The other day, a very dear friend brought me six huge plump and fragrant meyer lemons from her grandmother’s tree. I’d had my eye on a lemon-almond cake recipe that I’d clipped from Vegetarian Times magazine several years ago, as I love a nice, rustic tea-cake. I decided to make it gluten-free for my intolerant sister (ahem, that is, gluten-intolerant) and substituted the flour with extra ground almonds and some tapioca flour.
I was also ecstatic to find attractive, organic, California-grown strawberries that weren’t outrageously overpriced the other day. I snapped them up, and served them, quartered and macerated with a bit of sugar, with said cake.
This dense, moist, not-too-sweet cake calls for a few different steps; toasting the almonds, grinding them with the tapioca flour, creaming the butter and sugar, whipping the whites to soft peaks, but they are all fairly simple to execute, and ensure delicious results. I may be a bad Jew, but I think this might even be kosher for Passover, no? (When is Passover, again?)
Nuts for Cake:
(Gluten-Free) Meyer Lemon Almond Cake
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
Makes one 8″ round cake, or 8-10 servings
I imagine you could use almond flour or meal for this cake with adequate results. Blanched flour would probably result in a lighter color, texture and flavor, which wouldn’t necessarily be bad things.
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, lightly toasted and cooled (see note)
4 ounces (1/2 cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
zest of two medium meyer lemons
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
For serving (optional):
powdered sugar, for dusting the cooled cake
lightly sweetened whipped cream
1-2 pints strawberries, hulled, quartered and tossed with a bit of sugar
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º. Butter an 8″ round cake pan, and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy, 5 minutes on medium, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the yolks one at a time, mixing to combine.
Meanwhile, in a food processor or coffee grinder, grind the almonds with the tapioca as finely as possible without turning them into almond butter. Add the baking powder and salt to combine.
On low, stir the almond mixture into the butter mixture. Gradually add the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl.
In a clean, large bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. With a large rubber spatula, stir a third of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the rest just to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top springs back when pressed with a finger, about 45 minutes. Let cool ten minutes. Invert a plate over the top of the cake, and, using oven mitts, flip the whole thing over. Remove the cake pan and the paper, and let the cake cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving.