This is a variant of Claudia Roden’s famous Orange and almond cake, which I discovered via Nigella’s Clementine cake in How to Eat, and it is Nigella’s suggestion to make it with lemons instead of oranges. Serves 12.
Good as a dessert with raspberries and crème fraîche, or alone with morning coffee.
3 unwaxed lemons
250g caster sugar (or xylitol, see below)
250g ground almonds
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder (can omit)
Put the lemons in a pan, with enough water to just cover and simmer for about an hour and a half until completely soft – check after an hour, as mine were starting to disintegrate after 1½ hours. When the lemons are done, fish them out with a slotted spoon and leave to cool.
Line the base of a 24cm cake tin with greaseproof or baking paper. Do this even if you’re using a silicon cake mould, as I was, or you will find it difficult to unmould this cake intact, something I discovered to my cost on a previous occasion! Heat the oven to 190º C/170º C Fan/Mark 5.
When the lemons are cool enough to handle, cut in quarters and extract the pips (this is important). Then put the lemons, peel and all, into the blender or food processor and whizz until smooth. I have done this by hand too – just chop it to a pulp on a large board.
Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat lightly. Stir in the sugar, ground almonds and baking powder, then mix in the lemon pulp. Tip into the prepared tin and bake for 40-50 mins until a skewer comes out clean and the top is springy when lightly pressed. Using a fan oven mine was done after 40 minutes, but the original recipe says an hour (covering the top with greaseproof after 40 minutes to stop it browning too much) so keep an eye on it to see how long it needs in your oven. Leave to cool in the tin before unmoulding.
Nigella suggests adding a lemon icing – icing sugar mixed to a paste with lemon juice and a little water – but I just dusted it with icing sugar. Next time I might try spiking the cake when warm and pouring over the juice of a lemon mixed with a little icing sugar to accentuate the lemon flavour, as the lemon version is less moist than the original orange one. You can substitute xylitol for the sugar in this recipe to make it sugar-free, though it doesn’t brown as well. This cake is dairy and gluten-free, but I have also made a totally vegan (i.e. no eggs) Lemon and almond drizzle cake.