Lemon & Almond cake infused with Lemon Verbena syrup

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Style and decoration makes a cake something special, but taste is essential for people to really remember you and your cake. I am supposed to bring a cake to our friends wedding in 2 weeks and I really want to impress them and their 150 guests! So I embarked myself in a taste test, and after a few failures, like blueberry buttercream that tasted like cough syrup, and a cake that was crumbling away and falling apart, I finally managed to find a recipe that worked for me and for my final vision of the cake.

The winner of the Great British Bake Off 2013, Frances, published this beautiful lemon naked wedding cake on the June issue of my BBC Good Food magazine. I was already set on the naked cake idea: the wedding will be “natural”, in a farm with wild flowers everywhere, I didn’t want to turn up with a fancy cake covered with perfectly smooth icing. Somehow I don’t think it will fit with the haystacks and the lavender pots scattered around the barn. Have a look at the final chef d’oeuvre and some wedding photos in this post.

This recipe is an adaptation of Frances’ recipe. I decided to use more almond, and I also made up my own syrup with the leaves from our beautiful Lemon Verbena plant.

Lemon&Almond cake infused with lemon verbena syrup

Lemon&Almond cake infused with lemon verbena syrup

Ingredients

For the lemon and verbena syrup:

  • 150ml lemon juice
  • 2 branches of fresh lemon verbena
  • 120g of caster sugar

Cook the juice and the sugar until boiling. Turn the heat off, add the verbena leaves and leave to infuse for 3h. This syrup is tart and will give a good kick to the sweet cake. Cover and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

For the cake for a 23cm greased and lined tin:

  • 5 eggs lightly beaten
  • 312g caster sugar
  • 312g slightly salted butter
  • 312g self-raising flour
  • Zest of 5 lemons
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 3 Tbsp of lemon juice

Heat the oven at 170C/150C Fan/gas 3. Cream the sugar and the butter with an electric whisk and add the beaten eggs slowly, making sure it is all well combined. Sift in the flour and mix well, add the ground almond and the lemon zest and finally add the lemon juice. Combine it all gently and pour it in the tin. It shouldn’t be liquid and you’ll need a spatula to level the top. Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave it to cool in the tin. When cold, take out of the tin, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour or so to ease slicing.

For the filling:

  • 250 g of mascarpone
  • 40ml of the syrup
  • 4 Tbsp of lemon curd
  • a handful of blueberries

Whisk together the mascarpone and the syrup. Store in the fridge, but bring to room temperature before use.

For the decoration:

Chop very finely 2 purple beetroots and dry in the oven at 150C for 10 minutes. Open the oven door often to let the moisture out. Switch the oven off and leave the beetroot petals in until cold.

When all your ingredients are ready, slice the cake in 2 in the middle. A great tip from the BBC Good Food magazine this month: After making a pre-cutting mark all around the cake with a knife, insert a toothpick on ether side of the cut so when you cut the cake you’ll know how to put it back together and the cake will be perfectly levelled. Slice the cake in two with a bread-knife. Turn the top slice upside down and place it on your cake stand. Brush the top with syrup, spread the mascarpone and the lemon curd and scatter blueberries everywhere. Brush the other half of the cake with the syrup. Place the slice on top of the filling so the flat bottom of the cake in on top. Sift icing sugar heavily on the top and add the beetroot petals.

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