Almond Lemon Tea Cake

I would apologize for being gone for so long, but I think that my junior year has to apologize for me. Between all of my classes at school, classes at MSM, gymnastics, AND standardized testing, I haven’t had much time to do anything. I love everything that I’m doing this year though, so it’s more of a way of me figuring out how to balance everything while still getting to bed before midnight. It’s not exactly easy, but I’m making my way through!

While everyone else is baking pumpkin things like crazy, I thought I’d bring you an incredibly delicious and simple Almond-Lemon Tea Cake from Tartine. Unlike most almond baked goods, this one uses no almond extract, but instead gets a deep almond flavor from almond paste, or marzipan. While it does make it a little denser then a “cake” cake, it gets more of a pound cake quality, making it perfect for breakfast, snack, or dessert. So if you’re just not feeling the pumpkin, this beautiful cake will fit the bill perfectly.

Almond Lemon Tea Cake- Makes one 9’x5′ loaf


  • 3 1/4 oz pastry or cake flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7 ounces almond paste, at room temperature
  • 7 ounces sugar
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Sift together the flour and baking powder twice. In a small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla and whisk together just to combine. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste on low speed until it breaks up. This can take up to a minute, depending on how soft and warm it is. Slowly add the sugar in a steady stream, beating until incorporated. If you add the sugar too quickly, the past won’t break up as well.
  3. Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon sized pieces. Continue on low speed while adding the butter, a tablespoon at a time for about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Then turn the mixer onto medium speed and beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. With the mixer still on medium speed, add the eggs in a very low, steady stream and mix until incorporated. Stop the mixer again and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn on the mixer to medium speed and mix for another 30 seconds. Add the citrus zests and mix with a wooden spoon. Finally, add the flour mixture in 2 batches, stirring after each addition until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one last time, and then spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula.
  4. Bake until the top springs back when lightly toughed and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5-7 minutes before removing.

It’s just good. Really, really good.

-Rayna 🙂



Lemon-Limoncello Cupcakes

Hello again! Sorry for the delayed post, but I’ve been trying to adjust to my new junior year schedule! I’m doing all of the same things that I did last year (school, gymnastics, and viola) but it was just getting into the swing of it that took some work. But now I’m practically settled in, so more regular posting should occur. There are some weeks that I’m overflowed with work so I won’t be able to post, but I’m hoping those aren’t going to happen too often!

One of the most exciting things that has happened is me starting up music school again, which I adore. I’ve met so many incredibly talented people here that I just love. My schedule is packed (I’m taking 6 classes and my day goes from 9-6) but I love everything I’m in. A new class I’m taking this year is an introduction to music of the 20th and 21st century, which is something that I’m not too familiar with but excited to learn more about more modern music.

Now onto these cupcakes. I’ve seen them over on Brown Eyed Baker for awhile now, but I was just waiting for the right occasion to make them. Once my mom decided to make it her project to make some delicious homemade limoncello at the beginning of the summer, I know that these would be fantastic. The tartness of the limoncello doesn’t take over too much and you still get that lovely lemon flavor. Yes, please!

Lemon Limoncello Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes


For the Cupcake

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon

For the Lemon Curd

  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk

For the Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon limoncello
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted


  1. Prepare the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and  baking powder; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the limoncello and beat an additional minute. On low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.
  2. Prepare the lemon curd: In a heavy medium saucepan, stir together the lemon zest, juice and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk. Whisk the lemon mixture into the eggs to temper them. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let cool completely.
  3. Prepare the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the limoncello and beat for an additional minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth.
  4. Assemble the cupcakes: Cut a hole into each cupcake with the large end of a melon baller or the back end of a large pastry tip. Fill each cavity with the lemon curd. Fill a pastry bag with a star tipwith the cream cheese limoncello frosting and pipe onto each cupcake. If you don’t have a pastry bag, a ziploc bag with a small hole cut out will work as well. Decorate with lemon and berries, if desired.

Don’t you just love summer recipes?

