This cake is an adaptation of Claudia Roden’s Orange and almond cake. I was asked if I could bake a lemon drizzle cake that was lemony and not too sweet for an upcoming course. I have been meaning to try Roden’s recipe with lemons instead of the oranges ever since I first made the orange version years ago. This was my opportunity.
It certainly lives up to its intensely lemon moniker. It is like eating a bit of (tart!) sunshine. The colour of this cake is also intensely yellow, although I think that is due to the eggs being laid by our own chickens who generally roam free and eat a diet of maize, oats, sunflower seeds, anything they might find on the ground and vegetable kitchen scraps (and bread, lots of bread – they now look at me in disgust “What, bread again?”).
It is gluten-free if you make sure you get the GF baking powder. I suggest that you buy the whole, blanched almonds and grind them up in a food processor if you have one. This means that you get some superfine crumbs of almond, like flour in texture, along with some knobbly bits. This adds a wonderful texture to the cake that is more interesting to eat. The almonds also taste fresher when freshly ground.
I added a drizzle to the cake as soon as it came out of the oven to add another level of zinginess but if you want a more toned down lemonyness then feel free to ignore this last step.
The top of this cake is a tad overcooked, I wasn’t being diligent enough and had gone off to so something else whilst it baked, but actually the contrast is rather stunning both visually and in taste.
If you like your lemon cakes to have a punch to them then I urge you to try this recipe, with the drizzle. Let me know what you think.
200g caster sugar
250g ground almonds (grind whole blanched almonds yourself if you can)
1 tsp baking powder
For the drizzle
Juice of 1 lemon (you can add the zest too if you like)
50g caster sugar
Place the lemons in a small pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender and soft (can take two hours). I pop mine in the simmering oven of the Aga. Drain and leave the lemons until cool enough to handle.
Preheat your oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the lowest shelf in the baking oven of the four-oven Aga. Line a 23cm round spring-form cake tin.
Take off any green end bits off the lemons (no idea what they are called), cut in half and take out any seeds. Place in a food processor and whizz until finely pureed. If you don’t have a food processor then chop away until the lemon is finely minced, catching any juices.
Whisk the eggs until slightly thickened and then add the sugar gradually whisking all the time and continue to whisk until the mixture is light and mousse-like. Fold in the almonds, baking powder and lemons. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until it starts to shrink slightly away from the sides.
Just before the cake is cooked mix the sugar with the lemon juice. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven make holes all over the cake with a skewer and spoon the sugar and lemon mixture all over the surface of the cake. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.
This cake keeps for several days, if it isn’t eaten in one sitting.