Torta Caprese is a wonderful chocolate and almond cake that comes from the island of Capri, just off Naples (see Torta Caprese e un pranzo italiano post). When I was on the nearby island of Ischia last September with my daughter Nicola, we had a lovely lemon version of the cake and I’ve been meaning to try our my favourite recipe (from Sophie Grigson’s Organic, No.5 on my Top Ten Cookery Books) with lemons instead of chocolate. Finally, a year later, I’ve got round to it. And though it may have been a long time in coming, believe me, it was worth the wait. It’s not better than the chocolate version (how could it be!) but it’s equally divine.
I’ve spent some time over the past couple of weeks since writing my first post about Torta Caprese trying to find a lemon version but they all had white chocolate in them – perhaps chocolate is part of the Caprese experience? – but I didn’t like the idea of that. White chocolate is very sweet (and to me sickly) and while the acidity of the lemons would cut through it to some extent, I still preferred the idea of just exchanging lemons for chocolate. An almond and lemon cake had to be good; it’s a wonderful partnership. So, with three willing guinea pigs coming yesterday evening in the shape of Nicola, Jonathan and Lyndsey, it seemed an ideal time to try this out – and we all agreed this was a gorgeous version of our favourite cake and definitely to be made again.
Torta Caprese al Limone
- 200g butter
- 4 eggs, separated
- 175g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 250g ground almonds
- 2 lemons
Heat the oven to 180C/160 Fan/Gas 4. Line the bottom of a 24 cm cake tin with baking parchment and grease the sides.
Melt the butter and leave to cool while starting on the rest of the ingredients. Beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar and vanilla extract till light and creamy; fold in the ground almonds and the melted butter and stir thoroughly. Then add the zest and juice of 2 lemons and stir again. Beat the egg whites till the soft peak stage and fold very gently into the lemon-y mixture. Spoon into the cake tin and put in the oven.
Check to see if done after 40 minutes – you want it to be browning and very slightly shrinking from the sides but still a little bit gooey in the middle. The original recipe suggests 50-60 minutes but I always find that’s too long in my oven and 40 minutes for the lemon cake was perfect last night – but remember ovens vary. Leave to cool in the tin then turn out onto a nice plate and sift some icing sugar over the top.
I served this with some vanilla ice cream on the side, but equally good would be cream, Greek yogurt or crème fraÎche.