Lemon Cake (Finest ever.) (c.1905) ★★★★★

I am alive!
And living in Japan!

It has been quite the adventure so far, especially culinarily. Firstly, I eat kyuushoku, the same school lunch the students eat, every day at work. Kyuushoku is mostly so-so, sometimes awful, sometimes good, and every now and then delicious. The lunches are made by a nutritionist, but they are very high in calories (600-900) and often lack vegetables or much color other than beige. The meals always include rice or bread, whole milk, and some kind of soup. However, I am consuming more fish and seaweed than ever before in my life, which I guess is probably a good thing overall.

One neat thing I love about Japan is their obsession with local food. Each prefecture has its famous foods - mine happens to be famous for Japanese pears, which have become my new obsession.

I've felt bad for neglecting this blog. Mostly I have been too overwhelmed getting used to life in Japan and my first real job. Also, its difficult finding ingredients. A lot of things are difficult to find, especially if they're out of season (absolutely no berries in my grocery store right now!). On top of that, Japanese people don't really use ovens, so we had to purchase one, which is so small that it fits on a countertop!

My current kitchen set-up. That's my oven on the counter! The whole other side opposite the fridge and counter is a giant sink and a stovetop.

Anyway, enough about Japan! I finally feel good about posting a new recipe here! I picked something simple, with ingredients I basically already had on hand (although it took me a while to find cornstarch!).

Original Recipe:

NO. 18. LEMON CAKE. (Finest ever.) Mrs.
Clara Moulton, Loura, Cal,--Take one good
cup sugar, one-half cup butter, three eggs,
(save the yolk of one,) one-half cup milk, two
cups of flour, one tablespoon baking powder,
jelly between layers, one cup cold water, one
cup sugar; the rind and juice of one large
lemon, one tablespoon corn starch, heaping
with the yolk of one egg and a little butter,
and a little water. Put in the corn starch and
yolk when it commences to boil and cool it
before spreading the layers.

The Verdict:

The cake was a bit dense, but very soft and a wonderful texture. There was a bit of a crunchy crust on top of the cake, but I actually kind of like the extra crunch thrown in there. The cake itself was a bit bland, but it wasn't bad. I think it could have benefitted from a bit of vanilla is all.
The curd was lovely and bright. I ended up adding waaaaay more cornstarch, partially due to it not thickening up and partially due to a huge mistake! But it turned out really great and the perfect consistency.
Overall, my whole family loved this cake! We ate it with fresh whipped cream, but its just fine on its own too.

Baking notes: I used cake margarine instead of butter because it was what I had on hand. Also, my measuring cup may be different from North American measurements and I used my weird little convection oven to bake.

Modernized Version:

(Adapted from the Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs (save one yolk)
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
juice and rind of one lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a cake pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and milk and mix until smooth. Add the flour and baking powder, mix well, and pour into the prepared pan.
3. Bake the cake. It took around an hour for me, but I have a weird oven.
4. Let the cake cool and prepare the filling.
5. In a saucepan, mix the water, sugar, and lemon juice and rind. Bring to a boil.
6. Add the butter, egg yolk, and cornstarch to the filling. Whisk well to combine.
7. When the filling has thickened, remove from heat and let it cool before filling the cake.

Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.


  1. Thanks for posting and good luck in Japan. It was great hearing about your adventures there.
    Lisa from AuntLilsKitchen,com

  2. What an amazing adventure! Your little oven is so cute!

    1. The best thing is that it doubles as a microwave, too!

  3. Hello :) I have been adoring your blog for years and absolutely love your creations! I don't know if this even worth your consideration, but I have nominated you for the "Very Inspiring Blogger Award" as a little nudge of appreciation. Check out www.inwardmarvels.com if you wish to participate (it can be fun!). Otherwise, have a wonderful time in Japan and Merry Christmas! Best, MarvellineMarvels

  4. Hey! I graduated with the exact same degree- History with a minor in Museum Studies! It's nice to see other people out there with the same degree. :-)
    That cake looks yummy! I admire your perseverance despite moving to a foreign country. Baking in a toaster oven is a huge challenge. I tried it once with horrible results. So, bravo! I hope you're able to continue in your historical culinary experiments and share them on here. Don't give up!