If you’re longing for some sunshine or need a little cheering up, then I can definitely recommend this cake. To me, it tastes like pure sunshine in cake form – moist, crumbly, buttery and very lemony. It’s based on a recipe by Salvatore De Riso, the celebrated pastry chef and baker from the Amalfi coast.
There are a lot of lemons needed for this cake, but then there are a lot of lemons on the Amalfi coast so that’s the way it has to be. In fact, it calls for a fair bit of candied lemon peel and I know that candied peel is likely to make some people avoid this cake. I used to feel that way thanks to the poor quality candied peel that I’d eaten in the past. Buy good quality or, better still, make your own candied peel, however, and the taste and texture are so much better. For use in baking I prefer to avoid using most of the pith and so it will take 3 or 4 lemons, depending on their size, to make enough candied peel for this cake
You may well have your own method of making candied peel but, briefly, here’s what I do. Remove just the yellow peel (not the pith) with a vegetable peeler and add it to a pan of cold water. Bring the pan to a boil, remove the peel and discard the water. Repeat the boiling process two more times and then simmer the peel in a strong sugar syrup (roughly 2 parts sugar to 1 part water) for 10 minutes or so until the peel is transparent. (If you do include more of the pith, then it will take longer). Toss the peel lightly in caster sugar once it’s cold and store it in an airtight container until needed.
Serve this cake with coffee or as a dessert and, if you’re anything like me, feel instantly happier from the first mouthful.
150 g softened butter (plus a bit more for the tin)
160 g icing sugar
Zest of 2 lemons, very finely chopped
60 g candied lemon peel, finely chopped
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
80 g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
50 g potato flour
100 g ground almonds
100 ml milk
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Butter and line a 20 cm round cake tin or, if you’re like me, just use a silicone mould.
Cream the icing sugar and butter together thoroughly. Briefly mix in the lemon zest, candied peel and vanilla paste and then gradually stir in the eggs. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and potato flour. Add half of the ground almonds and stir in gently. Add half of the milk and do the same. Repeat with the remainder of the ground almonds and the milk.
Put the mixture into the prepared tin and level it. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes. A knifepoint should come out clean when the cake is ready.
Let the cake cool down in the tin before removing it. Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar if you feel so inclined.
I'm entering this post in a new blogging challenge starting this month - Alphabakes hosted by Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker (the host for February's challenge) and Caroline from Caroline Makes. Each month a random letter of the alphabet is selected and the challenge is to bake with an ingredient starting with that letter. Happily this month's letter is L and that says lemons to me.