Friday, 28 April 2017

A slice of Lemon Chiffon Cake for Hercule Poirot

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

Hercule Poirot is back, in a second adventure created by Sophie Hannah. Closed Casket is a cosy mystery, set in a big old manor.
Poirot and his new sidekick Catchpool (Scotland Yard detective) - who made his first appearance in The Monogram Murders - are invited to Lady Athelinda Playford's party in Clonakity, County Cork. Lady Athelinda is a rather eccentric bestselling children's books author. She announces her new will at the dinner, and all hell breaks loose.
Despite the presence of the famous detective and Catchpool, the murder takes place under their noses.
The number of suspects is limited to the family and guests, and everyone seems to have a motive.

I read the first Poirot by Hannah last year, and found the plot rather to be rather convoluted. It was entertaining enough, and when I saw Closed Casket at half price in WHSmith earlier this year, I couldn't resist buying it.

Closed Casket had yet another tangled plot, which didn't make sense at all. The characters are rather cardboard and one-dimensional, one caricature after another. The local police members are brainless, of course, and Catchpool is slightly more perceptive.
Even Poirot is more of a shadow of his "real" old self.

If you visit my blog even sporadically, you might know that I enjoy finding food and meals references in books I read.
There wasn't much food mentioned in this story.
Guests were served "a good old traditional English mutton broth". I didn't fancy cooking it.
Then there was "Brigid's finest dish, Chicken à la Rose". Brigid is a cantakerous crabby cook in Clonakity. We don't get to find out just why she is so dyspeptic and disagreeable.

I liked the sound of a lemon chiffon cake:
"I overheard Rolfe's complaint that he had been promised a lemon chiffon cake for pudding; how, now that he had been forced away from the table, was he to be served this cake..."

So, lemon chiffon cake it is then.
I have looked up a few recipes for this delicious cake, and the amount of eggs seems to differ - from six to a whole dozen. The same with the lemons, some cooks use one lemon, some demand lemon zest from four lemons.
My version is an amalgam of several recipes I found online and in my cook books.

best lemon cakes, best desserts

Lemon Chiffon Cake
zest of 2 lemons
6 eggs, separated
250g caster sugar
1/2tsp fine salt
125ml vegetable oil (I used light olive oil)
1tsp baking powder
200g self-raising flour
50g cornflour
juice of 1/2 lemon
150ml water

50g softened butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
icing sugar

In a big mixing bowl beat together zest of 2 lemons with 6 egg yolks and caster sugar. Add the salt, oil, baking powder, flour, cornflour, lemon juice and water, and mix well. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until fluffy but not to the consistency you need for making meringues. Mix it carefully into the cake batter.
Pour the batter in a well oiled bundt cake tin.
Place the tin in the oven preheated to 180C. Bake for about 40+ minutes. Check readiness with a toothpick.
Let the cake cool a bit before drizzling over the icing made from softened butter, lemon juice and icing sugar.

It is a delicate lemony cake. I think Hercule Poirot would have approved it.

best lemon cake


  1. This sounds delicious and light - I do like lemon cakes :)

    1. Thank you, Cheryl! It was a lovely fluffy cake.