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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Glazed Lemon Cake | #TheJaneAustenSocietyParty

Glazed Lemon Cake | #TheJaneAustenSocietyParty
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Hey, remember me? Huge fan of the works of Jane Austen? You may have been clued in to this fact when I hosted the #JaneAustenBites event, or from my reviews and kitchen inspiration from spin-offs such as Clueless, The Jane Austen Book Club, The Austen Escape, or Chaos Comes to Longbourn. And just ask my family about the Austen marathons I hold at home—some version or another of the films or mini-series often being rewatched. Although oddly enough, I've never posted anything directly from the source herself, though in my head I'm constantly entertaining a year-long Jane Austen challenge (for myself) right here on the blog. That may still happen one day.

But that's a thought for another day. A few months ago I was invited to take part in a virtual party for a new Austen-inspired release called The Jane Austen Society by author Natalie Jenner, thrown by The Book Club Cookbook, and today...release day...the date has arrived! The Jane Austen Society is not a spin-off or new take on any of her classics, but rather a story centered around the impact that reading Jane Austen has had on the lives of a group of people.

The novel is centered in the quaint English village of Chawton, where some of the characters were born and raised (and where Austen herself spent the final years of her life), and the others called there by the history they wanted to connect with. A common love for Jane Austen, her words, and the importance of preserving her legacy in the history of the village lead to the coming together of this diverse group to form The Jane Austen Society.
The Jane Austen Society character cards
I enjoyed the character development, and the twists, turns, and occassional surprises, that connected them and banded them together. Like Austen's works, the ending was a characteristicly happy one, leaving the reader to ruminate on what these characters will do in the future with their new found happiness. In today's terms, wishing there was a season 2!

Now, how about the food? Sadly (for me), food wasn't featured very heavily in this book, although there were enough mentions of it to bring inspiration in the kitchen! For the most part, there were many mentions of sweet buns (sugar buns, hot buns) and tea, a few sorts of cake—walnut, coffee cake, glazed lemon, Victoria sponge filled with strawberry preserves, and other swees such as mince pie, rum balls, and sugar plums. There were passing mentions of crops such as wheat and barley, honey, corgettes, wax beans, beets, apples, squash, oranges, tomatoes, sweet peas. Plus alcoholic drinks like sherry, gin and tonics, or mulled wine with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg.

Maybe I should take that back? Written out, this seems like a lot of food. But I'll stick with what I said, because again, the food didn't really play a major role. I pulled inspiration from a passage just over halfway through, where some of our society members are discussing a major wrench thrown in their plans to preserve a local cottage.

Evie had been picking at a piece of glazed lemon cake on her china plate, and she placed the plate back down as she braced herself to finally speak to one of the biggest movie stars in the world. (p 189)

Glazed Lemon Cake | #TheJaneAustenSocietyParty

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Want to see what the other Jane Austen Society Party bloggers thought of the book, and what it inspired them to make in the kitchen? Simply click on the blog party logo to the right (this will take you to the "party page" over at Book Club Cookbook, where you'll find links to everybody who is participating)! --->

The Jane Austen Society

author: Natalie Jenner
publisher: St. Martin's Press (May 26, 2020)
genre: Women's Literature and Fiction, World War II Historical Fiction
source: The Book Club Cookbook
hard cover: 320 pages

"foodie" read: Not particularly

opening sentence: He lay back on the low stone wall, knees pulled up, and stretched out his spine against the rock.

teaser: Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

about the author: Natalie Jenner was born in England, raised in Canada, and graduated from the University of Toronto with consecutive degrees in English Literature and Law. She worked for decades in the legal industry and also founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. A lifelong devotee of all things Jane Austen, The Jane Austen Society is her first published novel.

connect with the author: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

recipe inspired by the book: Glazed Lemon Cake

Yield: serves 8

Glazed Lemon Cake

Glazed Lemon Cake

This pound cake is the best of both worlds—rich and tender AND bright and lemony! It's the perfect addition to your next book club or "society" meeting. Or just enjoy a slice while reading a little Jane Austen.
Prep time: 20 MCook time: 1 hourTotal time: 1 H & 20 M


  • 2 sticks (1 cup/16 tablespoons) salted butter, at soft room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large lemons, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt (preferably Pink Himalayan)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8"x4" loaf pan, and then line it lengthwise with a sheet of parchment paper, leaving a couple of inches to overhang on each side, for easing lifting later.
  2. Combine butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use a microplane to finely grate 2 of the lemons, letting the zest fall into the same bowl; set zested lemons aside (we'll use the juice later). Cream those three ingredients until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in one egg at a time, until thoroughly combined.
  4. Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add half of it to the large bowl and beat in. Add buttermilk, beat in. Add remaining dry mixture and beat until no dry spots remain, making sure to scrape down the sides.
  5. Scrape into the prepared pan, then slide into the oven (center rack) and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the edges start to look too brown, tent the loaf with foil.
  6. While the cake is baking, use a citrus zester to cut the zest from the remaining lemon into long, thin strips; set aside for the moment.
  7. Squeeze or ream all of the juice from the lemons; you should have approximately 3/4 cup of lemon juice. Set aside 1/4 cup of the juice.
  8. Put the powdered sugar into a small bowl, then whisk in 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice (from the extra juice, not the stuff you reserved), then add the lemon zest strips, to make the glaze. If you want the glaze a little looser, simply drizzle in a tiny bit more of the lemon juice until you have the consistency you like.
  9. When the cake is done baking, let it sit on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, use a toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the cake. Very slowly, pour your reserved 1/4 of lemon juice evenly over the cake. ALLOW THE CAKE TO COOL COMPLETELY.
  10. Once the cake has cooled to room temperature, use the parchment paper to lift it from the pan (run a thin-bladed knife along the edges first if you need to). Set the cake on a plate or board, then drizzle with the glaze. Serve!
  11. Reserve any lemon juice that may still have left for another use.
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