Tamal Ray’s recipe for a Mother’s Day lemon cake

My mum gave me a great gift: my love of food. I remember how her eyes would light up as she imagined the dishes she’d prepare for a family feast. I’d watch her tinkering at the stove, her face fixed with care and attention as she added a dash of this, a hint of that. I would thumb through her collection of cookery books during long summer holidays, reading about decorating cakes and making the perfect Sunday roast. This Mother’s Day, it’s my turn to bake her a cake.

Mother’s Day lemon cake

The recipe for this cake is one that I’ve imagined, researched and tinkered with, just as Mum showed me how. You’ll need two 24cm round baking trays. Enjoy with a cup of tea.

Prep 45 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 8-10

For the lemon buttercream
4 large eggs
Juice of 4 lemons
500g caster sugar
500g unsalted butter, softened
Gel food colouring (optional)

For the cake
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
4 large eggs
200g plain flour
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Start by making the buttercream. Crack the eggs into a small saucepan with the lemon juice and sugar, and set over a low-medium heat. Stir with a balloon whisk for five to eight minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. Turn down the heat, to stop it from boiling, continue stirring for another couple of minutes, then set aside to cool completely.

Once cool, beat in the butter until you have a smooth buttercream, then transfer to a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.

To make the cake, line the bases of two 24cm, round baking tins with greaseproof paper and grease the sides with a little butter.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon zest, then the eggs, flour, lemon juice and bicarb, then divide the mixture between the tins. Bake at 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4 for 12-14 minutes, until the cakes have risen, the tops are toasted golden and have just started to come away from the sides. Leave to cool.

Add the food colouring (if using) to some of the buttercream – you will use this to paint the top of the cake later. To assemble, spread a layer of buttercream over the top of one of the cakes, then put the other cake on it. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream and paint on the coloured icing (if using) to create a colour contrast.

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