As I’ve been gathering up the mismatched and hitherto disregarded pieces of my scattered brain, one thing has been steadfast which has allowed me to maintain my sanity (a little) and keep me from feeling completely incomplete. I’m talking about friends, the mere existence of them.
Some friends you make in kindergarten over chocolate-covered fingers and faces during the ever-anticipated recess. Some you happen to meet in playgrounds and day cares, instantly making you mischievous partners-in-crime. Others you grow up with, remembering everything about them from their first bicycle to their first heartbreak. Then there are those that you meet in between and along the way, that fit into and fill the deepest crevices of your heart – making you feel whole, unbroken. The ones that aren’t afraid to tell you the truth, even if it isn’t what you want to hear – for your sake and not theirs. The ones that transcend the constraints of both distance and time. The ones that you can call at practically any hour on a whim to have a drink or some ice cream, just because. I am blessed to have met these friends, amongst whom I have made a family of. And today happens to be one such friend’s birthday. Happy birthday, Joanne!
Even though you’re not physically near to taste this simple yet ever-so-satisfying cake, I know you’d appreciate the love in it with the tart creaminess of the lemon cream cheese frosting complementing the light texture and nuttiness of the almond cake. I wish you the very best birthday, with many more delicious cakes in addition to this one.
Almond Lemon Cake
Adapted from 17 and Baking
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup almond meal (make your own by grinding almonds to a fine powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup + 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
slivered almonds, to garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 9″ round pan, line it with a circle of buttered parchment paper and then flour the pan.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar at medium-high speed for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Mix in the extracts and lemon zest, then beat in the egg. Working on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 the buttermilk mixture, then another 1/3 of the flour, the last of the buttermilk, then the last of the flour. Mix until just combined.
Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting. If frosting the cake with cream cheese frosting, store the cake in the refrigerator.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from 17 and Baking
3/4 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Zest of half a lemon
1/4 tsp vanilla
Beat cheese and cream together until smooth and creamy and slight peaks begin to form. Sift in the powdered sugar and zest and beat until smooth. Mix in the vanilla extract and spread on cooled cake (or eat with a spoon.)