Saturday, August 19, 2017

100% patriotic & guilt-free sheet cake!

Last weekend, the brilliant Tina Fey told us on Saturday Night Live that we should eat sheet cake this weekend instead of stressing out over things like what happened in Charlottesville. 

I totally agree. Life can be too overwhelming nowadays. I don't need to get my pulse up any higher than it already is. But I like cake. Cake is good.

The only thing is that I tend to binge eat when I'm very worried about what's going on, and I'm sure I'm not alone there. And so if you've been wondering why there have been so many recipes on this blog lately for custard tarts and the like, this is the reason.
Moist & delicious
In spite of all that, I want to eat at least semi-healthy whenever I can, and so I've come up with a great flourless and pretty much (if you want) sugarless sheet cake. 

This cake is super moist, incredibly light, and amazingly tasty, with the aroma of lemons and almonds weaving their magic. A crunchy caramelized top makes turns this into a delicious version of Old Glory with the absolute minimum of effort.

Honestly, the whole deal is a breeze to put together. Just measure out everything before you begin, prep the cake pan, and heat up the oven. If you have a stand mixer, even better.

Once the cake is done, just sprinkle the cake with some sugar and press foil strips in a flaglike pattern. Broil it, and it's done.

Ta-da. Flag cake. No guilt, just lots of happy feelings...

Triple lemon flourless sheet cake chez Huang
Feeds 1 to 12, depending upon your stress level
Soft egg white peaks

4 large egg whites
½ cup (100 g) sugar or sugar substitute (follow the package directions, since these vary)
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 generous tablespoon grated lemon zest
1½ cups (200 g) blanched almond flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (or more) sugar (sanding sugar is great here)

1. Line a small rectangular pan (about 9 x 7 inches / 23 x 18 cm) with parchment paper and spray with oil. Place your oven rack in the center of the oven and set the heat to 350°F (175°C).

Egg whites into the batter
2. Use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment – or a hand mixer – beat the egg whites into a froth. Add the sugar (or sugar substitute) and beat the egg whites some more until they stand in soft peaks. Beat in the almond and lemon extracts, as well as the zest. 

3. In a dry work bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Stir in the egg yolks and lemon juice to form a thick paste. Use a silicon spatula to fold the beaten egg whites in thirds into the yolk mixture, making sure that the batter is relatively smooth before adding the next batch, but not beating down the bubbles in the process. 

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth out the top, and bake the cake for about 25 minutes. It will be done when it is a light gold on top. Check to make sure it's done by inserting a toothpick in the center: it should come out clean. 

5. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes, and then turn it out on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Set the rack in your oven to about 4 inches (10 cm) from the broiler element and turn the oven on to "broil."
Easy peasy flag pattern
6. Cut a small sheet of foil into thin (around ¼ inch / 50 mm) strips. Turn the cake out onto the lined baking sheet so that the moist bottom is facing you. Sprinkle the bottom of the cake with the sugar, and then arrange the foil in a flaglike pattern, as shown to the right.

7. Broil the cake for a couple of minutes, just until the sugar is caramelized. DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THE OVEN WHILE YOU'RE DOING THIS. Remove the cake from the oven, discard the foil, and let the cake cool down to room temperature. Eat with the news turned off. A glass of warm milk and some bunny slippers are all you need.

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