May Seasonal Ingredient- Lemon & Cucumber Cake

I told you I had something a little different! If you loved the cucumber dressing on those “chicken” kebabs from the last post, then I know you’ll just love this summer flavoured cake that's a little like eating a virgin gin and tonic! I also thought using cucumber in a sponge sounded a bit weird but we’ve used plenty of other vegetables in cakes on the blog so you can’t really be surprised, the grated cucumber didn't make the sponge soggy and although it’s a very subtle flavour, it pairs really well with the acidic lemon to create a refreshing and light cake that’s perfect for summer picnics in the garden! 

Serves 6-8 

200g Caster Sugar 
200g Butter, softened
200g Self-Raising Flour (if using plain flour, add 1 tsp of extra baking powder for every 100g grams of plain flour) 
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract  
4 Eggs 
2 tbsp Milk 
1 tsp Baking Powder 
Zest and Juice of 1 lemon 
1/2- 1 Whole Cucumber 

For the filling 

140g Butter, softened 
280g Icing Sugar 
2 tbsp Milk 
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract 
Half a jar of Strawberry Jam 

Preheat the oven to 180 C/160 Fan/ Gas Mark 4 and add all your cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl. With the cucumber, run a knife down the middle to cut out the seeds and then finely grate the cucumber into the bowl. 

Keep mixing until your batter has no lumps, taste a small amount and see if you need to add any more cucumber, I found that the cucumber taste cooked out a bit in the oven so it might be best to add a bit more than you think you’ll need just to boost the flavour in case it does cook out. 

Grease 2 sandwich tins and pour the batter evenly between them, give the tins a slight wobble just to settle the batter before transferring them to the oven for 25-30 mins until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. 

Once your cakes have cooked, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool in the tins for about 15 mins before removing from the tins and leaving them to cool completely on a wire rack. 
Whilst the cakes cool we can make our buttercream icing! 
In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract with a hand whisk until you get a smooth and creamy icing, if it’s too runny just let it firm up in the fridge for 10 mins and if it’s too thick add a couple of tbsp of hot water then whisk again.
Using a knife or palette knife, smooth the icing over the top of one sponge, try to use all the icing as we want a lot of delicious filling between those sponges. 

Spoon your jam over the top of the buttercream and gently press the second sponge on top and you’re ready to dive in!

I think that’s a bit of a weird picture but I wanted you to see the jam and buttercream between the sponges in a clearer way than just cutting a slice. 
As I said before, I know the taste of the sponge could have been better as some of the cucumber flavour cooked out but nevertheless it was a tasty lemon sponge! These sponge cakes are so quick and simple to make and because of that you can experiment with adding any type of ingredient into the sponge or filling to really propel this past a simple sponge, I would really like to try this recipe again adding in more cucumber and just hoping it doesn’t cook out!
I know these sweet recipes aren’t always a success with the seasonal ingredients especially because I really like to try unusual ingredients to see if they’ll work, sometimes like this one I find an interesting flavour combo that is not only tasty but it’s something I want to perfect and make again, and other times…I just try and forget I ever thought of the idea in the first place. 
But thankfully, this was not one of those times, if you want to try making a light and refreshing cake that will surprise your loved ones then look no further than this lemon & cucumber sponge. 

H x