It was the tender beginning to a moving scene in episode 2 of this season’s “Game of Thrones,” when Lady Olenna offers long-suffering Sansa Stark a lemon cake at tea. Sansa smiles and replies, “They’re my favorite!” This is all shortly before she breaks down and reveals that King Joffrey – fiance of Lady Olenna’s granddaughter Margaery – is “a monster”.
Sansa loves lemon cakes just as much in the novels: “Later came sweetbreads and pigeon pie and baked apples fragrant with cinnamon and lemon cakes frosted in sugar, but by then Sansa was so stuffed that she could not manage more than two little lemon cakes, as much as she loved them.” ~ A Game of Thrones
Lemon cakes might be one of the few bright spots in Sansa’s life, and they’re certainly the bright spot of any dinner or tea table as well. This past weekend, I baked a batch of the medieval lemon cakes from A Feast of Ice and Fire, the official companion cookbook to the “A Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy series and HBO’s TV adaptation, “Game of Thrones.”
Easy to make and perfect for summer, these lemon cakes are satisfyingly dense and full of delicious lemon flavor. Cookbook authors Chelsea Monroe-Cassel & Sariann Lehrer sourced the medieval recipe from the Lucayos Cookbook, published in 1690. In its original form, it reads:
“To Make Lemon Cakes. 1/2 lb flour, 1/2 lb fine sugar, the peel of two lemons, or one large one; 3 oz. butter; 3 eggs; 1/2 the whites. Break the butter into the flour and stir them with a knife. Make them the bigness of a gingerbread button. Grate the lemon peel with a piece of the sugar. Butter the tins. Take them of the tins whilst warm. Place them upon the tins about 2 inches distance because they spread in the oven. Two minutes will bake them.”
Mine sure didn’t bake in two minutes, but the trick to these lemon cakes is making sure not to overbake them. I also forgot the trick of using parchment paper to line the cookie sheets, instead of greasing with cooking spray, to keep them from browning too much on the bottom. I served them to some friends we had over for dinner on Friday night, and although I thought they were too browned and hard on the bottom, everyone gobbled them up quickly! An easy glaze made from powdered sugar and milk drizzled over the top added a pop of sweetness and made for a pretty presentation.