Almond and lemon are two great flavors that come together in this amazing cake. I first made this flavorful almond lemon tea cake over 15 years ago and it's become one of my most cherished recipes. The recipe is from Flo Braker's "The Simple Art of Perfect Baking". So imagine my surprise when I found a similar cake being sold at Tartine Bakery (for $3/slice). I ran home and I checked my Tartine Bakery cookbook and, sure enough, the recipe they use is Flo's.
The almond paste makes this cake super moist and rich. If you love almond paste, you will adore this cake. And I really love anything made with almond paste. But the thing that secured this cake a permanent place in my heart is the oh-so-yummy lemon glaze. The glaze shell not only adds a bright flavor to the almond rich cake, but it also helps to seal in the moisture. The glaze is brushed onto the still warm cake, and dries to a lovely, sparkly finish. When you take a bite of this cake, the glaze gives way, almost cracking in your mouth, and releasing a wonderful burst of citrus. If it was socially acceptable, I would slice off all the glazed edges of the loaf to keep for myself, leaving the center almond loaf behind. I could nibble on the edges all day long. I do live in polite society so I share (reluctantly) with others. But I always keep the first slice (the edge slice) for myself.
Almond Lemon Tea Cake
aka Crystal Almond Pound Cake
(adapted from Flo Braker's "The Art of Simple Baking")
(makes one 9x5-inch loaf)
3/4 cup sifted pastry or cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 ounces (3/4 cup) almond paste, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
1 tablespoon finely grated meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven. Preheat to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan; tap out the excess flour.
To make the cake...
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt twice. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla. Whisk to just combine. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste on low speed until pea-size crumbs form, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Slowly add the granulated sugar in a steady stream and beat until incorporated. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes. If you add the sugar too quickly, the almond paste won't break up as well.
almond paste and sugar
On low speed, beat in the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon. This should take about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of bowl.
Increase speed to medium and cream the mixture until lighter in color and fluffy in appearance, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Still on medium speed, slowly pour in the eggs, cautiously at first, tablespoon by tablespoon. After each bit of the eggs have been absorbed, add more. If at any time the mixture appears water or shiny, stop the flow of eggs and increase the speed until a smooth appearance returns. Then decrease the speed to medium and resume adding the eggs.
Continue to cream, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl at least once, until the mixture appears fluffy, velvety and white, and has increased in volume. Including the time to add the eggs, this should take about 2 to 3 minutes.
Fold in the meyer lemon zest. Then fold in the flour mixture.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface gently with an offset spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top springs bake when lightly touched, about 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes.
Make the glaze while the cake is cooling in the pan...
In a bowl, stir together the sugar and meyer lemon juice until smooth.
Set the wire rack over a sheet of parchment paper or foil to catch any drips of glaze. Invert the loaf pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the entire warm cake with the glaze. Let the cake cool completely on the rack, at least 3 hours, or until the glaze has set. The cake is fragile when warm so don’t try to move it.
When the cake is cool, gently transfer it to a serving platter by crisscrossing 2 large icing spatulas or the base of a 2 part tart pan to lift the loaf. Serve at room temperature.
glaze…mmm, mmm, good