Trust me on this one. I know it doesn't look like much, but trust me...
When I served F this buttercup-yellow lemon and almond cake for afternoon tea, she said lemon cake was her favourite. What serendipity! It’s one of my favourites too (I also have a soft spot for orange cakes, apple cakes, and plain buttery cakes).
A good lemon cake should be zingy and refreshing, with or without icing; it should be equally invigorating on a dull winter’s day or hot summer evening - though it must be said, at this time of year, with darkening days and chilly afternoons, a good lemon cake really shines. It lifts your spirits and your tastebuds. And if the recipes says juice or zest of one lemon, it can’t hurt to give a little extra squeeze or scrape, can it? There is nothing worse than a lemon cake deficient in lemon.
After that, I do not mind if the cake if fluffy as a cloud or dense and pudding like. Both these cakes are on the richer end of the scale, and this lemon-almond cake is definitely more pudding than cake – especially the next day, when the zingy icing has had time to soak in (a transformation like this reminds me of Nigella’s damp chocolate cake, which gets better over time). The word ‘squidgy’ springs to mind!
Cakes made with almond meal (or full-fat sour cream) are usually wonderfully moist. However, the fact I used a lot less meal than the recipe specified — my digital scales blanked on me while measuring the meal, and what I had already weighed out looked like an awful lot anyway — I’m sure is the main reason this heavenly, lemony slab was so good (I've made it since with the reduced quantity and it works every time). 'The best', as F later emailed me; so good that she did not share the piece I gave her to take home with anyone. So best I share the recipe with you.
Lemon almond cakeAdapted from Ross Dobson’s ‘Market Vegetarian’. The original recipe specified gently toasting 250 gms whole blanched almonds before whizzing them to make your own meal. However, I was feeling poorly — the cost of the blanched almonds would have made this a very expensive cake — and I had almond meal in the pantry.
- Preheat oven to 180 and prep a 20 cm square brownie tin.
- Cream 200 gms soft butter, 200 gms sugar and the zest of at least two lemons. Maybe a little more! Then beat in 3 eggs.
- Now fold thru 75 gms plain flour, 1 tspn baking powder, and 175 gms almond meal.
- Finally, stir thru at least 80 mls lemon juice. Maybe a little more!
- Spoon the batter into your brownie tin, and bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake shrinks away from the sides a little. Rest on a wire rack, then remove from tin and cool a little before icing.
- For the icing, combine 150 gms icing sugar with 2 tbspns of lemon juice. Yes ... maybe a little more! Pour over the cake. Lovely with a cup of earl grey, and even better the next day. I recommend eating this with a fork.
Lemon sour cream cupcakesAnother favourite lemon cake; Another lovely dense, moist texture. Adapted from AWW ‘Food we love’: I halved the recipe and made cupcakes.
- Preheat oven to 170 and prep a 12-hole muffin tray.
- Cream 125gms soft butter, the zest of at least two lemons and 1 cup sugar.
- Beat in 3 eggs then the juice of one lemon.
- Sift and fold thru 1 cup plain flour, half a ¼ cup of SR flour, and 90 mls sour cream.
- Divide into the cupcake and bake for 20–25 minutes or until done.