Almond and Citrus Drizzle Cake

The girls are always asking me for lemon drizzle cake - it seems that the school makes a fabulous one for snack time.  Of course I couldn't go with a standard version, and wanted to incorporate a couple of different ideas. As well as lemons, I wanted to use blood oranges for a fuller scent load, and a pink icing.  And given my recent obsession with frangipane and nut flours, I also wanted to include a little ground almond into the cake, though I suspect you could probably swap that for polenta too.

300g butter, softened
300g caster sugar
zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
zest of 2 blood oranges
5 eggs
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g ground almonds

Sugar glaze:
juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
juice of 2 blood oranges
100g caster sugar
icing sugar

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan. Using a 2lb loaf tin, either grease and line it, or pop-in a liner.  (I made two smaller cakes)
  • Zest all of the citrus fruits, and then juice them.  Keep separately
  • Cream the butter and caster sugar together until light and doubled in volume and pale.  Add half of the zest, then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat thoroughly in between
  • Add the ground almonds, and combine
  • Add the flour, and mix until just combined
  • You want the mixture to have a soft dropping consistency, so if required add a little milk.  This may not be necessary, depending on how dry your almonds are
  • Pour into the tin(s) and bake for 50-55 minutes or so (35-40 minutes for smaller tins).  A toothpick or cake tester should come out clean, although there may be a few (almonds) crumbs stuck to the tester.
  • For the icing, mix together the caster sugar and the juice.  Warm briefly to allow the sugar to dissolve.  
  • Pour the glaze over the top of your cake, piercing it with holes if you want it to saturate the cake
  • Mix the remaining glaze with some icing sugar, to your chosen consistency, and mix in the remaining zest.  Coat or pipe or zigzag as appropriate
  • Allow to cool in the tin before turning out.

  • The mixture may look curdled - this is the impact of the zest - don't worry about it
  • I like to combine the almond before the flour, as you don't want to overwork the gluten in the flour
  • The bicarbonate of soda reacts with the acid, adding further lift to the batter.  You could use baking powder, but I used this specifically because of the acid reaction
  • I spooned the glaze on top of the cake and allowed it to soak it.  Having thoroughly saturated the cake, I mixed the remaining juice with icing sugar, until reaching a spooning consistency.  This is obviously a lot of sugar, but let's not forget I'm making this for the kids... Because I used blood orange juice, it was also pink, but that was part of my plan! If you want a more professional teatime finish, you can either use just lemon juice, or pipe it onto the cake in a more zig-zag pattern

The cake batter before baking
Spoon the cooled syrup over the cake, having pierced several holes into it
The finished article, you can see the moisture layer all around the edge of the cake

Yes it's garish and pink - if you don't want pink icing, don't use the blood
orange juice in the icing layer.  You can still use it in the syrup for flavour.