Damp Lemon + Almond cake

This is from Nigella’s book ‘How to be a domestic goddess’ which is one of my most used cookbooks. Her recipes never fail, and this one is great for the almond obsessed (me!). I’ve added the buttercream icing & decorations because my family don’t seem to understand un-iced cakes. Philistines.



225g soft unsalted butter (I use stork for cakes)

225g caster sugar

4 large eggs

50g plain flour

225g ground almonds

1tsp almond essence

Grated zest + juice from 2 lemons


100g soft unsalted butter (or stork)

250g icing sugar

1tsp almond essence

A slurp of milk

Zest of 1 lemon

handful of chopped almonds


  1. Heat oven to 180C and line the base of a 21-23cm springform cake tin with parchment..
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar for ages until really pale and fluffy. Do this for longer than you think you need to, so use an electric whisk or freestanding mixer.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of the flour each time so that it doesn’t curdle.
  4. Switch to a metal spoon and gently stir in the rest of the flour, then the almonds, essence, lemon zest and juice.
  5. Pour into the prepared tin and bake 50 minutes or so until a skewer comes out cleanish – damp but not covered in cake batter. Cover the top of the cake with a foil lid if it needs more cooking but is beginning to brown.
  6. Leave to stand for 5 mins or so, then remove the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Wrap in a baking paper and foil and try to set it aside for 24 hours minimum. Hard to do, but worth it.
  8. To serve, just cover in a dusting of icing sugar and a little grated lemon zest, or go ahead with the buttercream icing.
  9. Beat the butter until it’s really soft, then really gently start incorporating the icing sugar with a wooden spoon – if you beat too quickly to begin with you’ll be in a cloud of sugar immediately!
  10. Once the sugar is incorporated, switch to an electric whisk or freestanding mixer and beat for ages until it’s much paler and fluffy. We’re talking at least 5 minutes.
  11. Add the essence and beat some more, plus a slurp of milk if its too thick to spread on the cake.
  12. Smooth over the cake in whatever style you feel like, and decorate with zest & almonds.

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