Yes, we know "gluten-free" is all the rage. But using ground almonds in place of flour was a legitimate method of making cakes long before it became trendy. This dessert was developed for Tonia George's young daughter, who was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Not wanting to exclude her from enjoying sweets, The Ginger & White Cookbook author came up with this Middle Eastern-inspired loaf cake heavily flavored with pistachios and lemon. It's a crumbly take on pound cake, made super-sweet with the addition of a sugar and rosewater syrup.
Tips: To bake the cake, the recipe indicates using a "2 lb bread pan." A Google search returned images of a very long, thin pan (16 x 4 inches). Not having one, we made do with two more standard 8 x 4 loaf pans, dividing the batter between them. It gave the added bonus of having one cake to keep and one to give away, or to save for later. If you split the batter, make extra syrup to pour over the two cakes.
Tweaks: You can't tell from the photo, but the chopped pistachio topping is actually a syrup that has soaked into the cake, leaving the nuts behind. It calls for one single solitary drop of rosewater: if you don't have it, skip it. There is plenty of sugar and lemon to flavor the cake, and rosewater can be hard to find. But if you want to go out and buy a bottle, make sure it's food-grade, not for making body oil or soap. Food-grade rosewater can be found in the baking and spices section of a well-stocked supermarket or in a Middle Eastern foods store. Nielsen-Massey makes a fine version, sold as "Rose Water Extract," and comes in a modest four-ounce size.
As always with our Bake the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Ginger & White Cookbook to give away.
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