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Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Cake

Last week was the wedding of two of my closest friends.

We’ve been friend ten years almost to the day; we’ve been friends through engagements and bereavements, we’ve shared drunk tears and sober laughter. We’ve read the same books, we’ve held the same babies, and we’ve watched the same people get married. They are so inextricably a part of my life and who I am.

There’s something quite magical when two of your friends marry one another. It’s neat and clever and pleasing but also so completely joyful and correct. Ten years after we met, after they met, they married one another, and it was pretty damn perfect. The wedding was in a castle in Tuscany, just outside of Florence; it was beautiful and dreamlike and I think I cried about eight times.

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This cake, one of my favourites, was made for the hen weekend. It’s a fun cake: bright, fresh sponge, spiked with almonds and raspberries, and singing with sharp, zinging lemon. The lemon curd just peeps out through the raspberries; the tartness of the rasps and curd sit against the mellower almond and the sweet sponge.

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If you’re not eating immediately, refrigerate to stop the cream or curd running, and dust with icing sugar just before serving.

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It goes like this:

Lemon, almond and raspberry cake

Makes: 1 8 inch cake
Takes: 1 hour 30 minutes
Bakes: 45 minutes

For the sponge:
Zest of 2 lemons
265g caster sugar
265g butter
175g self raising flour
90g ground almonds
2 tsp almond essence
4 large eggs
50ml whole milk
150g Raspberries

For the drizzle
50g Sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

For the curd
100g Sugar
3 egg yolks
50g Butter
Zest and juice of 2 lemons

For the cream
150ml double cream
50g raspberries

1 tablespoon of icing sugar

1. First, make your curd. Place a glass bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Put the zest, juice, sugar and butter into the bowl and stir until they have melted and dissolved. Add the yolks and whisk gently but constantly until the curd has thickened noticeably. Pass through a fine sieve whilst still warm, and then cover and chill in the fridge.

2. Now make your sponges. Preheat the oven to 180 °C, and grease and line two 8 inch round tins. Muddle together the zest and sugar with a spatula, and then cream this together with the butter until pale and fluffy. Weigh the flour into a separate bowl, and then add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, one at a time, alternating with a tablespoon of flour to stop the mixture curdling. Fold in any remaining flour, and all of the ground almonds. Add the almond extract and milk, stirring gently to combine.

3. Divide the batter between the two prepared tins, and dot with raspberries. Bake for 45 minutes; check it at 30 minutes, and cover with foil if it’s looking dark. Mix the lemon juice and sugar together just before the sponges are ready. Prick holes all over the sponge, and pour drizzle over them. Leave to cool.

4. Whisk the double cream to stiff peaks and then roughly muddle through the raspberries; this will take a little of the stiffness out of it, but don’t mix it too much.

5. Assemble the cake: peel off any baking paper, and place the bottom sponge on the plate you will serve it on. Spoon the whipped cream onto the sponge, creating a little ridge if you can around the edges. Spoon the lemon curd onto the curd and sandwich with the top layer. Dust with icing sugar.

6. Ta Dah!

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Icing on the Cake

We ate this in a loft room in Clerkenwell, decorated in bridal bunting and hen paraphernalia (and then for breakfast the next morning; I can recommend this as a hangover cure).

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