A Moist, Citrus Almond Cake – inspired by Elizabeth David*
Since returning to Cape Town, and winter, I’ve been trying my hand at pastry and cakes, as you may have noticed from my posts and tweets and FB posts. Winter and baking seem to be firm allies. I’m not short on hungry tasters with fussy palates and so it’s been a bit of a wonderland in the kitchen with coconut flour and flakes, almond flour, butter, vanilla and eggs. In winter we’re short on an abundance of fruit, but we do get wonderful citrus.
I used winter ClemenGold citrus, a soft, easy peeling fruit to make the almond cake and the curd. The fruit yields a bit of juice and is sweet, sun-ripened and citrusy with only a mild hint of sharpness. I have cooked and baked with ClemenGolds before, have a look at these- a Pancake Stack Cake with Hot Citrus Compote and a Citrus and Green Apple Chutney.
The cake, much to the delight of a good friend, is gluten free. I haven’t got to the stage where I am roasting my own almonds and grinding them to flour, mainly as almond flour, which isn’t inexpensive, is widely available and preferable to all the work involved. If you can roast and grind the almonds, I think the texture of the cake will be even nicer.
Serve squares of the cake with mighty dollops of sprightly, sunshine-yellow citrus curd lightened with soft folds of whipped cream.
4 large free range eggs, separated
165 ml white or light brown sugar
1/2 t fine salt
3 ClemenGold (or oranges, satsumas or clementines), juices
Zest of 1 Clemengold, grated with microplane or grater
80 ml shredded coconut, pulsed until fine, plus extra for coating pan
250 ml almond flour (ground almonds)
2 T orange blossom water
1/2 t white sugar
1. In a stand mixer or with a handheld blender with whisk attachment beat the egg yolks, sugar and salt until very pale, on medium speed. Takes up to 8 minutes or longer.
2. In the meantime combine citrus juice, zest and shredded coconut with a fork in a medium size mixing bowl. Add the almond flour and orange blossom water and mix.
3. In another bowl that is clean and wiped dry, whisk the egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon sugar with a whisk or handheld beater with whisk attachment until they form stiff peaks – meringue stage, and they remain fixed in the bowl if you flip it over your head.
4. Add egg yolk mixture to flour and mix well. Add a few tablespoons of egg whites to flour and fold gently. Fold remainder of egg whites in two batches all the way through the batter. Don’t over mix. Pour batter into a well greased 20 x 20 cm baking pan, flatten the top with a palette knife. You may want to butter the pan and add a little of the shredded coconut to cover all sides.
5. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set – skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Much depends on your oven.
Allow cake to cool in pan and turn out carefully onto cooling rack. Cake is a little crumbly and delicate.
Serve with citrus curd, whipped cream or creme fraiche.
Whipped Citrus Curd
For the Curd – makes just under a cup
zest of 2 ClemenGolds (or other citrus), grated finely with a microplane
125 ml light brown sugar
185 ml ClemenGold (or other citrus) juice – yields more juice at room temperature
3 large free range eggs
60 ml butter, cold and cut into pieces
For the whip
250 ml fresh cream whipped, and kept cold – best done before serving
1. Add the fine zest to the sugar in a saucepan and mix well with a fork to release the volatile oils. Add juice and turn heat to medium. Allow the sugar to dissolve, stirring.
2. Lower the heat to the lowest setting and keep a whisk close by. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking constantly to keep the sauce smooth. Keep whisking for 10 minutes. You can turn the heat up a little once you note that no curdling has taken place. The curd should thicken after 10 minutes.
3. Add butter, turn heat off and whisk until fully blended. Strain through a sieve and leave to cool. Curd will thicken even further.
4. To make the whip beat the cooled curd with a whisk to loosen. Fold in 2 parts cream to 1 part curd. Mix gently.
Serve over the citrus almond cake, vanilla sponge or atop scones.
Disclaimer: I will be remunerated by ClemenGold for developing these recipes.
*From her book At Elizabeth David’s Table.