Little Lemon Almond Cake

Last week, my mom turned 73, and she and our nephew Roman, who was in town visiting for the week, came over for dinner. Roman got his own batch of chocolate cupcakes, but since Genny isn’t a chocolate fan, I decided to whip up this little, four-serving lemon almond cake for her. I’m pleased to say she really enjoyed it.

This makes one single-layer, 6-inch cake, so you could easily double the recipe for a two-layer cake. The cake itself is a denser cake that is better paired with drizzle-style icing than a buttercream frosting, but you could still frost it with buttercream if you prefer. This cake would also be great with some whipped cream and fresh berries.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • Zest of 1/2 one medium lemon
  • About 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4-5 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Toasted flaked almonds, for decorating

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 6-inch round cake pan, line with a parchment circle, and lightly grease the parchment.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until very well-blended. Add egg, almond extract, and lemon zest and beat well to combine, scraping the sides of your bowl a few times.

Add flour and milk alternatively in two batches, beginning and ending with the flour and beating until completely combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 18-22 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow cakes to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the drizzle icing, combine powdered sugar, almond extract, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a small bowl. Mix until smooth, adding more lemon juice as necessary to reach a thick but pourable drizzling consistency. Pour over cake and spread with an offset spatula so drizzle just starts to drip down the sides of the cake. Add toasted flaked almonds, if desired.

Store, covered, at room temperature for 2-3 days. Makes 4 servings.

Valentine Cake

Valentine CakeWith Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to whip up a cake for two, something that would be just enough for dessert for Mike and me this weekend. This recipe, which I adapted from Taste of Home, looks like it’ll be the perfect serving size for a few generous slices each.

To frost this lovely cake, I used a pink to red ombré design for Valentine’s Day. I do wish I’d extended the lightest pink down the sides just slightly, so the next time I make a cake like this I’ll definitely do so. Also, this time, I used a crumb layer when frosting; I don’t usually do that, but it seemed like a good idea for this cake. For more info on the importance of the crumb layer, check out this post from the experts at Wilton.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

*Reserve your egg yolks and whip up some lemon curd, which could make a tasty filling for this cake and would look great with yellow ombré frosting!

For the vanilla almond buttercream

  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon almond extract
  • 3-4 teaspoons milk
  • Red liquid and gel food coloring**

**I used red liquid for the light pink layer and red gel for the dark pink and red layers, but you could just use gel for all three.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray two 6-inch round baking pans with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour, until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of your bowl very well to make sure you get any dry bits.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean; cakes will turn a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately remove from cake pans, cooling completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, in a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute, then add salt and beat another minute.

Add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine. Add milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach a fluffy, spreadable consistency.

Divide frosting into four portions; a small portion of white for the filling and crumb layer (or, you could use pale pink for this – I didn’t think of that until after I was done!) then three equal portions for the light pink, dark pink, and red.

Place a small blob of frosting on your cake stand and place the bottom cake layer on it; this will help your cake stay in place during frosting. Spread the top with an even layer of white frosting, then top with second layer and frost with remaining white frosting, creating a crumb layer.

Tint your remaining frosting; I used two drops of red liquid food coloring for my light pink layer, then used red gel for my dark pink and red layers. Mix your color in a little bit at a time; you can always make it darker, but you can’t make it lighter.

Fit three piping bags with large plain tips and fill each bag with a different color. Beginning with the dark red, pipe bands around the bottom 1 1/2 inches of the cake, then continue with the dark pink and finish with the light pink on the top. Using a small offset spatula, smooth out each color band, starting from the light pink and working your way down. The colors will blend into one another, and that’s exactly what you want.

Store at room temperature for up to 3 days.