Recipe Roulette: Sour lemon cake

How many of you got a cook book for Christmas? I actually didn’t get one this year, which is a change, as my cupboards look like this:


And on top of the cupboard looks like this:


Other coffee tables and bookcases also look like this:

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And there they sit, occasionally flicked through and referred to, but mostly just sitting idle. And this year I have HAD ENOUGH. Enough of me cooking the same fortnightly roster of meals that I know will be eaten. That are easy to make. That make up my weekly grocery shop without me having to think about them. ENOUGH I tell you! Some of you may remember that last year my new years resolution was to not make spaghetti bolognese for a year. Silly? yes! But I got all the way until October or even November without making it one time (I outsourced it to Rob). The method behind this madness was to try to break the mould of my normal family weekday cooking and try different stuff. And it kind of worked, but then the new stuff became part of the old stuff if you know what I mean? And there I was…making slag bol for something different!

I have decided to do the odd cook book challenge. Open up my cupboard and have a crack at some of the recipes inside. It’s like a russian roulette of recipes if you will…I decided to open that cupboard, take the 4th book from the end left and open that bad boy to page 62. THAT RANDOM.

The book I got was this one: An old one given to me when I first moved out of home which I thought at the time was VERY modern and grown up.


And page 62 led me to 4 recipes, 1 which I quickly decided would be the winner. A quick look at it also meant I only had to get some sour cream to get it done…easy…so I grabbed some, and off we went.


Sour Lemon cake

125 grams butter  (half an Australian 250gram stick)
3/4 cup caster sugar
1.5 tablespoons grated lemon rind
2 eggs
1.5 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup lemon juice

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1. Throw the butter, sugar and lemon rind into a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until light and creamy


2. Add the eggs to the mixer and beat well


3. Fold in the flour, sour cream and lemon juice into the mixture and transfer immediately into a lined square cake tin

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4. Cook at 180 degrees celsius for 40 mins. Cool completely on a rack and then cut into squares

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We couldn’t wait until it was cool to eat it, so we ate it warm and it was quite like a cakeier version of a lemon delicious pudding and it was DEAD SET fabulous. And you know what? I’ll make it again! And you know what? I didn’t even know it was sitting in my cupboard! How good is that?

So, who is with me? Take that 4th book from the end, open up page 62 and hit me up with a recipe! Cook it for you or your family…just because. Or just open the cupboard, pick any book and pick any page and commit. You never know what is sitting in their waiting to be cooked and waiting to become your signature dish!

I’d love to know what recipe you came up with…let me know!
Anyone a fan of a lemon sour cake? Seriously how good!
What cook book did you get for Christmas?


  1. Hey there, I still have that one too! (and the others in the series – Eating, and Cooking I think) Did you know it’s by Donna Hay? I actually still make a recipe from one of them – asparagus with balsamic and butter (not sure which Marie Claire one that’s in though). Worth a go though – very very very easy and delicious. Thanks for the post : )

  2. Every fortnight I try a recipe I’ve never made before. Helps keep me from being in a funk. But page 62? Now that’s adventurous!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Good on you Robyn – I’m going to keep it up, a random page number every other week and blog about it…watch this space!

  3. That is such a great idea … at last count I had 72 cookbooks on my shelf (extreme i know!) and I do exactly the same as you. I was given The Agrarian Kitchen for Christmas which is a gorgeous book to look at, although not very weeknight/ family meals. I also gifted myself with Community (the Arthur St Kitchen book) which has amazing salads I will definitely try.

  4. Emma Steendam says

    You’ve taken the words right out of my mouth. This year I’ve decided I will actually COOK things from my montrous pinterest board of food, what a novel idea! I was thinking once a week I would most definitely cook something I’ve pinned, but it can get tricky when living a two hour round trip to the nearest sour cream…so we’ll see how we go. I need to perhaps meal plan a little better with the shopping list, like you said not zombie shopping and grabbing the same things that I know can create a stock standard meal time after time. Also I’m sure things will just turn to shit in June so am not being too strict on it! I’ll pick something today and make for dinner next week. PROMISE!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Distance could be problematic for you for sure – but at least have a crack. I HAVE to start to get organised with meal planning. It’s just not in me though – for whatever reason. I instead just get meat and go from there. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  5. Whitney Sigler says

    I received the Beekeman Boys Heirloom Desserts Cookbook From our son.

