Almond and lemon cake

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May 12, 2013 by dgarnett2013

Almond and lemon cake: Rory O’Connell’s Master It. Adapted from Jane Grigson’s Good Things. 


This cake is almost like a biscuit. Great with tea or coffee.

  • 110g unsalted butter, melted and cooled – plus extra butter for brushing
  • 130g unskinned almonds
  • 115g icing sugar, sieved
  • 75g plain flour, sieved
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 3 free range egg yolks – duck’s or hen’s
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon


  • 175g icing sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 tabs warm water


  • Candied orange, lemon or clementine zest or dried cherries.


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease an 18cm round cake tin by lightly brushing it with a little melted butter, and line the base with a circle of baking parchment.

To peel the almonds, place them in a small saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 1 minute. Drain, then rinse in cold water. Drain again and squeeze the skins off the almonds. Pop them on to a clean dry cloth and dry them off. Place the almonds in a food processor and grind to a coarse and gritty powder.

Put the almonds into a bowl with the icing sugar, flour and a pinch of salt and mix well. Add the egg yolks, lemon zest and the cooled but still liquid melted butter and mix well with a wooden spoon – 30 seconds should do it.

almondandlmeon3 almondand lemon2

Place the somewhat firm mixture in the prepared tin and gently flatten the top with your outstretched fingers. Tap the tin gently on your work surface to ensure that the mixture is evenly spread through the tin and there are no trapped air bubbles.

Bake the cake in the oven for 40 minutes. The surface will be golden coloured and should feel gently firm, but not hard, to indicate that it is cooked. Place the tin on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the sides and turn the cake out on the rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the lemon zest and half the warm water. Using a wooden spoon, start drawing in the icing sugar and slowly an icing will start to form. Add more warm water as necessary and with caution to create an icing that when lifted from the bowl will fall back in, in a slowly disappearing trail. If the icing is too think due to too much water begin added, add a little more icing sugar to correct it.

Place the cake on an upturned plate and spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake.  I use a palette knife dipped in boiling water and then dried to help spread it.

Sprinkle the candied zest or place the cherries on top of the cake while the icing is still molten. Allow the cake to sit and settle for a few minutes before transferring it to a pretty serving plate.

Store the cake at room temperature until you are ready to serve it, and pass a bowl of softly whipped cream separately – if using as a dessert.

Made the day Grandpa came to stay.


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