Step 1Set oven to 180 °C for fan oven or 200 for a conventional electric oven. Gas Mark 6. Roll both lemons firmly against the surface back and forth with the heel of your hand to start breaking them down so they will be easier to juice. Finely zest the lemons by running the fruit along the blade of the Microplane grater to take off the top oily zest. Don’t go too far into the skin as the white part is bitter. Set aside the zest and then juice the lemons. Pop the juice into a saucepan with the 60g caster sugar ready for the syrup.
Step 2Place the butter and sugar, vanilla and lemon zest into your mixing bowl and combine, then turn up the speed to high (or use a wooden spoon and plenty of elbow grease) and beat until the mixture is very pale, soft and fluffy and the granules of sugar have disappeared.
Step 3Add the beaten egg, about a quarter at a time. Mix this in slowly at each addition until all combined
Add the flour gradually, a quarter at a time, mixing gently on slow until the dry flour has mostly mixed in. Fold with a metal spoon if you are doing this by hand. Just take care not to mix or beat vigorously or your sponge can turn out a bit tough if you’ve over processed the gluten.
It’s now ready for the oven so place in your cupcake cases or tins as required. For cupcakes bake for around 12 mins then begin checking every few mins, for a larger cake, begin checking each half after 20 mins. Remember all ovens vary so try to get to know yours and if in doubt get an oven thermometer too to check if your oven is older. To test the cakes, look for the signs, The cakes should be a light golden brown, springy to touch and if you want to be sure test with a sharp knife or metal skewer which should come out clean and free of mixture if they are cooked through.
Once they are baked, turn them out onto a cooling rack and brush the tops of your cupcakes generously with lemon syrup while warm. For the larger cake, and brush the bottom where you have removed from the tin and taken off the paper, then turn over and skewer the tops so it can soak in to your sponges. Brush generously. It’s ideal to place the syrup in a bowl and use a pastry brush to coat the tops, try and get a silicone one to prevent rogue pastry brush hairs getting lots on to your sponges, if not you can use a squeezy bottle to squirt it on if you prefer. Leave to cool then you can decorate or store as required.
These are lovely piped with a simple lemon flavour frosting or for using as a base for a celebration cake design you wish.
Add some hand made sugar roses with piped buttercream leaves for an elegant touch, if you don’t want to make these you can order ready made roses online, or for a simpler decoration add a little more zest from a fresh lemon using a Microplane grater.