  6. Rebecca Simunic says

    I got the new Donna Hay one for xmas from my lovely sister in law, I think its called new classics and its fab!!!

  7. Love this idea of random cooking! My 4th book/ pg 62 was cheese scones. Not as exciting as cake but worth a whirl all the same with my mum coming to visit next week.

  8. Just found new home for all my cookbooks – 4th on left was Jane Kennedy’s OMG! I can eat that? No recipe P62 but closest is Ph no noodles on p59 – Beef Pho without the noodles – will make this week. Would love you to keep up this challenge. X

  9. Reannon Hope says

    I have over 100 cookbooks, plus food magazines, scrapbooks filled with cut/written/printed recipes plus Pinterest boards! It’s an addiction & I LOVE it!!

    I got the latest Nigella cookbook for Christmas & when my bday rolls around Ill be asking for another cookbook such is my obsession.

    I do cook from my collection, probably not as often as I should so maybe I should do a weekly challenge ? It is hard when you have kids & they just ask for the same stuff over & over & over again! One of my kids can tell when I try a different pasta sauce recipe or cake recipe & says ” why can’t you just use the recipe we like?” & when I tell him I want to try different recipes he rolls his eyes & tells me he likes the old way best….how annoying!

  10. Looks delicious! Just a note though, your reference to a stick of butter is a bit misleading. I’ve discovered the American’s wrap their butter differently to us Aussies, four sticks make up a 500g block. See?

  11. Great idea Beth! Dunno how many cook books I have, but it’s plenty. I have started menu planning recently and it saves me money and the afternoon angst of what to cook for dinner. Also I only shop once or twice a week, instead of every damn day. I have started a meals list on my phone, and I have a Pinterest board, so I check them on shopping morning, choose the week’s dinners and only buy the ingredients for those meals. It is working a treat! I recommend it, even though it seems hard to choose all your meals at once in the beginning. I don’t choose which day for each meal, I pick the one I feel like from the list (on the whiteboard in the kitchen) each day.

  12. I love this, you should do this every fortnight or month! I’m following!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      I’m going to…right now it’s every so often because I know if I say once a fortnight I won’t commit…but I’m in!

  13. I turn 30 in March and rather than having a ‘bucket list’ as such, I have devised a list of ’30 Recipes before I’m 30′. It is essentially a list of things that I have always thought I’d love to make, but don’t have the time or skill for. It has been so great at pushing me out of my cooking comfort zone. My wonderful husband and babies have been pretty willing taste-testers too 🙂

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Fab! What has been on there? I want to try pastry this year…I’ve always been scared and I’ve decided enough is ENOUGH. I can do it!

      • I made lamingtons and profiteroles last week, and am doing sticky date pudding and lemon meringue pie this weekend. Not all of the recipes are particularly complicated, just things I’ve never had a reason to make!! And go for it with the pastry – if you have a food processor it is an absolute cinch 🙂

  14. Gibbergunyah says

    The last time I tried anything new was Christmas Day and Nigella’s roast potatoes in duck fat and her green bean casserole went down very well with our free range roast pork. Beofore that I hadn’t done anything new for ages. The fourth book from the end is Bill Granger ‘s Bill Cooks for Kids, pg 62 is Rigatoni and Chicken Bolognese – what are the chances of striking a bolognese???

