This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Lemon and Chocolate Cake

I had several tired-looking lemons in the fruit bowl, so I abandoned my plan to make a chocolate and orange cake and made these instead.   A kind of lemon drizzle cake with a thick layer of chocolate icing on the top.   The sharp lemon worked to balance the richness of the chocolate, it was definitely moreish.

I am still knee deep in my lovely old recipe books, immersing myself in reading about the cooks of old, so I would love to be able to say that this recipe is from one of my old books...

...but no, I found the recipe in Josceline Dimbleby's Complete Cookbook from 1997.

Chocolate-topped Sharp Lemon Cake

175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
finely grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
1 rounded tsp baking powder
pinch salt
175g self raising flour
3-4 tbsp milk

Preheat ove to 180C/350F/ gas mark 4.   Prepare a 19-20cm square tin with parchment.

Cream the butter and caster sugar, beat until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly.  Add the grated lemon rind.  Sift the baking powder and salt with the flour and fold into the mixture.  Stir in enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency.   Spoon into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 45 minutes, until springy in the middle.

Remove from the tin, prick all over with a skewer.  Dissolve the granulated sugar and the strained lemon juice in a pan, bring to the boil for 30 seconds.   Pour the hot syrup all over the cake, slowly.  Leave until cold.

100g dark chocolate
25g butter

Melt the chocolate, add the butter and stir until melted together.  Cool slightly.  Then pour it onto the top of the cake and spread it around.    When the chocolate has set, cut into small squares with a sharp knife.

I added a little finely shredded candied lemon peel, just because I love the colour contrast.   So there you have it.   Quite a sharp lemon cake with a chocolate topping.   Very nice it was, too.

I'm still not convinced that orange and chocolate wouldn't have been even nicer.   Next time, perhaps.

I managed to get my hands on some fresh yeast today.   I don't have a problem with using the dried stuff, but every now and then it is nice to use the really old fashioned methods again, so once more I shall be using my mother's old recipe for bread.

Somehow it never matches up to the magnificent rolls and loaves which she used to make - or is that simply a trick of the memory?       No, her bread really was wonderful.


  1. That looks wonderful..i may try this

    1. Hello Sara, the dark chocolate topping was nice - but the white chocolate one worked so much better - the grandchildren (and my husband) devoured it very quickly.

    2. OOh i may have to do both then..it will get eaten in this house