Monday, March 29, 2010

Lemon Almond Cake

I made a cake for dessert a couple times recently. Just for regular-old dinners. No one's birthday, nothing interesting to celebrate, although someone did learn how to do a cartwheel here recently. We don't eat dessert very often so I surprised the whole crew right to smiles. I didn't want to exclude Baby, who is still not eating dairy protein. No dairy, no cake, right? How do you make a cake worth eating without butter or buttermilk or sour cream?

The answer - at least this time - is olive oil.

I hear your gasp. And thinking, "You had me at cake... Now you've lost me with olive oil." Seriously, a slice of this takes you right to the Mediterranean - if you've been there - or to whatever you imagine it must be like. Where households don't routinely think, "Now where is my neutral-flavored oil that can withstand high heat?" (You're right, the answer might be butter... but our Spanish friends disagree.)

This cake is a hit. Try it.

Lemon Almond Cake
adapted from Catherine Newman, who made an equally delicious Orange Walnut version

olive oil spray
1 1/2 cups almond flour (you can also buzz blanched almonds to powder in the blender if you can't find this, I used Trader Joe's almond meal despite numerous warnings about doing so for baking - Google it!)
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 350F. Using olive oil spray, cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Cut a circle of parchment paper to cover the bottom of the pan, lay flat, and spray again. Whisk together almond flour, flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Beat the eggs with an electric mixer until frothy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, and beat until  light, thick and pale, about 4 minutes. The batter will fall in a thick ribbon when the beater is lifted.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture. Then add in the lemon juice, zest, olive oil and vanilla; mix until just blended.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and place in oven with pan set on baking sheet. Bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. (I found the time to be a bit longer than that in my oven). Cool completely in the pan set on a rack. Sift powdered sugar over the top before serving.

Not a pretty picture, but one of my many servings involved vanilla ice cream, mint leaves and strawberries. Surprising I gave myself enough space for a photo...

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