Five lemon cakes enter… Only one wins. By being the tastiest.
With “Game of Thrones” season two airing and not one but two cookbooks for the novels being released, I knew I wanted to make lemon cakes for the premiere. The problem: I found five lemon cake recipes and wanted to make them all. This lead to the formation of Battle Lemon Cake, in which every other week (give or take) I made a lemon cake recipe to represent one of the five rulers bidding for the Iron Throne- George R. R. Martin calls them Kings in the Appendixes even though Daenerys is most certainly a woman. Psh. Regardless of the semantics, only one lemon cake can be crowned the ultimate champion of Battle Lemon Cake. Unfortunately for them, they will all be eaten.
Lemon Cake #1 (Lemon Cakes)
FOR: Renly Baratheon, the King in Highgarden
FROM: Tom Colicchio’s Taste of Westeros Food Truck – Recipe Here
Just like these cakes, Renly is flamboyant, fun, and well liked, but a little pompous and full of himself. The recipe showed its pompousness by the whites and yolks of the eggs having to be separated and the cake having to cook in individual ramekins in a water bath. Not to mention being made by Tom Colicchio automatically labels them hoity toity. Putting together the batter also created a huge mess, which we all know Renly would do if he took the Iron Throne, he’s only 21 after all. Despite this, the cakes were delicious and had nice crunchy bottoms when they were inverted. Loras Tyrell might also agree that Renly has a nice hard bottom. Bom chicka wah wah. These cakes tasted much better once completely cooled down because they had time to fully come together, so I would recommend waiting to eat them until they’re cold. It’s hard to do, but I believe in you! Insert joke about Stannis preferring Renly’s body cold here. Ultimately, this recipe was yummy but not necessarily worth the time, effort, mess, or low yield amount (only 4 cakes in my 4.5 ounce ramekins). Not that many A Song of Ice and Fire fans would expect a Renly inspired dessert to last long in Battle Lemon Cake anyway.
Lemon Cake #2 (Modern Lemon Cakes)
For: Robb Stark, the King in the North
From: The Inn at the Crossroads – Recipe Here
This cake is modern, has a great bright flavor and is also well liked (much like Lemon Cake #1). Much like Robb Stark it didn’t rise as high as I had initially anticipated, but that didn’t make them anyone less delicious or edible. Robb is a rule breaker, trying to make the North a separate entity and later in A Storm of Swords when he goes against his mother’s wishes and his own promises. The cakes in my silicone flower cups also broke the molds, literally overflowing. However, these crunchy bits that ended up in the pan beneath were the most delicious parts, just like my morbid fascination with the Red Wedding. The downside to these cakes was that they were a tad fattening, requiring two whole sticks of butter to make them. But they are definitely worth making every so often since they’re so yummy, and the lemon is most certainly not overpowering. This is also Robb’s downfall, as he took on too much that he couldn’t possibly hope to hold. Winterfell, his family, and maybe even his head if he’s not careful.
Lemon Cake #3 (Elizabethan Lemon Cakes)
For: Stannis Baratheon, the King in the Narrow Sea
From: The Inn at the Crossroads – Recipe Here
I initially aligned Stannis with these Elizabethan lemon cakes because Stannis is old school, stuck in his ways, and these cakes are an older recipe from the 1600s. Nothing modern about Stannis. What I didn’t expect was a cake inspired by Stannis would be so damn yummy. Granted, I had to poke them full of holes (a corn holder works great) so the glaze would penetrate all the way through the bottom of these dense cakes. You would probably have to stab Stannis a bunch of times to force him to be even a little bit as friendly as his brother. The cakes are literally layered with flavor, from the sweet honey/lemon glaze on top all the way down to the dense, slightly lemony bottom. Stannis is also an extremely layered individual, although it would be easy to argue that he’s harder on the surface and possibly sweeter deep down, although he has yet to show anything even remotely nice- particularly in the later books. Oh Stannis, hard to believe, but you make one palatable lemon cake. But you are a bit dense, in your decisions and when you come out of the oven.
Lemon Cake #4 (Arya’s Lemon Cakes)
These cakes were initially chosen to represent Joffrey for one simple reason, both the King and the cakes were 100% artificial. Joffrey has no blood claim to the throne while this recipe calls for no actual lemons as ingredients, just lemon extract or lemon verbena oil and dried lemon verbena. Also like Joffrey, they were a giant pain in my neck! I literally put this recipe off so long, that they were supposed to be the second lemon cakes I made. Unfortunately, I could not for the life of me find dried lemon verbena anywhere, nor could I find the suggested alternatives like lemon verbena tea, and I refused to drive out of my way to a specialty store or order the spice online. Instead, I replaced the verbena with natural lemon zest. When I made the cakes they were quite fun (albeit time consuming), coming out like pancakes, but while they were pretty on the outside they were absolutely vile on the inside, with a weird gummy consistency and even stranger taste. Just like Joffrey, they look nice and golden when you look at them, but are gross and evil on the inside. Blech! These were the only lemon cakes that went straight in the garbage. So perfectly Joffrey inspired.
Lemon Cake #5 (Elizabethan and Modern Lemon Cakes)
For: Daenerys Targaryen, the Queen Across the Water
From: A Feast of Ice and Fire
Due to the official “Game of Thrones” cookbook having not one but two lemon cakes in it, I had to use artistic license and make the final TWO recipes for Daenerys Targaryen, which is fine with me because I personally think she’s a great blend of the modern and the old world (which might be just what Westeros needs). On the one hand, she’s a traditional Targaryen (Elizabethan cakes) complete with dragons, and on the other, she’s a strong capable woman willing to do whatever it takes to get back her throne (modern cakes). Both cakes had a nice, refreshing lemon taste to them, with the Elizabethan cakes being more dense and the modern cakes being nice and light. Something for everyone to love depending on if you prefer cookies or cake, or which side of Dany you love. The caring wife and potential mother, or the vengeful Queen seeking her throne. Both had easy to make, light frostings that added to the cakes, which were delicious both hot and cold. They can pretty much be enjoyed any way you eat them, which really makes them the ultimate lemon cakes. Added bonus: they will take what is theirs with fire and blood.
So who won Battle Lemon Cake you ask? Well, after 11 lemons, hours of late night baking, much deliberation and a whole lot of delicious Sunday nights, the winner is most certainly…
LEMON CAKE #5, FOR DAENERYS TARGARYEN!
Ultimately, it came down to which recipe was the most delicious, and the Elizabethan lemon cakes from the A Feast of Ice and Fire cookbook gave me a mouth orgasm. The cakes were moist and light, and the frosting gave it a nice lemony kick at the end. Everything I imagined a lemon cake would be. These have earned their place in Westeros as the winner of Battle Lemon Cake.