I am always looking for cake…
And this here is my current go-to cake. In addition to my Damp Mocha Cake, this is the cake recipe that I rely on when I have nowhere else to turn. I was literally about to make a religious reference and that this cake is my solace during hard times but as I blogger, I have the wherewithal to curb my creative flair. But I guess I’ve already mentioned it now. Oh hell, this is one of my favourite cakes.
I’d been looking for a light cake for ages. For so long I had been relying on cakes being really heavy and rich because at the end of the day, that’s essentially what you WANT out of a cake – but I am always dreadful when it comes to ordering pudding. The concept and idea is fantastic, to cap off a meal with something sweet, but by the time it comes down to ordering and I’ve already consumed the room of its food, I’m always too full for desert.
But then I was speaking to a friend of mine who cannot eat gluten and she told me that baking her cakes with grounds almonds totally eliminates that stuffy, fudgy bloated feeling and creates a deliciously ‘whipped’ style feeling to the cake that you can find room for after a big meal. And I’ve got this new obsession with whipping egg whites for my cakes to create the rise so I wanted to combine the two for this recipe.
This recipe also brings in an amazing rosewater cream. Don’t be too heavy handed with that though because one drop too many and it tastes like you’re eating old Auntie Edna’s bubble bath in cake form so be sparing with it. And don’t be alarmed – it sounds more exotic than it is – and I buy my rosewater for £1 at ASDA. So now there’s excuse not to add a little bit of Edna’s tame decadence into your cakes.
Preheat the oven to 200C and line/grease a 23inch spring form cake pan. Take 150g of butter and soften with a spoon in a big bowl. Add 200g of caster sugar to this and cream with the butter. I’ve pretended I did this by hand for the sake of looking physical, but I did all of this in a freestanding mixer so please feel free to do the same. Now grate in the zest of 3 unwaxed lemons – let it be unwaxed because otherwise you’re only grating wax into your batter. Now add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix.
Separate six eggs – now this I do by hand because I’m sick and I like the feeling – and throw the yolks into the batter and allow to mix in with butter/sugar. Pour the egg whites into a big bowl and whip into a mountain high but pillow soft peaks. The easiest way to do this is with a handheld whisk that does all the heavy whisking for you, but I’ve done this numerous times by hand with a whisk. Just make sure the eggs whites are stiff and robust. Fold this into the eggy butter batter.
Now fold in 350g of ground almonds. This sounds a lot – and I guess it is – but don’t worry about the price because ground almonds are now cheap as dust in Home Bargains and you also need a lot of these almonds to give it that famous sweet almond ‘Capri’ style taste. It’s totally worth it. This also makes the cake gluten-free so hello. Make sure you ‘fold’ this in, i.e. ensuring there’s lots of air going into the batter. There’s no real rising agents in this cake (bicarb, flour, etc) and the lift is totally reliant on the eggs whites so you want to ensure that you keep air in the batter.
Whatever, logistics over, and hopefully your arm feels like it’s had a fantastic workout. Pour the whole thing into your greased/lined tin and slide it in the oven. After about 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 150C and bake for another 35-40 minutes. Once this time is up, remove to cool for about 30 minutes before you take it out of its tin. Allow to cool for another 15 minutes of the tin before you decorate.
To decorate, all I do is dry roast some almond flakes until they’re golden and crunchy (don’t take your eye off the pan though because they burn quickly). I then sieve some icing sugar over the cake before sprinkling over the almonds and grating over some more lemon zest. My tip though is that when you take the cake out of the pan, flip it upside down. That way you can decorate the flat surface as opposed to the domed one. Get it?
For the cream, it couldn’t be easier. Grab yourself some double cream and squeeze in a little lemon juice, grate in a little lemon zest before pouring in a capful (literally just using the cap from the bottle) of rosewater. Drizzle over, and you’re ready to eat.
It’s a really soft, light cake that is fantastic to follow a roast dinner when you’re looking for the remote and an empty sofa to collapse on to. I tend to make this in advance (usually only one day before to make the most of the soft, springy sponge) but it relieves any kind of stress on the day.