I recently bought John Whaite’s fab new book Perfect Plates In 5 Ingredients…in which each recipe has just 5 ingredients (plus the essentials of olive oil/butter/salt/pepper). The more baking and cooking I do, the more I love a straighforward recipe with as few ingredients as possible. As soon as I see a recipe with a huge list of ingredients I immediately go off the idea and turn the page. I have enough stress in my life, I don’t need food to be an added tress, and I certainly don’t need any more jars or packets taking up room in my kitchen cupboards. So this book is perfect for me.
I recently had a (very rare) free afteroon and I fancied some cake. I was flicking through Perfect Plates and I realised I had all the ingredients to hand for John’s Lemon & Rosemary Almond Cake. What a treat! This cake is absolutely delicious. Its so moist and dense, and the zest of the lemon is complimented beautifully by the rosemary. I had four slices of it that afternoon, then took it into work the next day and it disappeared almost immediately. However, it would keep in an airtight tin for a good week if you wanted to make it in advance.
Ingredients (serves 8)
6 large eggs
400g caster sugar
3 large lemons
300g ground almonds
2 sprigs of rosemary
Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3. Grease and line with baking paper a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
Separate 5 of the eggs placing the whites into one bowl and the yolks into another. Put the remaining whole egg into the bowl with the yolks and add 300g of the sugar and the zest of all 3 lemons.
Whisk the yolks and sugar until the sugar more or less dissolves into the yolks, then beat in the almonds. This will be an almost impossibly thick batter, but that is normal.
Using a clean whisk, whisk the egg whites to fairly stiff peaks. Scoop one third of the egg white into the yolk mixture and beat vigorously to slacken.
Gently fold the remaining egg white into the batter using a spatula or large metal spoon, being careful not to deflate the whites. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.
Bake for 45–50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out fairly clean – there may be the odd moist crumb on there.
While the cake bakes, make the syrup. Put the remaining sugar into a saucepan with the juice of all 3 lemons, the water and the rosemary sprigs. Bring to a boil, stirring. Boil for 1 minute, then set aside until the cake is baked.
As soon as the baked cake comes out of the oven, stab the cake repeatedly with a skewer, then pour the syrup over the top and leave it to soak in while the cake cools completely, in the tin.
I personally couldn’t wait for the cake to cool before diving into it. The smell is glorious and eating a slice of it whilst its still warm is heavenly.