Sally Abé’s Lemonade Cake


When life gives you lemons, make a lemonade layer cake. Created by Sally Abé, former sous chef at two-Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury and current technical Food Editor of Great British Chefsthis zesty creation uses layers of mouth-watering lemonade syrup-soaked sponge with a spectacular lemon sherbet icing. Bright and bold, it’s perfect for an afternoon tea centrepiece.

For the candied lemons:
200g of sugar
200ml of water
1 lemon

For the lemon sponge:
300g of caster sugar
400g of butter
5 free-range eggs
300g of self-raising flour
3 lemons, zest only

For the lemonade syrup:
400ml of lemonade
1 lemon, juice only
50g of caster sugar

For the icing:
350g of butter, softened
700g of icing sugar, sifted
45g of lemon sherbet, (or 2 packets of Dip Dabs)
2 lemons, juice only
1 tsp yellow food colouring

To serve:
Edible flowers

1 Begin by making the candied lemon. Place the sugar and water in a wide-based pan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, cut the lemon into 4mm thick slices
2 When the sugar syrup has been boiling for 1 minute, add the lemon slices and gently simmer until the rind becomes translucent – this will take 10–15 minutes
3 Remove the lemons from the syrup and lay onto a tray lined with baking paper. Leave to air dry for at least a couple of hours until the slices are no longer sticky to the touch
4 Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Grease three 20cm sandwich tins
To make the sponge, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Add the egg a little at a time until fully incorporated, then fold through the flour in 2 stages
6 Divide between the tins and bake for 20–25 minutes or when a metal skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean
7 While the cakes are baking, make the lemonade syrup. Place the lemonade, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce until you are left with 100ml of liquid
8 Turn the cakes onto a wire rack and while still warm, drizzle over the lemonade syrup. Leave to cool completely
9 To make the buttercream, whip the butter in a standing mixer or with an electric whisk until it starts to turn white
10 Mix the icing sugar with the lemon sherbet and add gradually to the butter – don’t be tempted to add too much at once or you will be left with a white kitchen!
11 Once all of the icing sugar is mixed in, let the buttercream down with enough lemon juice to give it a pipe-able consistency and transfer to a piping bag
12 If the cakes are slightly dome-shaped on the top, trim them slightly to make them level
13 Line an icing turntable with baking paper so that you can move the cake later on. Place 1 layer of cake on the turntable and pipe over a layer of icing about 1cm thick. Repeat with the next sponge and top with the third
14 Pipe a thin layer of icing around the sides and on top of the cake and smooth it off. This process ensures you don’t end up with any crumbs when you do the final icin
15 Next, pipe the icing around the cake, piping with one hand and gently moving the turntable with the other until you get to the top
16 Holding a palette knife or pastry side-scraper against the side of the cake, slowly drag it around to smooth the icing off and remove any excess. You may need to do this 2 or 3 times to get a smooth finish
17 Do the same thing on the top of the cake and smooth off the edges
18 Drag a teaspoon from the bottom to the top of the cake to create a ridged effect all the way around
19 Top with the candied lemon slices and decorate with edible flowers

Recipe courtesy of Sally Abé for

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