Can anybody tell me how it got to be JULY 9th?! It feels like yesterday I was buttoning up my peacoat to go outside, except that really, that was MONTHS ago now! I think the summer goes by about 10x as fast as the rest of the seasons, because before I even realize it’s here, it’s already half over. Anyway, that of course has nothing to do with this lovely lemon cake, I’m just feeling a little cheated at how fast this summer is going.
Sooo… about the cake! I made this cake a month or two ago, but am so far behind on posts I’m just now getting around to sharing it. I’ve been working a lot with lemon lately, and the more I bake with it, the more in love I fall. It’s such a lovely, bright, fresh and zesty citrus flavor, great on it’s own and a wonderful enhancement for so many other flavors. However, I’ve never had lemons that tasted like they do in this cake.
Caramelizing lemons brings out a subtle bitterness that is actually quite nice, and it gives the lemon flavor so much depth. Gone are the puckeringly sour notes, and in it’s place, you get a really rich and caramelized citrus flavor. The cake itself is slightly nutty from the almonds, and has a really wonderful texture – dense yet tender, with a generous crumb. The sour cream lends a very subtle tanginess, and keeps the cake nice and moist, while the lemon caramel holds the whole cake together. It seems like a very sophisticated dessert! Wonderful alongside a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
I have started eating some gluten again, so I would be very interested to try this cake with regular flour. However, if you are gluten-free, this is a wonderful cake alternative that really doesn’t seem gluten-free at all. And regardless of whether you eat gluten or not, you should try caramelizing lemons! It’s something I never would have done without this recipe, but now I’d love to try it again.
Caramelized Lemon Cake
adapted from The Gluten Free Baker
1 1⁄2 sticks butter, softened
3⁄4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 large Eggs
heaping 3⁄4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1⁄4 tsp xanthan gum (I omitted this because I didn’t have it, I think the recipe is fine without it)
3⁄4 cup ground almonds
3 Tbsp sour cream
Caramelized Lemon Ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
a 10-in cast iron tarte tatin pan or a similar heavy, flameproof pan, greased
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
1) To make the caramelized lemons, put the sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat until the sugar melts and turns golden brown. Do not stir while cooking, but gently swirl the pan from time to time to prevent the sugar from burning. Watch closely once the sugar has melted as it will caramelize quickly. Once golden brown, pour immediately into the bottom of the pan.
2) While the sugar and lemon juice are cooking, grate the zest from 3 of the lemons and reserve for the cake batter. Cut the top and bottom from all 5 lemons and stand them upright on a chopping board. Using a sharp knife slice away the peel and pith in vertical slices and repeat until the lemons are peeled. Cut each lemon into 6 slices, removing seeds with a sharp knife. It’s a little bit tricky to slice the lemons, as the juices release and they get a bit messy, so just do your best! Arrange the lemon slices on top of the caramel in a circular pattern, taking care as the caramel will be hot. Set aside.
3) In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs and beat again until the batter is light and airy. Sift in the flour and baking powder and add the ground almonds, sour cream and reserved lemon zest. Fold in the dry ingredients until everything is well incorporated.
4) Spoon the batter into the pan with the lemon slices. Bake in the preheated oven for 30–40 minutes, until the cake springs back to the touch and a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes then invert the cake onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cold.
This cake will keep for up to 2 days if stored in an airtight container.