Sicilian Lemon & Almond Cake
I have very fond memories of this cake as my godmother would always make it for big family events like birthdays or Christmas. Sadly, as we all grew older, the old traditions went away but especially around this time of the year, this cake comes back to my mind every now and then. The way the lemon juice brightens the frosting up is incredible.
So this year, I decided to do something about it and finally recreate it. I've watched my godmother make the frosting for this cake many years ago, unfortunately I did not have a recipe for the actual cake layers but a mere memory of how it looked and tasted. Luckily I do own a whole bunch of cookbooks, so I studied all kinds of cake recipes until I finally settled on a variation of a classic yellow cake. I'm switching the cake flour with a mixture of all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and almond flour. I've also done some experiments with respect to the almond crust on top of each layer, only to find out that the simplest method works best here.
For the American trying to make this recipe, obtaining Sahnesteif is probably going to be the biggest challenge. As I've mentioned, you can find it on Amazon or in specialty grocery / baking stores. However, I just bring mine back from Germany, every time I go of have visitors bring me some.
Good luck making this cake, I promise the effort is more than worth it.
- For the Cake
- Unsalted European Butter - 2 sticks / 225g
- Granulated Sugar - 1 3/4 cups / 350g
- Pure Vanilla Extract - 1 tbsp
- Whole Eggs - 4, large
- Eggyolks - 2
- All Purpose Flour - 1 1/2 cups / 200g
- Corn Starch - 3/4 cup / 100g
- Almond Flour - 1 cup / 100g
- Baking Powder - 1 tbsp
- Salt - 1/2 tsp
- Buttermilk - 1 1/2 cups
- Slithered Almonds - 3/4 cups
- Granulated Sugar - 3 tbsp
- For the Frosting
- Heavy Whipping Cream - 5 cups
- Granulated Sugar - 1 cup / 200g
- Sahnesteif - 8 packages
- Lemon Juice - 1 cup / 240ml, freshly squeezed and strained
- For Decorating
- Candied Lemon Slices - or
- Lemon Slices
- Make sure all your cake ingredients are at room temperature.
- Prepare three 9 inch cake pans: butter them, dust them with flour, and put a round parchment paper cutout into the bottom. If you don't have multiple baking pans, you can bake the cakes one after the other, cleaning and preparing the pan after each use.
- Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, whip butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. That should take around 7 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs and eggyolks, one at a time. Make sure, each is well incorporated before adding the next.
- Beat in the Vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and almond flour together.
- With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, incorporate and add 1/2 of the buttermilk. Repeat until all ingredients are incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans, sprinkle 1/4 cup of slithered almonds over the top and dust with 1 tbsp of granulated sugar. Bake at 350° for 18 - 23 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Completely cool the cakes on a wire rack before moving on with the frosting.
- For the icing, mix 5 packages of Sahnesteif with 3/4 cups of granulated sugar. Make sure, your whipped cream is very cold, ideally, you put the bowl of the electric mixer into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. This is especially critical, when it is very warm in your kitchen.
- With the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream on medium low for 2 minutes, then slowly pour in the sugar and Sahnesteif mixture. Once all is incorporated, set the speed to high and beat cream until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat!
- Mix the remaining 3 packages of Sahnesteif with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
- Turn the mixer back to low and in a constant slow stream, mix in the lemon juice. As soon as the lemon juice is mixed in, add the sugar and Sahnesteif mix again.
- Beat on high until everything is well incorporated and stiff peaks form again. Do not overbeat.
- Fill about 2 cups of the frosting into a piping bag for decoration and put into the fridge.
- Put the first cake layer onto your cake stand and add 1/3 of the frosting onto it. With an offset spatula, distribute it evenly all the way to the edges. Repeat with the remaining 2 layers.
- Once all layers are stacked and frosted (I do not frost the sides of the cake because I think it looks nicer that way), use the remaining whipped frosting pipe nice decorations on top of it.
- Decorate with candied lemon slices or - if you don't want to add that effort - fresh lemon slices and chill until serving.