Lemon cake

A beautifully balanced cake to reward the first week back to work

Whatever set of New Year’s beliefs you buy into, there aren’t many people thrilled at the prospect of two more months of winter. No one’s whistling while they disentangle gordian knots of fairy lights or rocking around the denuded Christmas tree. No one’s much in the market for anything too indulgent, even if they aren’t doing dry Veganuary. We all want to forget about the figgy pudding. Yet to get to the end of the week without some reward for the herculean task of returning to daily life seems almost unreasonably cruel.

Cue Ion Patisserie’s lemon cake: a light, fluffy, sharply-sweet number whose size and stodgelessness renders it well suited to the first Friday of January. Boasting free range eggs and carefully sourced English butter, what it lacks in veganism it more than makes up for in ethical values. “We buy the lemons from our friend in the Market, Jock Stark,” explains Cornel of Ion. “In his selection of quality fruits and veg we found the best, large lemons we needed. Apart from this lovely Mediterranean fruit everything else we use is 100 per cent British”—and sourced locally.

Banoffee paella and rainbow burgers
In this age of sophistication—of banoffee paella, cronuts and rainbow burgers—it is a blessing, Cornell continues, to still bake and eat such a simple food. “Simple means basic, natural ingredients like flour, eggs, butter and sugar. When you add the lemon zest and juice you get the lemon stamp on a cake: neither rich nor sweet, just subtly sour and aromatic.” It’s this distinctive, piquant taste and the evocative summer smell of lemons that make them such a glorious addition to drinks and food. “We didn’t have to think much to find our inspiration for this cake,” she smiles. Humans have been baking with lemons for centuries, and will doubtless continue to do so—if only to remind each other on dark, cold days that warmth and sunshine will return soon.