Lemon Sponge Traybake


Looking for perfection in a cake is, I feel, missing the point. I got really cross with The Great British Bake Off some years ago. I was just so annoyed at the emphasis on 'sheer perfection'.

I thought it'd put people off having a go. At trying the craft of baking, maybe for the first time, because they thought they couldn't get it perfect.

Baking is, and has always been, something I do for joy. To relax and stop my head from whirling. It saved me during those dark days and months after my son was born and it allows me to show my feelings when I bake for someone.

My cakes aren't always perfect. Sometimes I think I could've mixed them better or baked them a little less.

So if you've never baked before, or never attempted a sponge cake, give this a go. It doesn't matter if it's not perfect. I mean, look at my icing in the picture. It was meant to be drizzled but turned out to be blobs.

I was going to re-bake the cake to make it picture perfect. Then I thought, no. I made the cake at that moment just because I wanted to bake. It tasted good to me.

Don't bake for perfection. Bake because it's joyous.

Lemon Sponge Traybake with Blood Orange Icing | The Recipe


For the cake

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 275g self raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Zest of two lemons
  • Juice of one lemon

For the icing

  • 4 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar, sifted
  • enough blood orange juice to make a stiff paste


  1. Pre-heat oven to 140 degrees fan.
  2. Put all the ingredients for the cake into a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until well combined.
  3. Place into a greased and lined with baking parchment tray bake tin (9 inches/24cm and at least 2 inches/5cm in depth) and bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
  4. When baked, leave in the tin to cool slightly then remove onto a wire rack.
  5. Mix the icing sugar and orange juice together in a jug.
  6. When the cake is completely cool drizzle the icing over the top. Or you could just spread it all over.
lemon traybake with blood orange icing
lemon traybake with blood orange icing