Rescuing a disaster in the kitchen

Lemon Custard Cake

Lemon Custard Cake

This weekend, to try and conquer my inability to make a sponge cake, I decided to try a recipe that was cut out of the Sunday Times ages ago. It was called Vanilla Sponge with Pistachios and Lemon Curd.

This cake proved problematic for me. Firstly, if you look at the ingredients – there is no vanilla of any sort involved. It’s semantics I know, and many people would consider a plain sponge to be vanilla, but still I take issue with calling something vanilla that has had no vanilla essence or real near it. Anyway it’s neither here nor there, on with the recipe. The sponge came out great, although shrank away from the sides of my non stick tin, forming awkward shape as it cooled. Does anyone know why that could be?

The main problem came with the curd. I have written the recipe below as it appeared in the paper. You will see that you just combine the lemon, condensed milk and egg yolks to create this curd, and it somehow thickens. Well, mine didn’t. I had eggy lemon soup and, ten minutes till the guests arrived for tea. The only thing I could think off to salvage the situation was to cook the curd in a bowl over boiling water. This is what I did and I created a thick, if eggy curd that was a useable consistency. It wasn’t great curd but it was useable.

So was it me or just the recipe?  Maybe my lemon was too big (I feel that recipes need to measure how much juice, lemons vary in how much they yield and can drastically change results!) and there was too much juice? I only used 1 x 370g tin of condensed milk, which should have been equivalent, so I think the recipe is flawed. Next time, I’ll make my own curd. If you feel like taking a risk, try it and let me know if you have any success, but I’d keep a jar of good bough curd on standby!


For the sponge:

170g castor sugar

4 eggs separated

60g cake flour

60g corn flour

10ml cream of tartar

5ml bi carb

30ml hot milk

For the lemon curd:

2 x 187g tins of condensed milk

6 egg yolks

Juice and zest of two lemons

250 ml pistachio nuts


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a round, 22cm cake tin. Beat the castor sugar and the egg yolks until pale and creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites till they are light and fluffy.

Sift all the dry ingredients four times and then fold into the creamed egg yolk mixture. Add the hot milk. Lastly fold in the egg whites. Transfer into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For the curd:

Empty the condensed milk into a bowl, add the egg yolks and whisk until well mixed. Add the lemon zest and juice. Leave to stand until it begins to set.

My Version: cook all ingredients in a metal bowl over boil water, whisking frantically till a nice thick curd forms!

Cut the cooled cake into layers and spoon on the lemon curd, sandwich together. Sprinkle the top with pistachios and dried cranberries.


About michoenglish87

A wannabe foodie who loves trying new recipes and trying new ingredients. I hope to inspire people to try new things in the kitchen.
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5 Responses to Rescuing a disaster in the kitchen

  1. It is always so disappointing when a recipe doesn’t work out they way it should – nicely rescued though. I too agree that a vanilla cake should have vanilla in it and I usually double the quantity of vanilla called for.
    It’s very strange that your curd did not set – I use a similar recipe for my lemon meringue pie and use a 397g tin condensed milk, 2 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of lemon juice and it sets beautifully – maybe it had something to do with your quantities or over mixing?
    🙂 Mandy

    • Thanks for the recipe, maybe it was a case of too many egg yolks. Sorry It took so long to reply – I’ve been swamped at work recently. Any tips and comments much appreciated. I’ll try and be better at responding!

  2. Tandy says:

    I will post a curd recipe this week 🙂

  3. I am paying the love forward and awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award and if you like, you can pay it forward too.
    🙂 Mandy

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