Monday, 28 January 2013

Limoncello almond poppyseed cake

Here’s another of my occasional culinary forays, my adaptation of this recipe for a wheat-free cake:
  • 4 eggs, 3 of which separated
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello* (limoncino) or zest of 3 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 100g brown sugar, split into halves
  • 170g almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • icing sugar (powdered, for Americans) to decorate
Whisk the 3 egg yolks with one whole egg and half the sugar until smooth and light. The trick here is to keep one egg whole so the mix is less likely to collapse compared with whisking all 4 egg whites separately.

Thoroughly mix the baking powder and almond flour. Add the limoncello (or lemon zest), poppy seeds and sweetened egg yolks, and mix thoroughly until smooth. Aside from adding flavour and texture, distribution of the poppy seeds is a good indicator of whether everything is thoroughly combined. For the alcohol intolerant: the alcohol should all cook out.

Whisk the 3 egg whites until very frothy, then gradually add the rest of the sugar, while continually whisking. Stop at the soft peak stage (the mix just holds its shape when you lift the whisk). Some tricks of the trade: use an unlined copper bowl, and whisk the egg whites at room temperature. Egg white is hard to aerate from cold, and a copper bowl makes whisking much more effective and more stable without additives like vinegar or salt.

Incorporate the egg white into the almond mix slowly at first, until you’ve added about half the egg white, then gently fold in the rest so you don't flatten out all the air.

Put a disk of non-stick baking paper in the bottom of a spring-form cake tin, and butter the sides. Slide the mix in and bake in a 175°C oven for 30 to 35 minutes (checking at the end that a skewer comes out clean).

Cool the cake on a rack, baking paper down.

When the cake is cool, ease off the baking paper and decorate with a little icing sugar (put about half a teaspoon in a strainer and smack the side lightly to spread it evenly; this is best done just before serving as the cake is quite moist and will absorb the sugar).

*Edit: I used 4 on my first try but it came out a little too lemony.