I am a big fan of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, the photos are mouthwatering and every dish I have tried has been delicious. My favorite book is Jerusalem, not just for the recipes and photos but it’s premise. Two men who grew up in opposite ends of Jerusalem, one Jewish, one Arab create wonderful food together. In today’s America we seem so divided…we should just have a ginormous potluck where everyone brings their favorite dish to share. The rule would be bring a dish your grandmother or your grandfather made for you. Can you imagine that table? It would be filled with dishes from every corner of the world. Hard to hate on someone sharing a bowl of their grandmother’s mandu or kreplach. Mean words to a guy who hands you a plate of brisket perfectly smoked the way his dad taught him? I hope not. Food soothes the soul, heals the heart and sways the mind.
A girl can dream right?
A couple of weeks ago Ottolenghi posted a recipe in his New York Times column that looked absolutely scrumptious. A blueberry lemon almond loaf cake. Lucky for me I have a lemon tree in my garden (endless supply of lemons makes me happy) and ripe, sweet blueberries from my trip to the farmers market.
Buttery goodness brightened by lemon zest, generously dotted with blueberries and finished with a zingy lemon icing. Yep, making cake, then eating cake.
The batter comes together quickly. The addition of almond flour produces a tender crumb. The only glitch I encountered was adding a reserved portion of blueberries to the batter after 15 minutes in the oven. At this point the top of the loaf was brown and pretty set. I ended up throwing the blueberries on top and pushing them them down-with a bit of success. Next time I’d check the loaf earlier and throw the berries on a bit earlier so they sink into the batter a bit. I love lemon so I pumped up the amount of lemon zest in the cake and added some to the icing. Bake this cake its lemonlicious and bluerrific.
- ½ cup (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons/150 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
- 1 scant cup/190 grams granulated or superfine sugar (caster sugar)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or more juice as needed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (vanilla essence)
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- ⅔ cup/90 grams all-purpose flour (plain flour), sifted
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup/110 grams almond flour (ground almonds)
- 1 ½ cups/200 grams fresh blueberries
- ⅔ cup/70 grams confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)
- Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius. Grease a 9- or 8-inch/21-centimeter loaf pan with butter, line it with a parchment paper sling and butter the paper. Set the pan aside.
- Place butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until light, then lower speed to medium. Add eggs in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as necessary. The mix may split a little but don’t worry: It’ll come back together once you add the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and almond flour. With the stand mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing just until no white specks remain. Fold in about 3/4 of the blueberries by hand, then scoop batter into the prepared loaf pan.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top of the cake. Return to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, until cake is golden brown but still uncooked. Cover loosely with foil and continue to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes (less for a 9-inch pan, more for an 8-inch pan), or until risen and cooked, and a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and set aside in its pan to cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from pan and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
- When cake is cool, make the icing: Add lemon juice and icing sugar to a bowl and whisk together until smooth, adding a bit more juice if necessary, just until the icing moves when you tilt the bowl. Pour over the cake and gently spread out. The blueberries on the top of the cake may bleed into the icing a little, but this will add to the look.
- Let icing set (about 30 minutes), slice and serve.
- I added another teaspoon of lemon zest to the batter and a generous 1/2 teaspoon of zest to the icing.
- I did not use all the icing, I drizzled the icing on instead. Not a super big fan of lots of icing.