I made this wonderful cake at work as a base for the gorgonzola gelato I wrote about here, it is one of those cakes I can't stop eating and it gets better the next day, so it deserves a post of its own. The recipe comes from Pure Desserts, written by one of the Bay Area most accomplished cookbook authors, Alice Medrich, and you can see the original picture of the cake on her website. Her recipes are amazing, and she uses some of my favorite ingredients like cocoa nibs, buckwheat flour, saffron, cardamom, you name it.
Now that I know I am gluten intolerant and work in a restaurant I always try to have one or two desserts on the menu that are gluten free. This cake was first suggested to me years ago by a coworker as we were talking about the Pure Dessert book and some of our favorites recipes. I liked it then, but when I made it recently I realized how truly outstanding this recipe is. This cake surprised me for its simplicity and amazing taste, and it is so light and the lemon flavor intensifies the next day, you can serve it simply sprinkled with some powder sugar or with some whipped cream. Alice Medrich suggests to make it with pecans as well.
Walnut Sponge Cake
from Alice Medrich
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) walnut pieces
5 large eggs, separated
Zest of one lemon
1 tbs vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 325F. Line an 8" springform pan with parchment paper.
Coarsely chop 1/2 cup of the nuts. In a food processor process the remaining nuts until fine. Combine the nuts and set aside.
Whip the yolks with 1/3 cup of sugar until pale yellow, add the lemon zest, vanilla, and salt.
Whip the whites until foamy, then gradually add the 1/4 cup of sugar until soft peaks form.
Add half of the whites to the yolks, then cover with half the nuts.
Gently fold the ingredients until incorporated, then fold in the rest of the nuts and egg whites.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and cook in the pre-heated oven until a toothpick comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.
Cool 5 to 10 minutes then remove from the cake pan.