*UPDATE: If you dip the tops of the Elizabethan cakes in Lemon Curd, they become exquisitely delicious. I can’t keep them in the house for more than a few hours!*
First of all, I’d like to thank the author over at Phantasmagorical Musings for her wonderful breakdown of the essential qualities of a Game of Thrones lemon cake. With such clear, concise standards, I were inspired to give the lemon cakes another go.
Round 2 of Battle Lemon Cakes was highly successful. Both the modern and period recipes yielded baked goods that would make top quality additions to any afternoon tea, whether in London, or King’s Landing. For a truly Game-of-Thronsian culinary experience, however, the period recipe can’t be beat.
The period recipe is Elizabethan; it results in deliciously dense lemon poppy-seed cakes with sweet lemony glaze. Although these cakes have a heavier consistency than the modern ones, they go down easily. Too easily. Don’t be shy with the lemon glaze, however, since most of the lemon flavor seems to bake out of the cakes.
The modern recipe, courtesy of Martha Stewart, produces soft sweet cakes with a consistency between pound cake and corn muffins. Mine puffed up a little more than they ought to have, so we might decrease the leavening just a bit next time.
Bottom Line: Tea drinker? Make both. Planing a premier party? The Elizabethan lemon cakes are a must.
Am I happy? Yes. Are they perfect? So very nearly. But I believed the third time would be the charm, and I was right. The winningest two lemoncake recipes are in the cookbook!
Elizabethan Lemon Cakes II
This is an original recipe, based on cake receipts from A.W.’s Book of Cookrye (1591) and The English Huswife by Gervase Markham, 1615. A round cake such as this is described in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, where it is compared to the shape of the medieval round shield, the Buckler.
Our changes: The original recipe didn’t call for lemon, which I added in. It also didn’t specify a type of seed, so I opted for the classic pairing of lemon and poppyseed. Makes ~9 lemoncakes.
- 3 Tbs. warm ale
- 2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 Tbs.)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tbs. poppy seeds
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- ~2 cups unbleached flour
- 1/8 tsp. salt
Dissolve yeast in warm ale, along with 1Tbs. of the flour mixture. Your yeast should bubble up after a few minutes, indicating that the yeast is active.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and seeds, followed by the lemon zest and juice. Gently add the yeast to this mixture, then begin to fold in the flour and salt. Use as much flour as is needed to make a smooth, thick batter. Grease your cupcake pan, and fill the cups 2/3 full. Bake in middle of oven at 350° F for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before turning onto a cake rack.
For an extra lemony kick, try topping your cakes with lemon curd!
Modern Lemon Cakes II
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
- 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
- Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lowest position, and grease your cupcake pans.
- In a small bowl (or liquid measuring cup), combine buttermilk with lemon zest and juice. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three parts alternately with the buttermilk mixture in two, beginning and ending with flour; beat just until smooth (do not overmix).
- Divide batter evenly between pans; smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, ~15 minutes (tent with foil if browning too quickly). Cool 15 minutes in pan. Turn out cakes onto a rack; cool completely before glazing.