I arrived back in London from Ohio about a week ago and have since been attempting to get into a work groove after all the intense pie-eating and relaxation that was the week of Thanksgiving. The short, dark days and my post-travel exhaustion definitely exacerbate my tendency to want to take a three-hour nap every afternoon, but I’m powering through. Mostly, I’ve got my mind on Australia.
Australia! The continent that Leo and I are traveling to for our honeymoon! To visit our Australian friends and bask in the summer sun and eat avocado toast and acai bowls! I’m so pumped to escape the bitter London winter and sweat my ass off on the beach in Sydney (and Melbourne! And Byron Bay!).
We want to be in Australia for New Year’s Eve so that we will be able to party on the beach and throw some steaks on the barbie and do all those things that Australians do to ring in the new year. However, in order to arrive in time for the 31st on a flight that’s biddie-budget-friendly, we have to leave on the 24th. Yup, that means we’ll be rocketing through the air on Christmas.
While I’m not too hung up on missing Christmas on land, I am trying to get my fill of the holiday season as much as possible before our departure, because I imagine that a 24-hour flight isn’t the most merry environment. I’ve been blasting Christmas music and trying to dig up anything in our house that could be used as garland. A few nights ago, Leo and I drank Ovaltine hot cocoa, listened to holiday tunes, and assembled a mini wooden tree that sits on our dinner table, because our flat is too small for the real deal. We’ll do a pre-Christmas dinner with Leo’s family before we leave, too, so we don’t miss out on that sweet sweet Christmas food.
And, of course, I’ve been cooking and baking up a storm of holiday-related treats. In Ohio, Leo and I made some freaking delicious Doctor Who-themed Linzer-ish cookies with my little brother Nash, and I’m brainstorming some fabulous recipes to max out my festive spirit pre-flight.
Enter this almond cake, the ideal holiday tea-time dessert. It gets a whack of almond-y goodness from both almond meal and almond extract, and a delicate lime flavor from a bit of zest. The almond meal also makes the cake extra dense and moist and mmmm. I paired the cake with a bold lime glaze and some candied almonds for crunch and a festive look. So pop on some holiday music (I know you get wild to Josh Groban’s “O Holy Night”) and bake like you’ll be hurtling through the stratosphere on Christmas and need to celebrate as much as you’re physically capable of before then. And then eat cake!
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 Tbsp. lime zest
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
- 1¼ cup powdered sugar
- 4 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 2 Tbsp. lime zest
- Preheat the oven to 375° F / 190° C. Grease and flour a 9-inch x 9-inch cake pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and lime zest until combined. Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, milk, and almond extract.
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cover with foil halfway through baking if the top of the cake browns too quickly.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, honey, salt, and 1/4 cup water. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring to a boil.
- Add the almonds, stirring to coat, and reduce to a simmer. Continue cooking and stirring until the sugar is caramelized and golden brown. Remove from heat and spread the almonds onto the prepared baking sheet to cool and harden.
- In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, lime juice, vanilla bean paste, and lime zest. Whisk until a pouring consistency forms.
- Once the cake has cooled, pour the glaze over the cake and scatter the caramelized almonds on top of the glaze.