Lemon Curd Almond Cake (gluten free)
For a stunning finale to Easter dinner, or another special meal, present this luxurious dessert. Tangy lemon curd and whipped cream make a sumptuous filling and topping for the delicate almond sponge cake, and fresh berries are a beautiful embellishment.
This recipe is a great example of the naturally gluten-free desserts I love, and I created it for my latest book, Gluten-Free Baking. There are no flavorless, drying white starches that are ubiquitous in gluten-free desserts, no unusual grains to shop for, no xanthan gum, no special techniques. It’s a traditional, straightforward, and very tasty nut sponge cake: almond meal folded into a big cloud of whipped eggs and sugar. Simple, pure, and delicious.
I fashioned the lemon curd and lemon whipped cream filling and topping to show off the beautiful floral fragrance and gentle tartness of Meyer lemons, which are in season now, however, any lemon will be terrific here. Steve can’t resist a lemon dessert, and our 1-year-old Meyer lemon tree is loaded with fruit, so I have at least 2 good reasons for making this beauty again.
Dede Wilson featured the recipe on her informative and inspiring baking website, Bakepedia. She also published an interview with me, so check out the links if you need more convincing to whip up the cake this weekend.
Lemon Curd Almond Cake
Makes 8 servings
½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup fresh lemon juice
1½ tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2¼ cups almond meal
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 large eggs, separated
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Lemon Whipped Cream
1 cup chilled whipping cream
½ cup powdered sugar
For the curd: place a fine sieve over a medium bowl. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the butter, granulated sugar, lemon juice and zest. Stir over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture just comes to a simmer. Whisk the eggs in another medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the hot lemon mixture. Return the mixture to the same saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens (do not boil). Immediately pour the curd through the sieve, pressing all the curd through. Cool slightly. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the curd and refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight.
For the cake: preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter 2 8-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper rounds and butter the parchment. In a small bowl, combine the almond meal, baking soda and cinnamon and mix to blend. In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, ⅓ cup of the granulated sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the egg whites. Using medium speed, beat until frothy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until the whites form soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the remaining ⅓ cup of granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Using a wooden spoon, stir the almond mixture into the yolks (the mixture will be very thick). Add about ⅓ of the whites and mix in to lighten. Fold in the remaining whites in 2 additions. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans.
Bake the cakes until brown, springy in the center, and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks. Using a small, sharp knife, cut around the cake edges. Cool completely in the pans.
Transfer ⅔ cup of the curd to a small bowl and reserve to spread over the cake.
For the lemon whipped cream: In a medium bowl, combine the cream and powdered sugar. Beat until peaks form. Fold ⅓ of the whipped cream into the remaining lemon curd to lighten. Then fold in the remaining cream.
Place 1 cake layer rounded side up on a platter. Spread the reserved lemon curd over the top of the cake. Mound a few big spoonfuls of the whipped cream over the curd. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Mound the remaining whipped cream over the top of the cake. Place a few toothpicks in the top of the cake, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh berries before serving.
Photo by Annabelle Breakey