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This Lemon Sherbet Cake recipe is compliments of John Whaite, the winner of the Great British Bake Off 2012, and can be found in the John Whaite Bakes book published by Headline.
John will be appearing at the Cake and Bake Show in London 2-4 October 2015, alongside fellow Great British Bake Off winner, Jo Wheatley and cooking stars, Rosemary Shrager, Gregg Wallace, Eric Lanlard, Phil Vickery, Lisa Faulkner, Aaron Craze, Brendan Lynch and Wendi Peters. Jo and the baking stars will also be appearing at the Cake and Bake Shows in Edinburgh in October and Manchester in November. For more information and ticket details, visit
The word ‘sherbet’ evokes memories of youth, but, ironically, I disliked sherbet as a child – I was a kid who needed a more toothsome, chewy sort of jelly sweet. This cake is perfect for baking with children, because the cake batter uses a ‘one mix’ method, so there is no need to go through the stages of making a cake, which can sometimes tire fickle little kids. And though it’s a simple cake to make, with a simple filling, the presentation takes it up a notch. This cake is a nod to all things youthful, but it is also absolutely acceptable at a sophisticated, child-free gathering.
Ingredients – serves 10/12
For the candied lemon topping
- 2 lemons
- 600ml (2 1/2 Cups) water (in batches of 200ml (3/4 Cup)
- 100g (6 tps) sugar
- 100ml (1/4 Cup) water
- 75g (1/3 Cup) golden caster sugar
For the cake
- Zest of 3 lemons
- 4 eggs
- 225g (1 1/8 Cups) golden caster sugar
- 225g (1 1/8 Cups) stork or margarine
- 225g (1 1/8 Cups) self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the filling
- 400ml (1 2/3 Cups) whipping cream
- 500g (1 1/4 Cups) mascarpone cheese
- 300g (1 1/3 Cups) icing sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 packets of lemon Dip Dabs (special candy, sherbet only)
- Icing sugar, to dust
- Two 20cm/8-inch loose- bottomed round cake tins, greased and lined with baking paper
- Cake stand at least 20cm/ 8 inches across
- Disposable piping bag fitted with 12mm nozzle
For the lemon topping, use a potato peeler to pare thick strips of peel from the lemons – if you get any white pith, scrape it off with a knife. Chop the lemon peel into thin matchsticks, then place in a small saucepan with 200ml water. Bring to the boil, then drain the water, place the lemon zest back into the pan with another 200ml water and repeat. Drain again then repeat – you should bring the lemon zest to the boil 3 times in total. Set the drained lemon zest matchsticks aside. Place the 100g sugar and 100ml water in the saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar is dissolved, then return the lemon zest and allow to poach for about 5 minutes. Drain. Place the 75g caster sugar in a bowl and add the lemon matchsticks. Toss in the sugar then arrange on a baking sheet and allow to dry out for a few hours (overnight is better).
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4.
Place the ingredients for the cake into a mixing bowl and beat together until well incorporated and smooth. If you have a freestanding electric mixer, use the paddle attachment. Divide the batter between the two prepared tins, and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, before removing from the tins and turning on to a cooling rack until completely cold.
Meanwhile, make the filling by whipping the cream to very soft floppy peaks. Fold this into the mascarpone along with the sifted icing sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Then quickly beat in the lemon juice – though don’t overbeat, as you don’t want the mixture to split.
When the cake is cooled, and the candied lemon is dry, slice each cake in half horizontally so that you have four layers. Place one on the cake stand. Fill the piping bag with the filling and pipe little blobs around the edge of the cake, then a spiral of filling in the centre. Sprinkle over a third of the sherbet, then top with another slice of cake. Repeat this until you have four layers of cake and three layers of cream and sherbet. Sift a layer of icing sugar over the top, then scatter over the candied lemon matchsticks.