I haven’t been posting for the last few months – I seem to post more when I am working less and vice versa, so this should be taken as a very good sign. On top of making real progress with my PhD, I have been in Riga, Latvia for a conference, back in New York visiting friends and defending my PhD proposal, and tomorrow I am going to Dublin with my mother for a little working holiday. I can’t remember when we last had time to see friends in London – but one of the last times we saw people was at a little dinner party we held, where I made this beautiful cake for dessert.
One of the most wonderful things about a successful dinner party is having large quantities of leftovers to enjoy the following day. We managed to incorporate the leftover cake into our breakfast, lunchtime dessert, afternoon tea, and dinnertime dessert.
Almond and Lemon Cake with Pomegranate Syrup
(From Silvena Rowe, “Feasts”)
For the Syrup
250ml pomegranate juice
4 tbsp runny honey
1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (You should be able to find this in fancy delis or Middle Eastern supermarkets. It is worth tracking down – I promise the next recipe I post will also require it)
For the cake
1 large lemon (make sure the skin is unwaxed)
350g (12.5oz) ground almonds (almond meal)
300g (10.5oz) caster sugar (or white sugar)
115g (4oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
150g (5oz) salted butter (leave a little extra for greasing)
– Remove the butter from the fridge and leave at room temperature so it is not too hard.
– Put a small pot of water on to boil. Once boiling add the lemon, whole (making sure to remove any stickers), and boil for about 30 minutes until the skin is soft. When the lemon is soft, remove from the water and leave to cool.
– Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), making sure there is a rack for the cake half way down.
– Grease a medium sized cake tin, and line with parchment paper, and place to one side.
You will need one medium and one large bowl – make sure you mix the wet ingredients in the larger of the two. Combine the ground almonds, half the sugar, the flour and baking powder in one bowl and stir to combine. Cut your butter into cubes and, in a large bowl, beat together with the other half of the sugar until light and creamy. Beating continuously, add the eggs one at a time, and continue to beat until fully combined.
Your lemon should now be cool enough to handle – place it, whole, in a food processor, and blend into a puree. (I removed some of the seeds during the blending process, but remember that you are meant to blend it whole, including the skin). Mix your lemon puree into your wet ingredients. Fold your dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and pour the whole mixture into your lined cake tin.
Place in the oven for 50-60 minutes. It should look brown when done (a little less than the picture above which was slightly over-done), and an inserted skewer should come out clean.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Alternatively, you can make the syrup in advance and store it in a sealed jar in your fridge until needed – I doubled the quantity made and served half on aubergine and halloumi stacks (recipe to be posted shortly). Combine the pomegranate juice, honey and molasses in a small pan. Heat over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. The honey should be dissolved, the liquid should have reduced in size, and it should have a syrupy consistency.
When the cake is ready leave to cool. (This might be a good time to remove the seeds from your pomegranate and put them to one side). When cool, make several holes across the top of the cake with a long skewer – these will help soak up syrup. Very slowly and carefully pour the syrup over the cake (if you pour in small batches it will get soaked up, if you pour quickly it will overflow and make the floor all sticky). Finally cover with pomegranate jewels and serve. It is a wonderfully moist cake, so serving it with cream is not necessary.