1. Use 1 x 20.5cm (8 inch) sandwich tin, buttered and floured. Line the base of the tin with parchment paper.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
3. Put the soft butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate and turn into the prepared tin – make a dip in the centre so it rises evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen.
4. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, remove and cool on a wire rack.
1. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon zest and enough lemon juice to make a softish icing.
1. Once the cake is cool, pour the icing onto the cake and spread gently over the sides with a palette knife.
2. Decorate with crystallized primroses and wood sorrel ‘shamrocks’ (below).
3. Serve on a pretty plate.
Flowers and leaves crystallized with sugar will keep for months, although they may lose their initial vibrant colour. This is what we call a high-stool job – definitely a labour of love. The end result is both beautiful and rewarding.
Flowers and leaves must be edible.
Smaller flowers are more attractive when crystallized e.g., primroses, violets, apple blossom, violas, rose petals. Use fairly strong textured leaves - e.g., mint, lemon balm, sweet cicely, wild strawberry, salad burnet or marguerite daisy leaves.
The caster sugar must be absolutely dry, one could dry it in a low oven for about 30 minutes approx.
Break up some egg white slightly in a little bowl with a fork. Using a child's paintbrush, paint the egg white very carefully over each petal and into every crevice. Pour the caster sugar over the flower with a teaspoon. Arrange the crystallized flowers carefully on silicone paper so that they retain a good shape. Leave to dry overnight in a warm, dry place such as close to an Aga, over a radiator or in an airing cupboard. When properly crystallized, these flowers will last for months, even years, provided they are kept dry. We store them in a pottery jar or a tin box with an airtight lid.