Like many people, I am fortunate enough not to have food allergies, so my cooking can revolve around whatever I fancy, and usually does. So, it is not often that you will see foods for restricted diets on these pages. However, I am also very careful to ensure that I cater for friends who are restricted in what they eat either by choice or for health reasons, and that when I do make special food that it has as much flavour as possible. I want people to feel that they have feasted rather than been subjected to bland food made with little imagination.
This cake is great for people who cannot eat gluten, as it is made entirely from ground almonds and egg. I have a couple of friends for whom this cake, or a variation of it, gets made regularly.
I always use whole almonds, and grind them up myself in my food processor. That way, you can make the meal as fine or as rustic as you like. I usually leave the skins on the almonds, because it does add to the flavour, and I like it that way.
Most recently, I made this cake for a friend of my Mum’s. They met in a maternity ward when they were having their eldest offspring (me, in Mum’s case), so I guess that you could say that I have known her for my whole life. She recently did me a huge favour, by taking up a bridesmaid’s dress that I am to wear at my Sister’s forthcoming wedding, and I wanted a way to thank her.
She has a restricted diet, and cannot eat flour, sugar, chocolate, or too much fibre. I know that she loves sweet things, however, and I thought that this would be the ideal cake for her needs. And what better way to say thank you than to show someone that you have thought of them?
In some ways this is a tried and tested recipe, but I needed to use a sweetener, and reduce the amount I used. I also removed the almond skins, by soaking them in boiling water, and popping them out of their skins once the water had cooled enough for me to put a hand in.
I was pleased with the result, and I thought that I would share this recipe with you, in case you want to bake something thoughtful for a friend with similar restrictions. After all dietary restrictions should not mean repetitive and restrictive diets.
Mum even liked this cake, despite not liking almonds. Mum’s friend was delighted with both the thought and the flavour.
Update: My friend tried this cake with ground almonds, and has pointed out that the amount needs adjusting for the much finer variety. I have reflected this in the ingredients list. Thanks to Julie for giving me some valuable feedback on my recipe, and for testing a new amount.
Recipe: Lemon Torte
300 g whole almonds (or 100 g ground almonds, if using them)
4 eggs, separated
100 g sugar substitute. I used Half Spoon by Tate and Lyle, which does contain some glucose, you may need a different one.
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp sugar substitute
Heat the oven to 160°C.
Line a 20 cm spring form cake tin with baking paper. You don’t need to line the sides if you don’t want to, but make sure you grease them if you don’t choose to line them. You should line the base, or you will have to serve it on the metal tin base, which isn’t a good look
Remove the almond skins, by soaking them in boiling water. Once the water is cool enough to get your hand in, they should pop out of their skins easily if you apply a little squeeze. Or you can buy blanched almonds, and skip this step altogether.
I personally prefer the cake to have a bit of texture, so I grind up the almonds myself by pulsing them in a food processor, until they are a coarse meal. You can also buy ground almonds, which are much finer. Use these if you like.
Beat together the egg yolks, lemon zest and the sugar substitute until pale and creamy. Add the ground up almonds, cinnamon and ginger and mix in well.
In a clean bowl, whisk up the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
Add a couple of tablespoons of the egg white to the almond and egg mix, and stir in well. This will loosen the nut mix slightly, so that you can add the egg white next, fold it gently in with a metal spoon, and not lose all of the air that you have painstakingly just whipped into it.
As soon as there are no streaks of egg white left, pour the cake batter into the tin, and bake it in the centre of the warm oven for about an hour.
The cake is done when a skewer poked into its centre comes out clean. Leave it to cool in the tin.
While the torte is still warm, make a sugar syrup by dissolving a tablespoon of sugar substitute into the zest and juice of a lemon, over a low heat. Pierce the cake in several places with the same skewer you used to test it, and then pour the syrup over the whole cake. The holes you have just made will help it to soak in.
Serve on its own, or with a little natural yoghurt. And always with a lot of thanks.