This delicate sponge, moistened with a tart lemon syrup, must be the all-time family favourite, and the star of a thousand coffee-morning cake stalls. Perfect for a coronation tea. If you have any left over, it will keep moist refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week and can be frozen for up to three months.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Brush a 2lb loaf tin (25 x 10cm) with oil and line the bottom with baking paper — this is important.
Put the eggs and the sugar in a mixer or food processor and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the sides down once with a rubber spatula.
Remove the lid and add the fat a spoonful at a time together with the lemon zest, then pulse until it disappears. The mixture should now look like mayonnaise.
Add the milk, flour and salt and mix until creamy — scrape the sides down if necessary. (To mix by hand, put all the cake ingredients in a bowl and beat with electric beaters of or wooden spoon until smooth.)
With either method: turn the batter into the prepared cake tin and smooth level. Bake for 45 minutes until the top is golden and springy.
Place the cake, still in its tin, on a cooling rack.
Gently heat the sugar and lemon juice until a clear syrup is formed.
Prick the warm cake all over with a fork, then gently pour the syrup over it, spooning it from the sides until it has been completely absorbed.
Leave until the cake is cold, then carefully turn out on a serving plate.
Recipe adapted from ‘Mother and Daughter Jewish Cooking’ by Evelyn Rose and Judi Rose (William Morrow & Co)