I meant to share this with you on Heavenly Bakers Free Choice week 12/20.
This photo tells you most of what you need to know about this cake: bright, clear lemon mixed with flavorful turbinado sugar form the base of this cake, which is Rose's favorite non-chocolate cake in Rose's Heavenly Cakes.
This cake doesn't look like a whole lot. Its plain golden brown appearance belies the depth of flavor inside. You wouldn't know it from the dearth of lemon recipes I have featured on this website, but lemon is likely my favorite ingredient in the whole kitchen. I love Greek, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, so I use lemon almost everyday in my savory cooking, lemon meringue pie (when done well) is my favorite dessert, and I love lemon curd so much, I teach it in classes as my favorite way to use up egg yolks.
Long story long, I knew I would love this cake from the beginning, and Rose was right.
This is another cake which starts with toasted, ground nuts in the book (like the Sicilian Pistachio Cake and Almond Shamah Chiffon) and this is one technique Rose employed in this book that inspires me to create my own recipes.
One thing I wondered about was whether the large granules of the turbinado sugar would affect the creaming of the butter and sugar, and ultimatey, the crumb of the finished cake. I have been operating under the assumption that superfine sugar (also known as bakers, casters, or ultrafine sugar, though some are slightly more or less fine than others) was the best sugar to use for baking (and best for cakes in particular to prudce a finer texture). While some people grind their own superfine sugar in the food processor, Elizabeth Falkner once told me that grinding superfine sugar from granulated will not produce the same result as superfine, as the crystal size is different.
Per Rose in her article "Rose's Sugar Bible" published in Food Arts Magazine in 2000: "A close approximation [to baker's sugar] can be made in the food processor using a coarser granulation and processing for a few minutes. Using a food processor it is possible to make a more finely granulated sugar, but the crystals will not be as uniform in size as in commercially produced finer grain sugars."
So with the concern about crystal size,I wondered how the larger chunks of turbinado sugar (sold as Sugar in the Raw and a blond/light brown color) would work in cake batters. Check out Rose's note on the use of turbinado sugar in these recipes for a picture because these raw sugars vary greatly. As Rose tells Joe Pastry when he asked why she used all turbinado sugar in this cake, she started experimenting with turbinado sugar in cakes after she made a successful Italian meringue with it. And this cake does melt in your mouth. While it has a sturdy crumb and not a cloud-like texture, the Golden Lemon Almond is very tender and soft, and the flavors are developed such that the finished cake is more than the sum of its parts, much like carmelized onions taste like more than 15 minutes and some oil.
I missed some steps here because I was in a rush, so here is a link to Joe Pastry's blow by step, step by blow, post demonstrating the entire recipe, How to Make Rose's Golden Lemon Almond Cake .
This is just about the edge of the window between 65 and 75 degrees when butter is softened but not melted. As you can see, this cake is very easy to put together because everything can be weighed and mixed in the same bowl.
Oh my word, this batter was just too wonderful. I really need some sort of chip installed where my tongue doesn't work after the first taste of batter or dough.
The batter was beautiful, and too easy to eat. I really need to stop eating batter.
This is the fun part! Complimenting the lemon oil and zest baked into the cake, after the cake comes out of the oven (and still in the pan) you poke it full of holes with a skewer and soak the cake with a syrup made from nothing more than fresh lemon juice and turbinado sugar.
One of the things I love about Rose is that she is constantly experimenting and evolving, and many of her new recipes shed older cumbersome techniques as she has simplified the recipes while achieving the same result. For example, there are many things in the book, including this syrup and ganaches for example, that are put together in the microwave in a glass measuring cup. MINIMIZE DISHES, PEOPLE.
I haven't found a tool I like for this job yet. These BBQ silicon brushes are too clunky, and the pastry brushes I have used with natura bristles shed bristles everywhere.
I can certainly see why this is Rose's favorite non-chocolate cake in the book, and having made it now, I also appreciate it for its use of turbinado sugar.
And here is a link to Joe Pastry's version of the Golden Lemon Almond Cake recipe, but Rose also shared the recipe with Evan Kleiman on my favorite weekly radio show, KCRW's Good food. Please find the recipe below via Good Food's website:
Rose Levy Beranbaum is the author numerous books on baking. Her most recent is Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. She talked about this cake recipe in a recent episode of Good Food.
Golden Lemon Almond Cake
Serves 12 to 14
2/3 cup blanched sliced almonds
1 1/4 cups, divided turbinado sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup, divided sour cream
1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract
3/8 tsp pure lemon oil, preferably Boyajian
2 cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) plus 3 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons, loosely packed Lemon zest, finely grated
16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter (65 to 75F/19 to 23C)
Preheat the Oven: Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C (325°F/160°C if using a dark pan).
Toast and Grind the Almonds: Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, or until pale gold. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Cool completely. In a food processor, process until fairly fine. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and process until very fine.
Mix the Liquid Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, ¼ cup of the sour cream, the vanilla, and lemon oil just until lightly combined.
Make the Batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the ground almonds, the remaining sugar, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest on low speed for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 ½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Using a spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula.
Bake the Cake: Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the center should read 200 to 205F/93 to 96C.
Make the syrup shortly before the cake is finished baking
1/2 cup Turbinado sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Make the Lemon Syrup: In a 1-cup or larger microwavable glass measure (or a small saucepan over medium heat), heat the sugar and lemon juice, stirring often until the sugar is almost completely dissolved. Do not boil. A few un-dissolved grains form a sparkly, crackly finish to the crust. Cover it tightly to prevent evaporation.
Apply the Syrup and Cool and Unmold the Cake: As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, poke the cake all over with a thin skewer, and brush it with about one-third of the syrup. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert it onto a 10-inch cardboard round or serving plate. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup. Cool completely and wrap airtight.