-Rayna 🙂



Whole Grain Lemon Cake with Lemon Buttercream

This week hasn’t been anything too unusual. I went to gymnastics, I did some yoga, practiced some viola. Nothing too out of the ordinary. The only exception being that I wasn’t the one that did the baking in our house this week! My mom recently entered a recipe contest that involves making 2 desserts with apples. My mom always has tons of ideas, so each recipe had multiple components, which I have been helping her make. I’ve made shortbread doughs, put together some cookies, and of course, being a taste tester. 😉

This cake is something special. Over Memorial Day weekend, my mom had a few of her culinary school friends come up. There was a ton of delicious food, ranging from pork butt wrapped in banana leaves to let cook for a few hours, shrimp skewers that were thrown on the grill in a ginger marinade, and of course, many stages of dessert. A few of the cakes that we made were absolutely spectacular, and this is one of them. Don’t be fooled by the whole grain part of it, this cake from King Arthur’s Flour is not something to overlook. The cake was not too dense and you got enough of the lemon flavor without it being overpowering. I added some delicious jams we had in the house as the fillings between the layers, and it was outstanding with the lemon flavor (I added lingonberry and blackberry jam). This is a great cake for a summer brunch or get together, or to just relax outside on a weekday night. Enjoy!

Whole Grain Lemon Cake with Lemon Buttercream

Makes 1 3 layer 9″ Cake or 1 13″ by 9″ Sheet


  • 7 5/8 ounces whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 1/4 ounces all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 12 1/4 ounces granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, or 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) milk
  • 1/4 cup (3 oz) seedless jam of your choice


For the Batter

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare the pan(s) of your choice.
  2. Whisk together the flours, baking soda and baking powder in a medium bowl. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the lemon zest. Mix half of the flour mixture in, and then mix in the lemon juice and milk. Add the rest of the flour mixture. Scrape the sides to make sure there are no dry/wet spots.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Level the top of the batter with an offset spatula or a spoon.
  4. Bake Times- for 8″ cake- 20-22 minutes. 9″ cake- 27-30 minutes. 13″x9″ cake- 35-38 minutes.
  5. The cake is done when it is an even golden brown and it starts to pull back from the edges of the pan. Let cool for 20 minutes before removing the layers from the pan, and wait until completely cooled before frosting.

For the Buttercream- makes 4 1/2 cups


  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 4-5 cups (1- 1 1/4 pounds) confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup milk or cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Beat the butter until fluffy in a stand mixer. Add half of the sugar and beat until well blended. Add the vanilla,  lemon juice, and half of the milk or cream and beat until fluffy. Mix in the remaining sugar and milk, alternating until they are completely incorporated, and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Fold in the lemon zest.

To Assemble the Cake

  1. Place one layer, bottom side up on a plate. Spread with a thin layer of the jam of your choice. Place another layer on top, bottom side up. Spread another layer of jam. Place the final layer, bottom side up. Frost with the Lemon Buttercream above.

I’m drooling just thinking about it!

-Rayna 🙂





Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

Let’s face it, the smaller something is, the more adorable it is. Babies are cute, puppies, kittens, and even short people! (We prefer petite ;D) And this theory is no exception to muffins. Mini muffins are those adorable 2 bite snacks that you know you can’t resist. So when I saw a recipe for Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins in The Biggest Loser Cookbook, they had to be made. Because they were miniature.

When my soon-to-be-chef mom took my sister, my best friend and I into the city to buy the products for culinary school, I just had to get a few baking gadgets while I was there. :). So along came the mini muffin pan, and a doughnut pan too! (A.K.A. What I’m making tomorrow for breakfast!) I love the mini muffin pan, it’s something you should look into.

On with the muffins!

Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

Makes 28 Mini Muffins


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup honey (I used blueberry honey! Don’t use Agave though!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Poppy Seeds (you can vary from as little as 2 teaspoons to about 2/3 cup, depending on how poppy seedy you like your muffins!)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray the mini muffin tin.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, egg whites, honey and vanilla extract until well mixed.
  4. Pour in the flour mixture in 2 parts until incorporated. Add in the lemon zest, juice, and poppy seeds. Mix until just incorporated.
  5. Scoop into the pans and bake for 9-11 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in a center muffin. Cool for 5 minutes then enjoy!

Yummy and adorable, what more could you want?

-Rayna 🙂