Generally, job perks come in the form of such things as flexible schedules, casual Fridays or tuition reimbursement. My new job as Source editor seems to have come with an unexpected and singularly apt perk – a steady supply of eggs from a generous colleague. Or, rather, from her generous chickens.
It’s hard to say what I like best about this: The little thrill when I arrive at work to find a dozen on my desk? The little thrill when I open the carton at home at breakfast time and pause to appreciate that eggs are individuals – long and skinny, short and rounder, blue, brown, one or two with tiny fluffy feathers clinging to the shells? Or maybe it’s the thrill of cracking them open? Because these yolks are real lookers, as orange as oranges and perfectly convex.
It would be obvious to anyone with eyes in their head that these chickens are happy gals. And their eggs turn up with regularity on my desk. At this time of year with alarming regularity. The days are elongating, and the light triggers laying.
There are many things to cook and bake when life gives you eggs, among them this wonderful six-egg cake from Boston chef Jody Adams. It tastes sort of like a big, soft almond cookie. It’s chewy, pleasantly dense, and the lemon curd adds a bright note and a pretty color. The recipe makes about a cup more curd than you’ll need for the cake. You could spread it on toast, stir it into yogurt or fold it into whipped cream with berries to make a fool. Or you could put it into a jar and give it to your colleague who was nice enough to give you all these eggs to begin with. Thank you, Wendy.
LEMON CURD ALMOND CAKE
Adapted from Jody Adams’ “In the Hands of a Chef.” You can replace the wheat germ with flour, but I put it in there in the first place to fool myself into thinking the cake is good for me. The turbinado sugar isn’t absolutely necessary, but its crunch makes the cake even more special. Store any leftover curd in the refrigerator.
Yield: 6 to 8 slices.
For the lemon curd:
Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
For the cake:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup sugar, scant
1 cup flour minus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup toasted and ground almonds
Smattering of sliced almonds
About 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
To make the curd: Bring a small pot of water to simmer. Find a bowl that can fit over, not in, the pot; you don’t want the bowl to touch the water. Combine the zest and juice, sugar, eggs and salt in the bowl. Add the butter. Place over the simmering water and stir. Keep stirring – don’t walk away or turn the heat up or the eggs may scramble.
When the curd thickens and can coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes, remove the bowl and pour the curd through a fine-meshed sieve. Chill the curd while you prepare the cake; it will thicken as it cools. (You can make it up to a week ahead.)
To make the cake: Grease an 8-inch cake pan and line with parchment. Grease and flour the parchment. Set aside. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Whisk together the dry ingredients, then stir them into the butter-sugar mixture.
Lightly beat the eggs, but don’t overbeat or the cake will be tough. Stir, but don’t over-stir, the eggs and almond meal into the batter. It will be stiff, more like cookie dough than cake batter. Spread the batter evenly in the cake pan.
Drop dollops of chilled lemon curd over the top of the cake, but stay away from the edges of the pan. You will use just a little of the curd, about a 1/2 cup at most. Scatter the almonds over the curd, and the sugar over the almonds. Bake for about 50 minutes until the cake is golden brown. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. De-pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack before eating.