I turned away for a moment, to find the matches. The menagerie took advantage of my brief lapse in attention.
It was my birthday. My son was beginning to feel well after having been sick for almost a week. Until then, he had had no interest in baking. But on the day, he was enthusiastic. He did a little stirring from his sick bed (the fold-out couch in the living room). He discovered he was not well enough to sit or stand for long. We made a lemon and almond cake, adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe on page 12 of How To Be A Domestic Goddess. I halved the quantities and omitted the flour. The cake seemed fine without it. We baked it in a 17 cm (7 inch) round tin. It would have been better made days earlier, as Nigella recommended, but our life a few days earlier was not compatible with baking. The cake is certainly more delicious now, and the texture improved with keeping. I find it is best eaten in small pieces, rather like the cakes at one of our favourite cafes: they are served in 4 cm (1.5 inch) squares. I enjoy that amount, the first couple of bites of a conventional piece of cake. It makes me think of advice I once read in a wine column: the first glass of wine is always the best, so why bother with any after that?
Damp Lemon and Almond Cake – the modified recipe
- 110 g unsalted butter (‘softened’ 30 s in microwave, high power)
- 110 g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 110 g ground almonds
- zest & juice of one lemon
- Cream butter and sugar until almost white (I just use a metal spoon).
- Beat in eggs, one at a time (still using the spoon).
- Stir in almonds, then lemon zest and juice.
- Pour into lined tin, bake at 180 C (we used 165 C fan forced, but our oven is strange, so I am providing the advised temperature).
- Check after 40 min, cover with foil if starting to brown but cake is not cooked. Inserted skewer should come out ‘cleanish’. Cake is damp, so a little may stick. Just don’t want it looking like raw dough.
A few days later: