June was a difficult month. Aside from fasting 30 days’ straight for 18-odd hours a day and studying for and sitting an exam whilst fasting, there was that referendum result. A result which left me glumly moping around the house for days and from which I am still smarting.
Part of the reason I absolutely love living in London is because of how multicultural and cosmopolitan it is; how accepting it is of everyone and anyone, regardless of which walk of life they’re from; how I don’t have to go as far as Spain to practice my Spanish because there are so many lovely Spaniards here, willing to give me the chance to speak it with them; how I am accepted, regardless of my skin colour, my faith or my mother tongue.
It saddens me to the core to realise that many people in the country I call home don’t share this culture of acceptance and openness; that given the choice, they would ‘send everyone back to where they came from’, apart from, of course, their ‘own people’, even if their own people were once foreigners here too…
And so, because of spending most of June morose, I’m afraid I didn’t have the slightest inclination to bake or publish a new baking post. For me, baking is a happy activity, to be engaged in when I myself am happy: June did not find me thus.
However, we’ve made it through to July: fasting is done for another year (well, minus 11 days); my exam is over; Dr D and I have holibobs coming up; and, whilst it seems that what’s done is done and cannot be undone when it comes to Brexit, perhaps I can use this post to apologise to the rest of the world for the "not in my backyard" mentality and appalling decision-making skills of some of my fellow Brits. Truly, from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. There, I feel better now!
And so on to cake. This is another naturally gluten free recipe, adapted from what’s known as Persian Love Cake. I don’t know where the Love bit comes from (but I like it!), but the Persian reference, I assume, is due to the fact the original versions have Persian influences such as rosewater in them. Since I changed it around quite a bit, I felt I couldn’t still justify the Persian reference, but I’m sticking with the Love Cake, because, well yes, I did love it and we need some more love in the world, clearly. The crunchy biscuit-like base layer is topped by a lighter layer, reminiscent of baked cheesecake, only far lighter. I then added a zingy mascarpone frosting to contrast the sweetness of the cake, but you could omit this if you prefer.
Yields 10-12 slices
For the cake:
- 360g ground almonds
- 150g Demerara sugar
- 200g soft light brown sugar
- 120g unsalted butter, softened
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 250g Greek-style yogurt
- 2 large eggs
For the frosting:
- 250g mascarpone
- 300ml double cream
- 4 tbsp/60g caster sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 50g roughly chopped pistachios
Preheat the oven to 180C (160c for a fan oven) and grease and line the sides and base of a 9”, round springform cake tin.
Tip the ground almonds, sugars and butter into a large bowl and gently rub together with your fingertips until it’s all well combined and you have coarse crumbs the consistency of wet sand.
Add the lemon zest and stir through the mixture, then spoon half of the almond mix into your prepared cake tin and press it down evenly with your fingers to cover the whole base.
Add the yogurt and eggs to the remaining almond mix and beat with a spatula or wooden spoon until you have a smooth, mousse-like mixture. Pour this evenly over the base and bake for 45-50 minutes.
Allow the cake to cool completely in its tin before removing.
To make the frosting, place the mascarpone, cream and sugar in a large bowl and whisk with a handheld electric whisk until smooth (you’re looking for medium peaks). Add the lemon juice and lightly whisk again, just enough for the juice to be combined into the frosting.
Place the cake on your serving plate and using an offset spatula, frost the sides and then the top of the cake.*
Scatter over the chopped pistachios.
*If you like, reserve some of the frosting and once you’ve smoothed some of it on the side and top of the cake and scattered over the pistachios, place what’s left in a piping bag and pipe swirls around the edge.