my tastebuds watering was Julia’s lemon syrup cake. When she first made the cake, she clearly had issues with the other contestants opening and closing the oven which prevented her cake from cooking through properly. She ultimately presented to the judges a cake which had severely sunk in the centre and proclaimed that “It’s meant to be that way”, suggesting that the cake was supposed to be raw in the centre, somewhat pudding-like. The judges bought her explanation and actually enjoyed her undercooked cake. Whilst I am sure many viewers, like me, laughed out loud at the screen, you had to give it to her for her fighting spirit.
The second time Julia made the cake was in the finals week when the contestants’ partners made an appearance and requested a special dish, with Julia’s husband requesting her lemon syrup cake. This time around, there was no talk of a gooey centre and her cakes were lovely and well-risen in the centre. They looked so good, in fact, that I almost immediately went to the kitchen to see if I had all of the ingredients to recreate the same cake.
This recipe is not Julia’s, although I would be curious to try her recipe. I haven’t seen it published anywhere yet so hopefully it will be featured somewhere soon.
This Lemon Syrup Loaf Cake comes from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, a baking bible which I have been proudly cooking from for over 10 years. Some of the recipes are so good that I have made them over and over repeatedly to the detriment of trying out new recipes. But I was happy to have had a greedy excuse to try this Lemon Syrup Loaf Cake.
The cake itself is very simple to put together and stays deliciously moist from the syrup which soaks into the cake. And due to the lovely moistness of this cake, it keeps for quite some time, staying fresh for even up to a week. (I think hubby was on a self-imposed diet which meant I was the only one tucking into this cake for morning tea each day.) I actually think the cake tastes best after a few days once the syrup has had time to do its work.
And if I were to make this cake again (which is very likely), I think I would reduce the amount of icing sugar in the syrup next time; I found the syrup to be a little too sweet for my liking and would prefer something a bit more tart. Or, as Nigella suggests, I might try a version with limes or even grapefruit next time.