Lemons Drizzle is the nations favourite cake, but how did it come about and where are lemons from?

Lemon cake, from drizzle to lemon sponges

Lemon Drizzle consistently ranks as the nations favourite cake, A survey of 2000 adults attests to this. Made by drizzling sponges fresh from the oven with lemon juice or syrup, this sweet and zesty infusion gives the lemon drizzle it’s irresistible, tangy, moist sponge.  

The exact origin of the cake is unclear, the first recipe in Britain is attributed to Evelyn Rose. Published in the Jewish Chronicle in 1967. It was to become one of her signature recipes and she titled it it ‘Luscious Lemon Cake’  

There is very little history of the cake beyond that. However, it has appeared in old Irish cookery books and through anecdotal evidence, it is believed to have been popular at weekend fishing and hunting parties. While lemon drizzle is thought to be a relatively recent creation, lemon sponges have been popular for some time. 

Lemon has been a popular ingredient to flavour cakes since the 1700’s. Again, the ubiquitous of the ingredient makes pinning it down to a single recipe is hard. As most popular cakes today are, it is widely believed to be based upon the traditional pound cake. A recipe published in London in 1817 by Thomas Kelly calls for ‘a little lemon-peel shred fine’ to be included in the cake batter.’

Lemons would have been familiar to much of the British public for some time. Lemon is used as an ingredient in several British cookbooks for working class published in the 17th century. Analysis of Mrs Beeton’s Shilling Cookery Book, published in 1864 has revealed that out of 608 recipes, lemon was used in 6.9% of them. Inferring that lemons have been a familiar item in British kitchens.

Our Lemon and Almond cake is made with Gluten-Free ingredients.

Lemons in history

The familiarity of lemons and other citrus fruits would have been due to their extended shelf life when compared with other fruits, which would spoil easily. Britain has been able to import many food goods thanks to it’s industrialised economy and vast trade links with the Empire. However, the trade of lemons was dominated by Southern Europe. Where the fruit has grown in abundance since the early 2nd Century.

Since they begun being mass imported from the Azores in 1494. Lemons have found many uses within Britain, from preserves, marmalades, cakes, drinks, and even the defeat of the French Navy during the Napoleonic wars. Thanks the worlds first documented, randomised clinical trial.

In 1747 James Lind, a surgeons mate in the Royal Navy took 12 men suffering from symptoms of scurvy and divided them into equal pairs. Each was given a previously suggested remedy for scurvy. These remedies ranged from; half a pint of sea water a day, two spoonful’s of vinegar, and crucially, two oranges and a lemon a day. When the juice of citrus fruits was identified as a cure to scurvy, they were to be rationed in with the supplies of every ship in the Royal Nav. Leading to sailors in the Royal Navy the gaining the nickname limeys.

Lemons have played an important role throughout human history. They, along with other citrus fruits, are some of the earliest fruits to have been cultivated by humankind. While the exact origin of the lemon is unknown, a genetic study has found that they are a hybrid between a citron, and a bitter orange.

All popular citrus fruits; lemons, oranges and limes are derived from the cultivation of several species of naturally occurring citrus trees. These ancestral citrus trees originated in the southern base of the Himalayan region.

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