  15. I try something new all the time – thanks to ! Just search and wham – there’s a recipe hiding in my own collection of cookbooks (over 90 now), magazines or blogs. Great for finding a use for leftovers, or random ingredients lurking in the fridge, and brilliant for planning meals through out the week as very little goes to waste. Best of all it’s free (unless like me, you have a cookbook obsession and want to add more than 5 books)

  16. Mrs Tiddlypip says

    Just before Christmas I decided that 2014 was going to be the year of cooking from my (many) cookbooks and my huge collection of recipes pulled out from magazines (its embarrassing! ). The aim is to cook at least 1 new recipe a week…mix up the meal plans & get the kids to try some new things. Am already behind due to being on holidays. .oops…but will catch up when I get home (will still have 1 1/2 weeks of school hols to fill 😉 ). Hoping to post how each recipe goes on my blog ( Its all very new..will see how we go!
    Ps..have been following you for a while and I really enjoy your posts!

  17. I love cookbooks too, but use them fairly often. I liked your challenge though! I’ll share with you on IG!

  18. Dannie Wallace says

    looks fabulous! I love cooking i think we both have about the same cook books nearly loli have over 100+ in my shelf i cook alot with my herbs and spices,dukkahs etc… with my new (YIAH) etc… But your idea is awesome so i am in and will do this from next week pick a book and page and cook /bake it 🙂 Thanks so much for the inspiration x

  19. Sorry, every time I write it’s an essay so I will try and be brief……lol. I love cooking except when it comes to the mundane decision of what to have for dinner! I have lots of favourite cookbooks. I love Jamie Oliver however his 15 and 30 minute cookbooks equate to (more like) 45 min and 1 hour in my kitchen. Our favourite is Thai Chicken Laksa (pg 44 15 Minute Meals), however please allow more like 45 mins going like a ‘bat out of hell’ and a lot of washing up.
    Anyway, when you have little ones and work all the time, (and I don’t have little people anymore, daughter 19 and son 17) my favourite recipe books (there are two that I have) are Frostbite by Susan Austin. Simple recipes using fresh ingredients. Chicken Stroganoff is one of our faves. She also uses a lot of coriander, in other recipes, which would have to be one of my favourite herbs. I am sad that mine has bolted so waiting for the next lot to grow!!!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Everything has bolted in my veggie garden…it’s actually a lost cause at the moment.

      • I think growing anything this season has been an up hill battle. The plants don’t know what they are doing. Is it it hot, is it cold…not even the weather man can get it right. We need some rain and lots of it!!! Please…..

  20. For the love of god and decent looking cakes can you bloggers please please please line your cake tins properly. I can not even imagine just scrunching the edges in. What does the corner of the cake look like. You are all doing it – so please do not think this is aimed just at you!!! I am shocked with the precision bed making does not bring more precision glad baking!!

    • I am joking!! I just realised that I didn’t really re-read that!! Well kind of joking!

      • BabyMacBlogBeth says

        Ha! Love it Sally. You’re right. Time to FOCUS. How can I EVER win a show with a cake like that?!! My mother never showed me right…I blame her.

        • Can you send a community service message out the others who like to blog their baking. It is like nails on a chalkboard! I would most appreciate it. By the way, I looked at my copy of this book and I made this for afternoon tea when I had my new fiance’s grandparents over for afternoon tea apparently. I used to note with lead pencil when I made it and who for. Too much time on my hands. I would have had no mixer and I bet it was like lead. Shameful.

      • Scrunchy corners do not change the taste!! So wondering why the criticism?? I have entered the local show in Cooma and have won several firsts. Baking paper is not usually part of the unspoken baking criterion. Not using a cooling rack is. Time you pulled your head in.

    • ahoy.jenni says

      Sally I am a precision paper liner too so I understand completely!! I was taught to trace and cut for goodness sake! Margaret Fulton style I suppose, you would never see scrunchy paper in her photos!

  21. I only own a few cookbooks (like, less than 10) and I don’t let myself buy anymore for this very reason…and I’m a crap cook. But I like this recipe! And I like your challenge! So bugger it, I’m going to buy more cookbooks and cook the absolute crap out of them!

  22. Tara Lucas says

    Such a great idea. I do the grocery shop monthly so I think I’ll pick two a month and see how I go. Currently writing Jans shopping list so perfect timing really. Thanks Beth.

