Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lemon Semolina Cake with Raspberries and Whipped Cream (Page 708)


  • Date: Thursday, September 11, 2008 -- 9pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: A-

I had some friends over for dinner a few weeks ago and I intended to serve this cake as dessert. Several different people brought desserts with them, however, so I opted to freeze the layer of cake that I had prepared. I thawed it and filled it with whipped cream and raspberries later in the week for me and my special gentleman to enjoy. Although this recipe sounded delicious, I had been putting it off because it calls for 12 blanched whole almonds. It's hard to find blanched whole almonds -- I don't know anywhere in town to buy them -- and I have a bad attitude about skinning nuts myself (more on that another time). If they had indicated a measure of volume or weight, I could have used blanched slivered almonds, which are easy to find, but there was no such indication. Even Google couldn't seem to tell me the weight of one almond with any consistency. Probably the thing to do would have been to weigh 12 almonds with their skins on (which are obviously easy to find) and then use that weight of blanched slivered almonds, but frankly I didn't have that idea until just now. So I put off making this recipe for the last two and a half years. Several times people flipping through The Book have asked, "Oooo, can we make that one?" And I have replied with a simple, "No." Finally, I decided it was getting a little ridiculous. Eventually I have to make it, so it was time to either order some blanched almonds online, or come up with a work-around. I opted for the latter. So what did I do? It's embarrassing actually. Maybe I will lie. I weighed 12 whole almonds with their skins, and then... Oh wait, I already admitted that I didn't do that. Damn it. Ok, here goes. What I really did was I stood over my counter top with a bag of slivered almonds, trying to reconstruct whole almonds from the slivers. Ok, I'm not that stupid -- I wasn't trying to reconstruct the almonds that those slivers actually came from, but I was trying to piece them together in order to approximate how many slivers made up one almond. Eventually I came up with some quantity of almond slivers which I declared to be 12 almonds, and I moved on.

After the almond reconstruction project, I ground up the almonds in the food processor until finely ground. Then I separated some eggs and beat the yolks with sugar for a while, then beat in lemon zest and lemon juice. After all that was combined I folded in the ground almonds and some semolina. In a separate bowl I beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, then folded them into the yolk mixture. The batter got poured into a cake pan and baked until done. Once it was cool (and in my case, frozen and then thawed) I split the cake into two layers, and filled it with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. I dusted the top with powdered sugar and it was ready to serve. Aside from the almond fiasco, it was quite simple. I liked this cake a lot. The semolina and ground almonds gave the cake a slightly grainy texture. Although that doesn't necessarily sound appealing, it worked in this recipe -- the graininess of the cake layer was a nice textural contrast to the rich, smooth whipped cream filling. The flavors of the cake were clean and simple. Cake with fruit and cream is generally delicious, and this recipe was a nice execution of that concept. It wasn't a fancy dessert, and it wasn't particularly cute, but it was tasty. It was a lovely finish to a simple week-night dinner.

This recipe isn't online.


Liz C said...

OK, so volumetrically, how much almond 'meal' does one get from 12 whole blanched almonds?

I can't believe they did that, BTW.

Teena said...

I didn't measure it, but not much. it barely covered the bottom of a little baby food processor that I have!

scott said...

Your narrative skill is quite impressive. This was by far the funniest blanched slivered almond story I have ever read.

Teena said...

Thanks Scott!