Today’s my birthday and what better way to celebrate than with a slice or two of this delicate and zesty almond and lemon cake?
This festive cake is one of the best examples to show that as a vegan, you can have your cake and eat it too. It’s luscious and light at the same time, consisting of three airy layers of almond and lemon sponge cake, covered with a fluffy frosting made from whipped and delicately flavoured coconut cream. With its cheerfully yellow cake layers it’s a joy to watch. And, whipped up with a simple stir-everything-together method, it’s truly one of the easiest cakes I have ever made.
The sponge cake is made with a combination of almond flour and almond yogurt. This gives it a lovely light and moist crumb as well as a soft almond flavour, which pairs wonderfully with the lemon and green tea flavours I added. I used rapeseed oil as the fat component, which adds a healthy dose of omega 3 fats to the batter, as well as the lovely yellow colour. To enhance the colour, I also added a pinch of turmeric – you won’t taste it, but it will lift the cake from modestly yellow to unreserved cheerfulness. The rapeseed oil will add a bit of flavour of its own, which I personally like. If it’s too pronounced for your taste, though, you can replace it with more neutrally flavoured sunflower oil or coconut oil.
I covered the cake with my go-to frosting: whipped coconut cream. As it’s naturally sweet, it doesn’t need any additional sugar, making it a lighter alternative to buttercream (for another delicious cake with whipped coconut cream, see my strawberry cake with lime and elderflower frosting). To make this one extra special, I infused the cream with one of my favourite flavours: green Earl Grey tea. When this green tea variety was first introduced, my black tea loving brother indignantly wondered why people thought there was any need to mess with a classic. At my special request, though, he brings me a tin of green Earl Grey tea leaves every time he visits London, grudgingly at first, but by now I’m sure he’ll be prepared to admit that green tea and bergamot just are a match made in heaven. And needless to say, I love the way they pair with the lemon-flavoured cake. Another advantage of using green tea is that it won’t discolour the cream. If you can’t get hold of green Earl Grey tea, Sencha or lemon melissa flavoured green tea make a delicious alternative.
Now all that’s left to do is top the cake with fresh fruits, flowers and herb leaves and share it with your favourite people.
Almond and lemon cake with Earl Grey tea frosting – serves 10
for the cake:
- 350 g all-purpose flour
- 100 g almond flour
- 240 g caster sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. turmeric (optional, just for the pretty yellow colour)
- pinch of salt
- zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
- 180 ml rapeseed oil or other vegetable oil
- 300 g almond yogurt or other plant-based yogurt
- 180 ml fresh lemon juice (from appr. 5 lemons)
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
for the frosting:
- cream scooped off from 4 chilled tins of full-fat coconut milk. The remaining coconut liquid can be frozen and used to make dal, laksa, rendang or other soups and stews.
- 6 bags of green Earl Grey tea or 6 teaspoons of green Earl Grey leaves. Black Earl Grey works well too, but may discolour your frosting. If you can’t get hold of green Earl Grey tea, Sencha or lemon melissa flavoured green tea make a delicious alternative.
- 1 bag (8 g) of cream thickener, in case your coconut cream is very thin.
- 3 ∅20 cm/ 8 inch baking tins, bottoms lined with baking parchment and sides lightly greased
- fresh fruits, flowers and herb leaves, to decorate
Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flours with the baking powder, baking soda, turmeric, salt and lemon zest. Pour in the oil, yogurt, lemon juice and vanilla extract and stir to make a smooth batter.
Divide the batter over the three baking tins. Smooth the surface and lightly tap the tins on the work top to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Gently warm the coconut cream in a saucepan, then take off the heat and add the tea bags. Stirring occasionally, allow the tea to steep in the warm cream for 20 minutes.
Remove the tea bags from the pan, squeezing out as much of the cream as you can without tearing the bags. Leave the cream to cool completely, then chill until ready to use.
To assemble the layer cake, whip the cream until fluffy. If the cream is very thin, whisk in a bag of cream thickener before whipping. Cover the first cake with a thin layer of the cream, then top with the second cake. Spread on another layer of the cream, then put on the last cake, upside down for a straight and smooth finish. Cover the top and sides of the cake with coconut cream and smooth with a spatula, or with a spoon for a more robust look.
Top the cake with fruits, flowers and leaves to your liking and enjoy straight away.