Almond Cake With Lemon Meringue

 Lemon cake
A few days ago I was watching one of my favorite shows; Spain on the Road Again. The mini series features Mario Batali, Gwyneth Paltrow, Claudia Bassols and Mark Bittman on a culinary road trip across Spain. What a dream! Please take me on the next one!

Any who… this particular episode followed Batali and Bassols as they explored restaurants in Mallorca, Spain. They came across this little cafe named Can Joan de S’aigo — known for their coffee and pastries. Can Joan de S’aigo has been around since 1700! Wowza…they must have done something right with those pastries! I fell in love with their tarta de almendras (almond cake) with lemon meringue topping. So I set out to make my own.

Almond Cake
1 1/3 cups (265g) sugar
8 ounces (225g) almond paste
3/4, plus 1/4 cup (140g total) flour
1 cup (8 ounces, 225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Grease a 9- or 10-inch cake or spring form pan with butter, dust it with flour and tap out any excess. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the sugar, almond paste, and 1/4 cup of flour until the almond paste is finely ground and the mixture resembles sand.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Once the almond paste is completely broken up, add the cubes of butter and the vanilla and almond extracts, then process until the batter is very smooth and fluffy.
5. Add the eggs one at a time, processing a bit before the next addition. After you add all the eggs, the mixture may look curdled. Don’t worry; it’ll come back together after the next step.
6. Add half the flour mixture and pulse the machine a few times, then add the rest, pulsing the machine until the dry ingredients are incorporated, but do not over mix.
7. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake the cake for 65 minutes, or until the top is deep brown and feels set when you press in the center.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and run a sharp knife around the perimeter, freeing the cake from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely in the pan.
Once cool, tap the cake out of the pan, remove the parchment paper, and set on a cake plate until ready to serve.

Lemon Meringue Topping
4 large egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Pinch cream of tartar
Pinch fine salt

For Meringue: Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a mixer’s bowl above the water. Whisk the egg whites, sugar, lemon juice and zest, cream of tarter and salt in the bowl by hand. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat at medium-high speed until meringue is cool and holds stiff peaks, about 5-7 minutes.

To decorate: Using a spoon, offset spatula or piping bag, dollop, spread or pipe meringue on top of each cupcake. Use the back of a spoon to create peaks and valleys in the cupcake as desired

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