The Cottingley Fairies would eat this cake. After a mad day flitting around some rhododendron bushes, they'd alight on top of the glossy creme fraiche icing and just dig in. It's a recipe from The Caker by Jordan Rondel which I reviewed here.
I've baked this cake twice so far and it's consistently easy to make, easy to make look fancy, and easy to eat. There's some pretty flash ingredients involved, so make sure it's pay day or leave for a special occasion. It's dense, buttery, and moist. If you don't like the sound of rosewater flavoured icing, I think you should try this anyway. The flavours sounds intense but the end result is actually quite subtle.
It's the first time I've baked with ground almonds. Actually, it's the first time I've successfully baked with ground almonds. My first go was a batch of chamomile & honey muffins except I didn't have any ground almonds only a humongous pack of slivered almonds. I dumped the entire pack into a food processor, give it a whizz, shrugged and thought, sure! why not?
Here's a reason why not, guys. Whizzed slivered almonds are the texture of...hmmm...rolled oats? Or the ground up bits of chips at the very bottom of a chippy packet. Actual ground almonds have the same texture as flour. So...that's a pretty big diff.
Also, a total genius friend of ours bought us the Salter electronic scale from our Mildred & Co wedding registry. I truly recommend getting one if you've just been making do with measuring cups and frantic internet searches to convert recipes in grams. It makes baking a lot easier. And when you're slowly tipping stuff on top of the scale, you can pretend you're a shopkeeper in a stripey apron manning the counter of an old-timey general goods store and ringing purchases up on a fancy gold cash register. Awesome
Lemony Almond Cake with Rose Water Creme Fraiche Icing
(from Jordan Rondel's The Caker. Buy here)
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g plain flour
225g ground almonds (I got mine from the bulk bins at New World. Be prepared for mild sticker shock. Countdown has cheaper bags)
zest and juice of 1 lemon (the lemon flavour of the cake is subtle so if you wanted, I reckon a few more splashes of lemon juice wouldn't hurt the recipe)
200g creme fraiche
30g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp rose water
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
I used pistachios, Hazer Baba rose turkish delight, fresh flowers for decoration, dried lavender, and sugared mimosa balls. A sprinkling of edible flowers would be extra pretty. The recipe suggests lemon curd but I hate that stuff so I stayed well away.
Preheat oven to 180C fan bake. Line a 22cm diameter cake tin. Cream butter and sugar. I use an electric mixer. I'm paranoid about creaming butter and sugar so I do it for ages to make sure it's light and fluffy. The lighter and fluffier it is, the lighter and fluffier the cake will be.
Beat in eggs, one at a time. Don't over beat. Just chill out. Add vanilla extract. I always like to separate my dried stuff so in a separate bowl, put the flour, almonds, lemon zest, and juice together. Gradually fold all of this into the creamed butter and sugar.
Pour batter in cake tine. Recipe says bake for 45 minutes but I've baked this in two different ovens and both times, it required a lot less time (20-30 minutes). So just keep an eye on it.
Once done, cool on a cake rack. Put all your icing stuff together in a bowl and beat only it's smooth and glossy. Don't be impatient and put the icing on when the cake's still warm. The icing is gloppy to start with and only gets a teeny bit harder later on. I like my icing to run down the edges of the cake but that's just me.
If you're not the type of person who has dried lavender and sugared mimosa balls casually lying around in your pantry (mine are from here), then just bung more flowers on. That's what a Cottingley fairy would do.