Portrait of a recipe
As part of Word of Mouth TV’s Perth Writers’ Festival series, we asked authors to provide their favourite recipes. Some of them loved cooking, others not so much, but all could lay claim to one recipe that they had made their own.
Heather Rose loves a warm lemon and almond cake recipe that she borrowed from Nigella and revved up a touch.
“I found the moist, fragrant, exotic Damp Lemon & Almond Cake in Nigella Lawson’s delightful How to be a domestic goddess (Chatto & Windus),” says Heather. “I’m always experimenting with cake, so I took Nigella’s recipe and increased the almonds and the lemon because I love the extra tang and texture. I make a home-made almond meal – it’s super simple – instructions below. And I prefer to serve this warm, just an hour out of the oven. Perfect winter food.”
4 large eggs
50g plain flour or gluten-free plain flour
250g freshly ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
Grated zest of three lemons
Juice of two lemons
Heat your oven to 180/ 170 fan forced. Use a springform tin – that medium size – approx. 22cm. This is a rich, moist cake, so it can be served in quite small portions.
To make your own almond meal, heat the almonds in a pan to dry roast them a little. As they warm, they become fragrant (keep moving and shaking them in the pan so they don’t burn). Then let them cool. When cool, whizz them in the Thermomix – or the Bamix for a coarser, less even texture – which I love. Whatever grinder you have is fine. I prefer the uneven texture over the very fine texture of store bought almond meal – and the enhanced almond flavour – but store bought is fine if you need to be quick and will make a finer- grained cake.
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs and slowly add the flour. Add the zest, lemon essence and lemon juice. Mix well. Fold in the almond meal. Think loving thoughts about all the good people in your life. And whoever might enjoy this cake. Cakes are all about love.
Watch this cake carefully as it can cook in 45/50 mins, or it can take a little longer depending on your oven. It will brown a little on the top but still be moist within. Lay a sheet of foil over it, if you need to, while it’s doing the last of its cooking.
Let it rest for an hour before removing it from the tin. It’s moist and heavy so will break if you remove it beforehand.
This cake keeps well. The flavour actually intensifies after a day or two. Wrap it in foil if you intend to keep it. But it’s so delicious warm that at this time of the year, it makes a perfect dessert – or afternoon tea – or morning tea.
Add whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream if you like to serve.
With any citrus cake, you can always make a citrus syrup to accompany the cake. I tend to use a combination of good marmalade and fresh citrus juice which is then boiled up and reduced a little. Usually this can be added when the cake is hot from the oven to intensify the flavours within, and add to the moistness of the cake.
With this cake, you could add a lemon syrup, but only to serve when the cake is cool, not when it’s straight out of the oven, because this cake is already so moist. The syrup will add additional warmth on a cold night!
Enjoy. And thank you Nigella.
Image Credit: By Alpha from Melbourne, Australia [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons