For Mom, Cake!

 Lemon Cake with Almond Crumb Topping

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

 I come from a family of pie lovers; however our American culture has made cake the most celebratory of sweets.  We mark both birthdays and weddings with “cake.”  So for Mother’s Day, I suggest Lemon Cake with an Almond-Crumb Topping.  It is as sweet as any Mom and works perfectly into a brunch or dessert.

 If you don’t have a mom nearby to enjoy it with, bake it for yourself in her honor, or in honor of other great moms or mom-like persons, including grand-moms.  I like the French tradition of popping a little champagne with a special dessert and Mother’s Day is a worthy occasion.

 Easy-to-make, the batter calls for healthful canola oil so you don’t have to soften and cream butter. Some of the flour mixture is reserved to make the topping which also streamlines prep.  I use half whole wheat pastry flour which would help to turn the health needle forward except for all the sugar. (See “Not So Sweet” below.) 

 While we would all do well to cut back on sweets, the tradition of a treat (especially homemade) on special occasions should be enjoyed.  We can banish the fear and guilt by keeping these occasions “special,” and portions reasonable. 

 Not So Sweet

Sugar is in the news and, while the research is fascinating, it’s not good. If you missed it, check out “Is Sugar Toxic?” on 60 Minutes from April 1, 2012 or read the Newsweek cover story “When I Grow Up, I’m Going to Weigh 300 Lbs. Help!” by Gary Taube, May 14, 2012.  If you like biochemistry and can spare 90 minutes, watch a persuasive and entertaining lecture about sugar, particularly sucrose and fructose on youtube by Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco implicating sugar in diseases and conditions in addition to obesity.

 Lemon Cake with Almond Crumb Topping

I use a long microplane grating tool for the lemon zest. My preference is whole natural (with skins) almonds, chopped, but you could substitute sliced or slivered if you like.  If you use a round cake pan, make sure it is at least

 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour*

1 cup all-purpose flour

11/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil

4 teaspoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup fat-free or lowfat unflavored Greek yogurt

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped whole natural almonds

Cinnamon Filling:

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

 Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°.  Oil and flour an 8- x-2-inch square or 9-x-2-inch round pan.  Combine Filling ingredients in small bowl.  Set aside.  In medium mixer bowl stir together whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour and granulated sugar.  With pastry blender or spoon, mix in oil, lemon peel and lemon juice until blended.  Remove 1 cup mixture to separate bowl for crumb topping; stir in almonds.  Set aside.  Mix baking powder, baking soda and salt into remaining flour mixture.  With electric mixer on low speed, beat in yogurt, egg and vanilla extract.  Increase mixing speed to medium and beat for 1 minute or until batter is smooth.  Spoon half of batter into pan.  Sprinkle Filling evenly over batter. Drop spoonfuls of remaining batter evenly over top and spread to an even layer. Sprinkle reserved almond crumb mixture on top.  Bake in middle of oven for 30 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cut into rectangles or wedges to serve.  Makes 10 to 12 servings. 

Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2012

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.


  1. Jane Herlihy says

    Happy Birthday, Lorelle! Every time my birthday rolls around I remember the people I share my special day with. I recalll my first day at work at Fleischmann’s and being astounded when they rolled out a birthday cake. But then it turned out it was YOUR birthday party, not mine. Haha! This memory inspired me to Google you and I found your blog. Looks terrific! I will be signing up as a regular ready and look forward to reading your food news. Have a great birthday today!

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