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Lemon-Almond Cake with Candied Lemon

Lemon-Almond Cake with Candied Lemon


Recipe by Sarah Copeland @edibleliving

Come spring, just about everyone we know craves a bright, lemony sweet. Though we love the deep, puckery lemon finish of, say, a lemon bar, we find them a bit fussy and often sweeter than necessary. This cake, inspired by a classic from dessert queen Maida Heatter, delivers the same overtly lemony flavor but without the cloying sweetness, and with much less work. It’s also beautiful!

We like to mix all-purpose flour with almond flour and fine cornmeal or semolina for a texture that’s irresistibly tender. Make sure to brush on the glaze while the cake is still warm, which helps it absorb. You can serve this cake unadorned—it’s delicious all on its own—but if you have the time, the finish of shingled candied lemons really sets this dessert apart.


For the cake:
Fine dry breadcrumbs, for dusting the pan
1½ cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour 
1 cup almond flour
½ cup cornmeal or semolina flour (use cornmeal if you’re making this gluten-free)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1    cup whole milk or buttermilk
2    tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)

For the glaze:
⅔ cup sugar
⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Candied Lemons (recipe follows), for decorating


1.    Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the lower third. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan or a 9-inch tube pan and dust with breadcrumbs, tapping out any excess.

2.    In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

3.    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until well incorporated, 3 minutes more. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping between each addition.

4.    With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the side of the bowl between additions. Add the lemon zest and mix gently to just incorporate.

5.    Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 65 to 70 minutes.

6.    Cool the cake in the pan for about 5 minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack. When the cake is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a platter.

7.    Make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and lemon juice and brush it all over the still-warm cake. Let the cake cool completely and top with shingles of freshly candied lemons. Cut into slices and serve.

Candied Lemons

2 to 3 Meyer lemons or regular lemons, preferably organic, washed 
½ cup sugar

1.    Preheat the broiler to low with the rack at least 8 inches away from the heat. Slice the lemons as thin as possible without breaking them (they should remain round, with flesh and skin intact).

2.    Place the lemon slices on a wire rack set over a sheet pan and sprinkle generously with sugar (some will fall onto the pan, but try to keep it mostly on the lemons).

3.    Broil, watching very closely and rotating the pan as needed so they cook evenly, until the lemons are uniformly golden and the flesh is dry and shiny, 1 to 3 minutes.