Lemon-Almond Cake with Toasted Coconut

Lemon-Almond Cake with Toasted Coconut

I drove for the first time all week on Friday. Stopped at the gas station, bought a pack of Camels. More out of habit than craving. More to mindlessly let the cherry eat up the filter until the tips of my fingers were burnt a gentle blush of pink. The window rolled down when it was raining and the hair on my knuckle matted, I thought of nothing else that morning. I kept my windows down and my sunglasses off, my ears rattling with the whistle of the valley air. I go 80 on the turns and 65 on the back roads. I stopped once to see a fox lying dead on the side of the road. Orange as a hyacinth, its coat matted in enameled blood and the kind of thistles my cousin calls “pricklers”.

Small black feet that used to dance on uneven creek rock. I knew this fox. And while I don’t think orange has ever been a color for royalty, he was beautiful in a way I was not.

I swerved thinking of something my mother had said that morning, distracted by my own Prodigal anger at her. How casually she’s forgotten so much about me. How she whispers certain words in grocery stores. How she leaves out the best parts of a story if it’s at her expense. People have a way of forgetting and I remember a lot more moving back than I thought I would.

I drove for the first time all week, saw a fox on the side of the road, bought a pack of cigarettes and sat outside for a while. Thought about where I want to live, and how I consolidate those dreams when I am still paying off two degrees and a year of law school I never pulled the trigger to just get it over with and finish.  I went inside and baked a cake when it was 90 degrees in the kitchen. I ran out of containers, so I keep my almond meal in an old Maxwell House coffee canister for right now. I used some sun-warmed lemons and made it simple. Because, above all else, I can’t forget that’s the reason I moved back home. Because people have a way of forgetting.

Lemon-Almond Cake with Toasted Coconut

Lemon-Almond Cake with Toasted Coconut

Ingredients for Cake:

  • 2 cup AP flour
  • 2/3 cup almond meal (fine, my preferred is Bob’s Red Meal)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup crème fraiche (can substitute sour cream or ricotta here as well)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Zest from two lemons
  • 4 tablespoons butter, extremely softened
  • 2 eggs + 1 yolk, room temperature
  • 1 TB white vinega

Ingredients for buttercream:

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening, softened
  • 2 tb butter, softened
  • ½ TB vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 TB whole mil

Directions for Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Prepare an 8-inch springform pan with butter and parchment paper
  3. Into the bowl or your stand mixer (or, if you prefer, you can do this by hand), sift together flour, almond meal, baking soda, and salt. Repeat twice more (this step isn’t necessarily, but I really believe in getting the almond meal as light and aerated as possible here)
  4. In a separate measuring cup, vigorously whisk together crème fraiche, oil, extracts, lemon, butter, eggs, and vinegar. It will be clumpy even when fully mixed
  5. Create a well in your dry ingredients with a wooden spoon and, while slowly mixing by hand, pour in your wet ingredients in a lumpy, gentle stream
  6. Now, with the paddle attachment, beat batter on medium-high for about 20-30 seconds until thin and pale yellow ribbons form
  7. Pour batter into your prepared pan
  8. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until top is golden brown and edges are separating from the side of the pan
  9. Allow to cool completely before adding buttercream and coconu

Directions for buttercream:

  1. Vigorously whisk fats, extract, and confectioner’s sugar together until you have a dry paste
  2. Add as much milk and whisk until it is thin, but not runny
  3. Set aside. This will be a very small amount to just do a crumb coat on the cake for the coconut to stick t

Lemon-Almond Cake with Toasted Coconut

Ingredients and Directions for coconut:

In a large, dry skillet, heat on medium for about a minute to get warm. Add 1 ½ - 2 cups of sweetened, finely cut coconut to the pan and continuously stir (allowing to sit for a few seconds between stirs to warm up) until nutty and beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from heat and dump into a bowl to cool

To Assemble

Place cake on plate and, using an angled spatula or butter knife, cover cake in buttercream. This will be a thin, thin layer and will resemble a crumb coat or “naked cake”. Now, grab a handful of coconut and lightly press into the cake. Repeat until fully covered. Grate a little more lemon zest over cake and maybe a little confectioner’s sugar because why not. Eat immediately. Ideal with hot coffee and can keep for up to three days (maybe even four or five if you are careful and it is airtight)

Lemon-Almond Cake with Toasted Coconut
Lemon-Almond Cake with Toasted Coconut