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How to make Jane Asher's Soaked Lemon Cake

With a wicked glint in her eyes, Jane Asher is recalling a recipe from her first baking book.

The novelty cake, made for a friend's 40th birthday, was adorned with 40 naked ladies made of flesh-coloured icing, "because he was a bit of a ladies' man".

Cookery queen Jane Asher
Cookery queen Jane Asher

The naughty concoction, from the 1982 book Jane Asher's Party Cakes, is still a popular order at the actress and writer's cake shop in Chelsea, West London.

"I mean sex and food - you can't get better than that," says the red-headed star.

"And now, of course, we do every combination - men, women, different nationalities, bondage. My initial one looks so innocent now, these misshapen little ladies."

All this talk of nudity and bondage comes as a bit of surprise, given Jane's wholesome image.

But as the 68-year-old, who began acting aged five (in the 1952 film Mandy) and had a high-profile romance with Beatle Paul McCartney in the Sixties, points out: "I've been around for so long, there isn't much I haven't seen.

Jane Asher at the launch of her bakeware range for Poundland
Jane Asher at the launch of her bakeware range for Poundland

"An image will float to the surface, it will never be what you're like, of course," she adds of her clean-cut reputation. "But you could do a lot worse."

jane's cake business began as a hobby when her three children were small. More books followed after the success of her first, as did collaborations with stores such as Debenhams and Matalan.

Jane's latest venture is a bakeware range with bargain chain Poundland, selling pastel-coloured kitchen essentials, including mini-scales and whisks for £1 a piece. Here's a delicious recipe for you to try at home from her new Poundland book, Beautiful Baking.

Soaked Lemon Cake from Jane Asher's Kitchen Beautiful Baking
Soaked Lemon Cake from Jane Asher's Kitchen Beautiful Baking


175g spreadable butter

175g caster sugar

3 medium eggs, lightly beaten

Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon and the juice of 2 (about 3 tbsp)

175g self-raising flour

Pinch of salt

3tbsp milk

50g granulated sugar

For the drizzle:

50g sieved icing sugar

A little lemon juice

What you have to do

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/165C fan. Line the bottom and sides of a 900g (21 x 10 x 6cm) loaf tin with baking parchment or a liner, to come a couple of centimetres above the top edge.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until really pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs little by little, beating well all the time.

Add the grated lemon zest, then gently fold in the flour and salt.

Stir in the milk, then turn the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.

Bake for about 35-45 minutes, until springy to the touch and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven but leave in the tin.

Put the granulated sugar and lemon juice into a small pan and bring it to the boil, stirring all the time as the sugar dissolves. Boil strongly for about half a minute.

Make several holes in the cake with a skewer, going right to the bottom of the tin. Pour the hot syrup all over the cake, letting it seep into the holes. Leave to cool.

Carefully lift the cake from the tin, by holding the edges of the paper or silicon. Gently peel away the paper or liner.

Add the lemon juice little by little to the icing sugar, beating well, until it's of pouring consistency but not too runny. Drizzle over the top of the cake and let it run down the sides.

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