Sue Watson on writing chick-lit (and a lemon cake recipe from the lovely Dan!)

Love Lies and Lemon Cake ICLMA chick-lit book is, to those who aren’t in the know, a fluffy meringue read about a girl falling in love with a boy then after a few minor obstacles they both collapse into a pink cloud of happy ever after. But for those of us who read and write chick-lit, we know it’s about so much more…it’s about the heartbreaking, hilarious and sometimes tragic stuff we all deal with in our lives.

I’m proud to write chick lit and though my own novels always have humour at their heart. My writing involves broken marriages, domestic abuse, alcoholism, homophobia and poverty…with the odd pink cloud here and there. If someone, somewhere can read about an experience and relate to it and not feel so alone ・then that’s good enough for me, because it’s one of the main reasons I write.

I also write so I have an excuse to discuss/bake/taste cake – and below is the well-tested recipe from Dan, the gorgeous Aussie hero from my novel Love, Lies and Lemon Cake! If you have read the book you will know how delicious and bittersweet his lemon cupcakes are ・just like him really!

Lemon cake

Dan’s Recipe for Love and Lemon Cake
(Makes about 20 cupcakes)

175g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g caster sugar
125g   soft margarine/butter
2 large free-range eggs
Grated rind of 2 large lemons
65ml floz milk

So first, prepare your paper cases lovingly in a cupcake tin
1. Preheat Oven 180 degrees C
2. Place all the ingredients into a bowl – add a large spoonful of love – and whisk until fluffy – yeah it’s that simple.
3. Spoon cake mixture into the prepared cases and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes (this varies depending on your oven – and the heat of your kitchen. My kitchen is always hot!)
4. Take them out, lie on a rack to cool (not you – the cakes) and breathe in that deep, citrusy warmth and imagine you’re sitting in Sydney Harbour with a cold beer before starting on that frosting.
5. Now this bit is up to you – if you want to dig out a little of that golden, lemony sponge and squeeze in some sweet-tart lemon curd, that’s fine with me… you go girl.

Bittersweet Love and Lemon Frosting
250g Icing Sugar (don’t forget to sieve)
80g Butter (many recipes say unsalted, but I think the salt adds to the flavour so stick with salted and take it out of the fridge a couple of hours before so it’s nice and soft)
3 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
If you like, you can add a couple of drops of lemon food colouring to give it that Aussie sunshine oomph.
25ml of whole milk

Beat together the icing sugar, the butter and that lemon zest with a drop of food colouring. Then, once it’s all mixed add the milk, pouring slowly while still beating – and continue to whisk for at least five minutes, the longer you whisk, the lighter and fluffier your frosting will be (think about those foamy white waves on Bondi).

When the cakes are cooled just top with a palette knife any way you choose – and add some zest on top if you like.

Now… enough about me and my cake… what about you? Tell me all your dreams! #lemoncakelivinglist

Love Dan x

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