HCB: Golden Lemon Almond Cake

See the pretty cake?

You can send many thanks to my main chica Jenn at Knitty Baker.  Go on, visit her and leave a message and tell her how great she is because that beautiful picture up above, I owe it to her.

I’ll wait.

The backstory… every time we would have a HBC cake in the line up that resembled a dense cake that called to use a bunt pan; I would suddenly be hit with pan envy.  Every week as I visited all of the HBC blogs, I would covet everyone’s fancy baking pans while whining like a 3-year old lamenting that I needed to get with the program and buy a fancy pan. 

My plain old bunt cake pan was not cutting it anymore among all the fancy bakers.

Jenn was listening.  I mean what are “chicas” for right?

And a couple of months ago (yep, this has been sitting in my kitchen waiting to be used that long) I got a card from far, far away in my mailbox and inside the card a simple written message just shouted out to me: “GO BUY PAN NOW!” and along with those strict demands, a William Sonoma gift card fell out.

People! The happy, happy, joy, joy dance paled compared to the shouting and shacking of booty that incurred around my house.  I wasted zero minutes before I was in the car and driving to the mall that housed the closest WS store.  I did not even stop to think that they would not have it in stock, because, in cases like this the universe just works with you, not AGAINST YOU.

I came home with my nice little fancy pan.  And after much ohh and ahh, put it away and it sat…

…waiting… waiting… and waiting for just the right moment.

which happily showed up this past Sunday.

Specifically as I was writing the post for the Golden Carrot Cake and thought – “mmmm, I may not be able to call this cake my free choice…may need something else, just in case” plan B went into effect when I realized I had almost everything I needed to make the Golden Almond Cake and since it was a free choice week, it was ON! 

Which has somehow eluded me all this time.

No more, and hello my FANCY PAN!  Time to shine.

To say this cake is easy is just plain ridiculous, once you get all of the ingredients at room temperature and then weighted and lined up in order of usage (what?!, you guys don’t do that?) then it comes together in less than 5 minutes.  Into my fancy pan it went and after basking under oven temperatures of 350F for 45 minutes, this cake comes out all nice and golden and leaving a lemony aroma in its wake.

All systems go at this point I thought, this one is going to be good.

A nice poking all around and a good soaking of the lemon syrup, which in may case was LIME syrup (no lemons around my house).  Another 10 minute down time and out the pan it came… my fancy pan worked like a well-oiled machine and let go of my cake without so much as shake me down.

More soaking with the syrup and then it was a matter of waiting around until Tom and I could not wait any more to cut into it.  We hit a record and waited a total of 2 hours - We are still patting ourselves on our backs for showing that amount of constraint – trust us we suck at that.


Tom: “you are going to hate me, I love the carrot cake, loved it.  This one I like too, but not as much as yesterday cake.  Having said that, make sure to leave me a big piece to have for breakfast this week.”

As for me – I really loved it.  This is one of those cake that if you wait they will taste even better the next day and the next and the next.  Rose is right when suggesting that it’s a perfect give-away gift cake.  I will probably use this in my fancy Christmas gift baskets this year, it’s perfect for that.  Or a host gift, or for your mother-in-law, or visitors or… well you get it.. the cake is good, period.

And since the universe it still handing out free passes my way, I’m cashing them in and giving the recipe.  It has been posted in numerous places with permission over at Good Food… so I can share it with you guys here:

Serves 12 to 14 

  • 2/3 cup blanched sliced almonds
  • 1¼ cups, divided turbinado sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup, divided sour cream
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/8 teaspoon pure lemon oil, preferably Boyajian
  • 2 cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) plus 3 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons, loosely packed Lemon zest, finely grated
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter (65 to 75F/19 to 23C) 
  1. Preheat the Oven: Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C (325°F/160°C if using a dark pan).
  2. Toast and Grind the Almonds: Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, or until pale gold.  Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning.  Cool completely. In a food processor, process until fairly fine.  Add ¼  cup of the sugar and process until very fine.
  3. Mix the Liquid Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, ¼ cup of the sour cream, the vanilla, and lemon oil just until lightly combined.
  4. Make the Batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the ground almonds, the remaining sugar, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest on low speed for about 30 seconds.  Add the butter and the remaining sour cream.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 ½ minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.  Using a spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula.
  6. Bake the Cake: Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.  An instant-read thermometer inserted near the center should read 200 to 205F/93 to 96C.
  7. Make the syrup shortly before the cake is finished baking


  • ½ cup Turbinado sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed 
  1. Make the Lemon Syrup: In a 1-cup or larger microwavable glass measure (or a small saucepan over medium heat), heat the sugar and lemon juice, stirring often until the sugar is almost completely dissolved.  Do not boil.  A few un-dissolved grains form a sparkly, crackly finish to the crust.  Cover it tightly to prevent evaporation.
  2. Apply the Syrup and Cool and Unmold the Cake: As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, poke the cake all over with a thin skewer, and brush it with about one-third of the syrup.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Invert it onto a 10-inch cardboard round or serving plate.  Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup.  Cool completely and wrap airtight. 

A couple of notes:  

  • I replaced the lemon use with lime use and had not issue with the flavor, I’m sure the lemon is a bit more mild, but it seem to work just as well.  Since I’m going to do this one again, I plan to use the lemon to compare.
  • I also had almond flour, and used that instead of toasting and gridding the almonds.
  • I did not have lemon oil, but did have lemon extract and use that instead as well.
  • I used turbinado sugar for the syrup, but not for the cake, since did not have enough for both things, instead I used dark brown sugar in the cake, and again, encounter no issues either.

You can head over to the HBC central to look at what the other heavenly bakers choose to do with their free choice this week.