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Lemon Almond Raspberry Layer Cake

January 17, 2019

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It’s dinner party season*, the season for heavy drinking and eating, the season for trying our best to be happy indoors. Dinner parties need, in my opinion, either the simplest desserts (a huge block of Callebaut chocolate and a knife) or the most comforting (bread pudding with whiskey sauce, hot-out-the-oven chocolate chip cookies with spiked milk, layer cake).

Dinner party season tends to coincide with lemon cake season. If you’ve ever read this blog before, you know that lemon cakes are kind of my thing. (Actually, citrus cakes in general.) The craving tends to hit at this time of year: the darkest, dreariest time, when citrus reminds people that not all places in the world are cold and inhospitable. We grew somewhere, they say, far better than wherever we are now.

In this specific iteration of my usual wintery citrusy cake craving, I wanted a lemon cake that wasn’t fluffy or frivolous, something with weight and import. I wanted it to have layers and frosting and maybe – no, definitely – a layer of raspberry jam in the middle.

The cake I got was everything I wanted:

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a lemony cake made with some almond meal for a little flavor and a lot of texture and depth, filled with a (butter-free!) frosting that holds its own.

I finally settled on a cake recipe loosely based on this one. (All the cakes on Ana’s blog look next level amazing…just look at this Oreo cake! Plus she explains a lot of the chemistry behind baking, which isn’t just cool, it’s incredibly helpful no matter how skilled a baker you think you are.) While I didn’t copy the recipe exactly, I did copy its use of weight rather than volume measurements and, at least for baking, I really recommend you, do, too. All you need is a cheap digital kitchen scale – they’re about $10 on Amazon – and I promise all your baking will be better. The American way of measuring out all our ingredients in cups is so inaccurate and because baking is such a science, every gram or ounce really makes a difference.

The only issue I had was a practical one – how to fill the cake with both jam and frosting without the jam squirting out the sides? There are many things I know I could have done – I could have piped frosting along the edges of the inside layer to make a “dam” to keep the jam from running out, I could have cooked the jam down or added a bit of cornstarch to make it less runny. But I’m lazy, so my jam oozed out the sides a bit. And you know what? We didn’t mind at all.

 

I’m definitely going to make this again and soon. It’s dinner party season after all.

*Who am I kidding? It’s always dinner party season around here 🙂

LEMON ALMOND CAKE WITH RASPBERRY JAM & CREAM CHEESE MASCARPONE FROSTING

I finally settled on a cake recipe loosely based on this one. (All the cakes on Ana’s blog look next level amazing…just look at this Oreo cake! Plus she explains a lot of the chemistry behind baking, which isn’t just cool, it’s incredibly helpful no matter how skilled a baker you think you are.) While I didn’t copy the recipe exactly, I did copy its use of weight rather than volume measurements and I really recommend you, do, too. All you need is a cheap digital kitchen scale – they’re about $10 on Amazon – and I promise all your baking will be better. The American way of measuring out all our ingredients in cups is so inaccurate and because baking is such a science, every gram or ounce really makes a difference. Makes gorgeously flavored and textured cake for 12. Feel free to use the cake recipe without the frosting – it’d be perfect with nothing but some jam on top. 

Lemon Almond Cake

makes enough for 2 x 8″ layer cakes

  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • 235 grams sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest from 3 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • juice from 3 lemons
  • 120 grams sour cream or yogurt
  • 50 grams milk
  • 190 grams flour
  • 100 grams ground almonds (also called almond meal)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon – (don’t forget this! It adds so much.)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup raspberry jam, for filling (you can substitute any jam or curd you like)

Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F. Grease and line two same-sized cake tin with with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, ground almonds, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. (If you can, sift it.)

In a small bowl, combine yogurt, milk and lemon juice and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. (approx. 3 min). Add the lemon zest and the eggs. Add the tiniest bit of almond extract and the vanilla extract. Beat another minute or two until really pale.

Alternating between them (and starting and ending with the flour mixture), add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter mixture with a wooden spoon, gently mixing to combine after each addition.

Divide batter between your two prepared tins and bake 20 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the palest part comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Allow cakes to cool for at least 15 minutes in their pans then remove and allow to cool completely before filling and frosting.

Make the frosting while the cakes cool. To frost the cakes, top one layer with 1/3 of the frosting (recipe below) and raspberry jam (cooked down with some cornstarch if you’re worried about it running out). Put the second layer on top and frost with the rest of the frosting. There are really fancy ways to do this but, as you can see by my photos, I did not do them.

Lemon Almond Cream Cheese & Mascarpone Frosting

makes enough for a generous amount to fill and cover a cake with two layers

  • 600 g cream cheese
  • 200 g mascarpone
  • 60 g powdered sugar, sifted
  • juice of one lemon (and zest too if you want!)
  • a couple drops almond extract (really just the tiniest amount possible)
  • a big splash of vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheese, mascarpone and powdered sugar together until well combined. Add the other frosting ingredients to taste. Adding more powdered sugar will result in a stiffer frosting.

 

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