The inspiration for this (as it happens) butter/oil-free, flourless cake is a week of foodie wanderings that involved a couple of Middle-Eastern jaunts. First was meeting a friend at Maha (bar and grill) for a 4 course soufra lunch and then on another night, after meeting a couple of interstate friends for coffee and cake in Carlton, we headed further up Lygon street (to #325) being ’Mankoushe’ for Lebanese-style pizza pie’s! I definitely plan to go back there.. Talk about delicious! And everything on the menu is under $10! I also brought home some housemade smokey eggplant dip.. mmmm. I don’t know which was better.. the food, the prices or the refreshingly helpful and friendly service?!
This cake is easy to make and gorgeous to eat. Vanilla yoghurt is a far better accompaniment than cream .. but suit yourself. The almond cake itself was inspired by Rick Stein and a recipe in his Mediterranean Escapes cookbook.. which I tweaked slightly. He ate his cake with an almond icecream (and he supplies that recipe too), but I love a syrup cake, especially an almond-based one.. thus, a chance to use the rosewater and saffron in my pantry! Happy baking
Almond Cake with Lime, Rosewater & Saffron Syrup
*Water x 1 cup
*Caster Sugar x 2/3 cup
*Lime x 1 (All the zest and juice)
*Vanilla Extract x 1/2 teaspoon
*Rose Water x 1.5 teaspoons
*Saffron threads x 1 pinch
*Just boiled water x 1/4 cup (for saffron to infuse)
*Almond meal x 250grams
*Eggs x 5 large (separate whites from yolks)
*Caster sugar x 3/4 cup
*Lemon zest (from 1/2 a lemon)
*Cinnamon x 1/2 teaspoon ground
*Butter for greasing tin (optional flour to dust tin, leave out if you want a wheat free cake)
*Optional: Thick, vanilla flavoured yoghurt for serving.
*Make syrup first because you need cold syrup to pour onto a hot cake, but in preparation, preheat your oven to 170 degrees celcius.
*In a small cup or dish, infuse saffron threads with just-boiled water, let infuse for around 10-15 minutes, then strain off threads and keep the yellow water.
*In a small saucepan, heat water, add caster sugar, dissolve (stirring), bring to boil and take off heat.
*Add lime juice, lime zest, cinnamon stick, vanilla extract, saffron water and rosewater and stir.
*Pour syrup into a dish with a wide base so it can cool quicker. I put my syrup outside to cool for 10 minutes while making the cake and then put it in the freezer to bring it to ‘cold’.
*For the cake, prepare a 20-23cm round cake tin by greasing with butter (optional dusting of flour).
*In a bowl, beat egg whites until you have stiff peaks.
*In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and caster sugar with an electric whisk until pale and creamy.
*Fold in almond meal, cinnamon and lemon zest. The mixture may appear crumbly and like you’re making dough instead of batter.
*Add a good couple of tablespoons of egg white mixture to your almond batter mixture and stir-in to start loosening it up. Add 1/3 of the leftover egg whites, stir again and repeat until you’ve incorporated all of the egg white. The mixture should appear like thick batter now.
*Pour almond cake batter into prepared cake tin and put in oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until a skewer (when pierced into the centre of the cake), comes out clean.
*When cake is baked, use a chopstick to put at least 20 holes all around the cake evenly, making sure the chopstick penetrates right through the cake to the bottom.
*Pour cold Lime, Rosewater and Saffron Syrup straight over cake while still in its tin. After a minute or so, I swirl the syrup to make sure it doesn’t it evenly distributes itself over the whole cake.
*Let cake sit for about 15 minutes, take out of tin and put on a serving platter. Cut into thin wedges and serve with a dollop of thick, vanilla yoghurt.