  23. Mandi Jones says

    We’ve created a Summer of Salads challenge for ourselves and have decided that we’ll aim to have 30 different (ie, new to us) salads before the end of summer. We only started a couple of weeks ago and had number 7 yesterday, Thai Style Beef Noodle Salad. Fun, interesting and so far all very yummy so it’s a win for all of us. I’ve been posting them on instagram as a way of keeping track and staying motivated – I’m @1onthesunnyside
    PS: Of course we’ve had salad other nights too but it’s been run of the mill, chuck it at a plate, kinda salad 🙂

  24. ahoy.jenni says

    4th book, page 62…. The book is Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson and the recipe is Otsu ! It’s a buckwheat noodle salad. The dressing has lemon zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, rice vinegar and shoyu, then you cook the soba noodles, add some tofu, coriander, onion and cucumber and toss the dressing through. Nice!
    I seriously culled my cook books recently and I am down to 18 only, but now there is more room for new ones…

  25. Lisa Mckenzie says

    I love Lemon cake it is my fave and this recipe looks good I will try it. I have gotten rod of a lot of my old cookbooks buy still have about 7 my favourites are Nigella Lawson’s and some old woman’s weekly ones.

  26. The 4th book from the end is a book called ‘200 one pot meals’ gifted to me 4 Christmas’ ago by my sister’s mother-in-law (funny, my own mother-in-law never buys me gifts). Page 62 is a recipe for Chicken and Spinach Masala (as in the Indian curry, not the Italian wine)… Might whip it up this week for an interesting post – spring-boarded by you… Thanks 🙂

  27. Nicole Everett says

    I’m up for the challenge. The 4th book is Moosewood Cookbook pg 62 is Balkan Cucumber Salad. Great for this hot weather.

  28. Kat Sultanie says

    This is such a cool idea! I just picked my recipe book out and ended up with banana mango gelato. Perfect for the hideous Gold Coast heat. I’ll be whipping it up this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration.

  29. Babymac, I recently discovered a game changer with lemon cakes. Instead of zesting the lemon, peel the whole lemon and add to the sugar in a food processor… Blitz until the sugar turns yellow and zesty and amazing.

    I too have a squllion recipe books and a menu plan blank.

  30. just trawling through some old posts looking for baking inspiration…trying to decide between the lemon sour cream, or Anne, which I HAVE to try given it is also my name!
    But…it made me wonder if you know of this site called Eat Your Books? It’s a search engine for alI those cookbooks & magazines you (and I !) own. I read a review of it a year or two ago and fell in love with the concept. One you have uploaded the book titles you have piled on your shelves, it allows you to search through all the recipes indexes online, while still filtering by main ingredients etc etc. Then it tells you what the primary ingredients are and where you’ll find the recipe Bill Granger Everday, page 22. How brilliant is that? I have no vested interest in it, just enthusiasm…check it out here

  31. This is inspiring! I have a ridiculous amount of cookbooks, I mean I could buy a round the world ticket with the money I have spent on them. I have always chosen books for a particular recipe that could be my nirvana. But, those books sit on my shelf and I return to the same ones or cook randomly from my rather boring repitoire. So thank you Beth. I am going to choose page 62. Ps, I am absolutely adoring your gorgeous pics of Maggie on Instagram xx

    • Thanks Kathy – I need to get back into this. So many books that I still need to get into. Will bring this back when I get back into the swing of blogging.

  32. Just made this after following link from your Lemon Curd recipe. So quick, and smells delish, would love to eat a chunk now, but going to have it tonight with ice cream! Thanks for recipe.

  33. 4th book from the end of an overflowing bookshelf “Botanical” by Paul Wilson one of my favs pg 62 a beautiful photo of Salad of new season vegetables with truffled egg yolk dressing looks divine. Not quite spring but oh so close so as soon as I see baby veg Im going for it. Time to unleash the unused cookbooks.


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