Rose’s Golden Lemon Almond Cake

Since this week will be largely based on my interview with Rose Levy Beranbaum, it seems only appropriate that I make something out of the new book, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. I put it to Rose to give me the assignment. I was secretly hoping that she’d have me do one of the more opulent recipes, since I thought it would be funnier under the circumstances. Instead she asked me to make what she said was her current favorite, the Golden Lemon Almond Cake. I certainly won’t put up a fight. You’ll need a 10-cup tube pan (bundt pan) to make it. Here are the ingredients and procedures in my own words:

2 ounces blanched, sliced almonds
8.7 ounces (1 ¼ cups) turbinado sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
8.5 ounces (1 cup) sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
3/8 teaspoons lemon oil (preferably Boyajian)
8.7 ounces bleached all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ ounce (2 tablespoons) lemon zest
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

Preheat your oven to 350. Then prepare your pan by coating it with Baker’s Joy baking spray or brushing it with melted shortening, then dusting with Wondra instant flour.

Once the oven is up to temperature, toast the almonds for 7-9 minutes until they’re pale gold in color. Cool them.

Next, grind the almonds in a food processor for 15 seconds. Add ¼ of the turbinado sugar and process until very fine.

Next, combine the liquid ingredients. Whisk the eggs, ¼ of the sour cream, the vanilla and lemon oil until lightly combined.

Now make the batter. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle (beater), combine the rest of the sugar with the almond mixture, flour, baking powder, soda, salt and lemon zest and stir on low for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining sour cream and continue to stir until the ingredients are moistened. Scrape down the sides. Next, turn the mixer up to medium high and beat the batter for 1 ½ minutes.

Turn the mixer down to medium low and add the egg mixture in two installments, beating for 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down the sids. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the cake is deep golden and springs backs when touched. Mine took about 60 minutes.

When the cake is nearly done, prepare the lemon syrup. Combine:

3.5 ounces (half cup) turbinado sugar
2.2 ounces (1/4 cup) lemon juice

…in a small sauce pan over high heat. Continue to stir until the sugar is nearly, but not quite, dissolved (these larger crystals will give the crust a faint crunch and will give the cake a sparkly finish.

When the cake comes out of the oven, place it pan and all on a wire rack. Poke the cake all over with a skewer and brush on about a third of the syrup. Let it cool for ten minutes. Unmold the cake onto a cardboard cake round or serving plate. Brush the cake with the remaining syrup, cool it completely and wrap it airtight.

This cake is best enjoyed the day after it is made.

6 thoughts on “Rose’s Golden Lemon Almond Cake”

  1. Hi, Joe! I made this cake last night, and tried it just now. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! So moist and flavorful.
    Had to make one substitution:
    I called about ten stores in the area, including whole foods, Kings supermarket, Penzeys spices, William and Sonoma, plus some other local groceries that might carry lemon oil, and no luck. So I used a teaspoon of Mccormic lemon extract instead and upped the zest; also, rubbed the zest with some of the sugar to release oils. I’m not sure how different the cake might have been with oil, but even with the extract, it positively explodes with lemony goodness.
    My only issue is the amount of sugar; for me, it is too much. Next time ( and there definitely will be next time for this glory) I’ll use probably 3/4 cup for the cake and maybe change syrup proportions slightly. As it happened, even this time, I used 1/3 cup lemon juice instead of 1/4 because I happened to have extremely juicy lemons.

    I also had a problem unmolding it, even though I used Baker’s Joy. But it may be due to the fact that I had to unmold almost immediately after taking it out of the oven. (I had to finish pouring the syrup while my toddler was sleeping). The cake is so soft and moist that it falls apart easily. Part of the top came off mine. But it did not matter since it’s not going anywhere beyond the doors of our apartment. NExt time, if I decide to take it anywhere, I’ll wait for about half an hour before unmolding it.

    Thank you for sharing this great recipe!

  2. I’ve made this cake three times and it has turned out perfectly every time! I follow your instructions pretty closely and love your tutorial.

    I’ve used whole unpeeled almonds twice. I roasted them as described and the only difference seemed to be that the color of the cake was darker. I also use about 1/3 c lemon juice for the syrup because I can’t find lemon oil.

    Meyer lemons are in season now and I’m going to try the cake with those. 😀

    1. Is there anything more delightful than a Meyer lemon? I think NOT!

      Thanks for this, T. I appreciate hearing about substitutions and fiddlings. Your sound terrific!

      – Joe

    1. Thanks, Radhika! Please feel free to ask any questions abut anything you find on the blog!


      – Joe

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