Wednesday, 5 March 2014

59. A Recipe for Lemon Drizzle Cake

for Jeff Hilson, who asked for the recipe several years ago at the Sunday at the Oto poetry & music performances at Café Oto, Dalston, and for all the regulars who may have ate it there

– And why do we act?
nothing strange, but fear & desire
to put food in our mouths or
because we accustom to act so and
just carry on or to fix a marker
even though that will vanish; or
to establish companionship in our voyaging together
- sometimes something like that

Anyway let’s not worry about such origins
- here is the cake I made for the Oto events
and you asked for the recipe & here it is then at last:

Seen in clarity these we need to set up:
           225 g self-raising flour
           225 g butter (not straight from the fridge!)
           4 medium eggs
           325 g fairtrade caster sugar
           (to tell all – as 225 + 100 g)
           and 1 good, juicy lemon
                 (like a jewelled & golden head of guiltless pleasure)

The tin you need is a smallish loaf tin
7 or 8 cm x >20 for a good shape
which you will line with buttered baking paper
leaving at the long ends little lengths to pull it out complete
(a simple trick that will give you mastery over this tin)
then set the oven’s heat purely at gas mark 4
                                   180 or 160°

Grate off the peel or zest from your lemon & gather it
cream with a fork the butter & its weight of sugar
until pale & creamy as clear yellow sky underneath cloud
then mix in the eggs gently one by one adding
finally the lemon peel and then the slow soft spurt of sifted flour
mixing it into all one fresh golden world, glowing
as if with the warm creative light of a star in heaven

At the tin, spoon in this viscous mess
smooth it at the top to resist the gusts of heat
let them gently blow in & raise it up
like a race of heroes building this new city

You choose now to place it in the centre of the oven
where it coheres & articulates itself, raises up as I said
a rugged crust of beginning complexity – but cover
w/ foil or paper if it looks like spoiling – check
its insides with a long skewer until done
40 minutes, 45 – these things depend on the precision of your oven
and the singularity of the newly established cake

We can now take out the cake & let it stand a little
these are desperate times but not so bad yet
we can’t eat our cake and enjoy it occasionally
                                                - so
squeeze the juice out of the two halves of your lemon
not till you hear the pips squeak
                                  - save that
for all our rulers one day soon we hope & plan – but
so all the expressed juice drips into the remaining sugar
blend it in
            - then pierce the cake with your skewer repeatedly
its top anyway should be raised up like roughened bark
beginning to split as if with cancer
                              - which is the wild excess of life after all

Pour over this mush as if it were the cure
and the sharp discrete liquor will infuse
& the sugar mash crust into a healthy scab
this mulch slowly acquiring its nature
let it rest & cool, to join our common world

Then raise it by the ends of the paper, cut, & eat
or wash the tin, dry, and replace a long strip of paper lengthwise
& you can transport or keep the cake in its tin somehow as I did
taking it to enliven whatever joint free enterprise you wish
- good luck & appetite!

[This recipe is from BBC Good Food - & therefore belonging to a common shared enterprise. I have heightened the lemon! Sicilian lemons would be best. This cake goes well with music & poetry, as you know.]

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