It’s cold, rainy and just fairly grim in Birmingham this week. Yesterday was the so called Blue Monday, where it seemed socially acceptable to be depressed and notice the lesser points of life.
This so called day only first appeared in our lives in 2005, brought around by a holiday company – yes the weather is always bad, generally we all have a bit less money after Christmas and all the hype to keep up with New Year’s Resolutins and ‘be a new you’ is a bit suffocating, but do we need to focus on it?
Perhaps we need to be a bit kinder to ourselves and take fewer cues from social media.
Yes we need to stay fit and active, excerising brings around huge benefits to the body and mind with endorphins and self confidence, not to mention pride in achieving those personal goals (I know everytime I run up that Wolverhampton Road I give myself a mental hi-five) and of course healthy eating is the best way forward.
Eating sensibly, less sugar, friendly fat, a rainbow plate, all the things we read about in our food magazines and are bombarded with in the news, we should do, but we also need to enjoy ourselves, relax, have fun, take time out for ourselves and do something for ‘you’. Be it curling up on the sofa with a Gin and Tonic and your new book for half an hour, meditating, walking the dog, playing Fifa on the playstation, every day needs some time for you.
For me, I love getting lost in myself and time whilst at home in my kitchen. Preferably baking. I find it immensely therapeutic and it’s rewarding – turning those humble ingredients into a light and springy sponge, tinged yellow with a delicious mouthwatering tang. Yes, yesterday it was a Lemon Drizzle, that humble English stalwart of a cake, a family favourite (the Twin loves it), the bakes last night are something towards a thank you for Marc’s family.
It’s not a complicated recipe, I actually like to use the all in one method here, quick, easy and satisfying. I’m not pretending this is ground baking news in the cake world, but it’s one you can get the children to make and not panic whether it’s going to work or not. Cooking is for everyone remember, you don’t have to be on the Bake Off…
The recipe, adapted from Mary Berry
For the cake -
6oz self raising flour
6oz caster sugar
6oz butter (at room temperature)
1 tsp baking powder
finely grated zest 1 ½ lemons
For the drizzle -
juice 2 lemons
You will need -
1 loaf tin, lined
Preheat oven to 180C fan
Place all of the ingredients except for the lemon zest in a large mixing bowl and using an electric whisk, beat until combined. You just want to make sure you don’t have any lumps of butter, but don’t over mix and you might make a slightly heavier cake. If you have a Kitchen Aid or Kenwood this makes the process even quicker!
I don’t add the lemon zest at this point because I find it can stick to the mixers and you lose half of it, frustrating. So I lightly stir it in once the ingredients are combined.
Spoon the cake mix into the lined loaf tin and bake on the middle shelf for 30 minutes. The cake will be springy to touch, shrinking back slightly from the lining paper and be lightly golden.
Whilst the cake is baking, prepare the drizzle. Combine the lemon juice and caster sugar in a small pan and over a low heat, dissolve the sugar into the juice.
When the cake is cooked, I like to pour the drizzle on straight away so the sponge soaks up as much of the lemony goodness as possible. Perfect as it is or you can finish with a little sprinkling of granulated sugar or a lovely drizzle of icing!
I don't think I need to say how long this cake can keep for, it will disappear before you've had time to count the slices.
If you like to escape in the kitchen and find comfort on these wintery Birmingham days in your cooking we'd love to hear what you're making and baking!