“TRAVELING IS LIKE FLIRTING WITH LIFE. IT’S LIKE SAYING, I WOULD STAY AND LOVE YOU, BUT I HAVE TO GO; THIS IS MY STATION.” Lisa St. Aubin de Teran.
Travel back to the 1930’s on the Zephyr, the Flying Yankee, or the Comet. It was the golden age of train travel, when comfort and convenience replaced sensibility. And you could travel from here to there in luxury and style. These streamlined, sleek, art deco styled trains offered sleeping compartments, observation cars, and sit down dining and buffet lounges. If I close my eyes, I can put myself there. Having finished my dinner, I pat my short, crimped hair with my fingers and reapply my bright red lipstick. My waiter interrupts to ask what I’ll have for dessert. Dessert? Why I think I’ll try a slice of that lovely almond lemon cake!
Julie Richardson, author of Vintage Cakes, discovered a recipe for a Lemon Stream Liner Cake in a 1967 issue of Baking Industry. Though there was no explanation of the origin of the cake, she believed that one possibility is that it was named after the streamlined trains of the early 20th century. And my own imagination took me back in time as I made this really moist, almond buttermilk cake which is topped with a light, lemony custard.
I was so happy that The Cake Slice Bakers chose this Lemon & Almond Streamliner Cake this month! (I voted for this cake!) And it was really delicious. I would not have thought to pair lemon and almond, truthfully. But it worked! I loved the custard and will definitely use it in other recipes. This is a single layer, buttermilk cake. And in addition to topping the cake with this bright, lemon custard, Ms. Richardson instructs us to put a light coating of the custard around the edges of the cake for a pretty sheen.
Thank you to Paloma of The Coffee Shop for leading and inspiring such a wonderful group of bakers. If you are nostalgic and sentimental, and like me, love all things vintage; then you will love Vintage Cakes. It’s a beautiful book full of classic and unique cakes. And I think you really need to have this on your shelf!
For copyright reasons and to support the sale of this very special cake book, I don’t usually post the recipes we bake. But this Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake is different. This recipe has already been made public online with the permission of the publisher here.
So here is how to keep the train rolling . . . . .
Yields: 8-10 servings
Level of Difficulty: easy
I suggest making the custard a day ahead, so that it really has time to set. But the author suggests that you let the custard chill in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Grated zest of 2 lemons
- 3/4 cup of whole milk
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 4 egg yolks (save the whites for macarons or angel food cake!)
- 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1/2 cup of lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
- 4 Tablespoons of butter, cut into small cubes
The first thing you will want to do is combine the milk, 1/4 cup of sugar and the lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Heat this over medium – low heat, stirring, until the mixture becomes hot and the sugar is dissolved. Take this off of the heat and set it aside. Then, in a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the salt. When these are well combined, you will next whisk in the cornstarch and then the lemon juice.
To temper the egg mixture and to assure you don’t have a bowl of scrambled eggs, slowly add 1/3 of the milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. And finally, pour all of the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the milk and return the pan to the heat. Again, keep it on medium – low and continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble. This should take 2-5 minutes. Resist the urge to crank up the heat because you don’t want the custard to scorch on the bottom of the pan. (Yes…I’ve been burnt by my impatience before!) You will next pass the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl to strain out any bits of egg or cornstarch. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl and be sure to press the plastic on top of the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the custard for 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Now for the yummy almond cake!
- 1 1/4 cups of sifted cake flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 7 ounces of almond paste ( the original recipe called for 6 ounces, but the paste weighed 7 and so after a little nibble, I just added it all!)
- 10 Tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- 3 Tablespoons of canola oil
- 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 2/3 cup of buttermilk at room temperature
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 2 inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. I then, greased the top of the parchment paper, too.
I always begin by preparing my dry and wet ingredients, individually.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Then whisk the ingredients together to make sure they are well incorporated.
Slip the paddle attachment onto your stand mixer and combine the almond paste, butter, sugar, canola oil and vanilla on low speed to start until it is blended. Gradually increase the speed to high and cream the mixture until it is very light and fluffy. Expect this to take you about 7 minutes. You will also have to stop the mixer frequently to scrape down the beater and the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure the first one is incorporated before adding the next.
Then, with the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mix in 3 additions, with the buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until barely blended, and stop to scrape down the bowl. Stop the mixer before adding the last flour addition and add it and blend it by hand. You just don’t want to over beat the batter.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Tap the pan on the counter to make sure there are no air bubbles and well….it just feels good to make some noise and relieve some stress! Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the top is deeply golden brown, about 45 minutes. A toothpick in the center should come out just barely clean.
Cool the pan on a rack for about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and cool on a rack. Leave the parchment paper on until you are read to spoon the custard on. When you are ready to assemble, remove the paper and set the cake on your plate. Using a metal spatula, spread a thin layer of custard on the edges of the cake. (You may have to whisk the custard a bit if it seems too thick.) Put the rest of the custard on the top of the cake, spreading it barely to the edges. Allow the cake to set, refrigerated, for about 30 minutes to set. But bring it to room temperature again before serving. (Though I’ve eaten it cold right from the fridge and it’s still good!)
This almond cake is sweet and moist. And the lemon custard is tart and luscious. And I will definitely use both recipes separately in other recipes. They are both just good, solid recipes. Combined, the flavors are very unique. But I think you can do so much with the almond cake itself.
I’m thinking of whipped cream and berries. Or a layer of nutella topped with strawberries. How would you top this simple almond cake?
Please check out The Cake Slice Bakers to see how my nostalgia loving friends enjoyed this cake.
For more from Vintage Cakes, check out my Banana Cake with Coffee Walnut Buttercream, Butterscotch Cream Roll Up Cake, The Pink Cake, Black and White Cake, Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing, Boston Cream Pie-lets, Shoo Fly Cake, Red Velvet Cake or Honeybee Cake.
And don’t forget to pick up a copy of . . . . .