lemon cake squares
On rest days, cold days, after races, after long runs (okay let’s be honest – after short runs too) I often crave something sweet but tangy or sour at the same time. I’ve always enjoyed lemon flavoured desserts because they manage to be incredibly satisfying, even somewhat refreshing, without making me feel sluggish like I have overindulged in decadence. There is something special about the lemony citrus aromas that waft through the kitchen as this treat is prepared. These squares are moist, just the right level of tart, and absolutely divine. They make for a perfect tangy sweet-treat when the cravings set in.
1 cup whole-wheat flour *
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/4 cup almond milk *
2 tablespoons almond oil *
1/4 cup maple syrup *
1 tablespoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
100g / one small tub vanilla soy yogurt (I got mine from Woolworths)*
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
½ cup icing sugar / powdered sugar
Juice of half a lemon (freshly squeezed)
Lavender petals (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Grease a 21cm x 21cm square oven-proof dish with coconut oil.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
Pour the combined mixture into the dish and bake for approximately 22 minutes. If a cake tester (or sosatie stick) comes out clean, it’s ready!
Stir together the freshly squeezed lemon juice and maple syrup in a small jug.
After taking the dish out of the oven but before letting it cool, and using that same sosatie stick or a toothpick, poke several little holes in the cake and pour the sauce over the cake, trying to distribute it evenly.
Let it cool completely.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and the lemon juice until silky smooth and well combined. To avoid lumps, sift icing sugar before mixing it with the lemon juice.
Making sure that the cake has already cooled completely, then spread the icing onto the cake. Next, sprinkle the lemon zest (and optional lavender petals) onto the icing.
Allow the icing to set by covering the dish in plastic wrap and putting it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.
Once set, cut the cake into squares the size that your craving requires. Sometimes I make 16 small squares, other times I end up with 8 generously-portioned rectangles 😛
Did you know that adding citrus zest, in our case lemon, adds not only wonderful aroma and flavour to a dish but also nutrition?! Citrus fruit is the best of all foods at boosting DNA repair, which may offer an explanation of why citrus consumption is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer. Interestingly, certain of these citrus compounds thought to be responsible for DNA repair are found in the peel. Studies show that people who consume some citrus peel have lower rates of skin cancer than those who don’t. So now you have a better excuse for why you are treating yourself to several lemon cake squares than, “I had a craving” and you can supplement it with, “They help fight against cancer…and I had a craving”. I really hope you enjoy this treat as much as I do, check out some changes you can make to the recipe below should you choose to.
*swop whole wheat for gluten-free flour
*swop maple syrup for honey
*swop almond milk for another plant-based milk (cashew, soy, rice etc.)
*swop almond oil for mild olive oil
*swop soy yoghurt for another plant-based yogurt
NB: the sweetness of the cake is dependent on whether some of the ingredients have been sweetened or whether you use an unsweetened version. For example, the almond milk I used was home-made and unsweetened (lookout for upcoming blog post about how to make your own) but the yogurt I used was sweetened already. Feel free to make some swaps and adjustments to suit your preferences. And if you do so, please mention it in the comments section so that the rest of us can try it out!
Greger M. How not to die. 2015. London. 301-302.
Hakim IA, Harris RB, Ritenbaugh C. Citrus peel use is associated with reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Nutr Cancer. 2000; 37(2):161-8.
Song JK, Bae JM. Citrus fruit intake and breast cancer risk: a quantitative systematic review. J Breast Cancer. 2013; 16 (1): 72-6.