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This easy summer dessert is perfect for the Fourth of July

On a short trip to London late in the spring , I had the pleasure of dining at Honey & Co., the first solo venture of two Ottolenghi alums, the Israeli couple Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. Their tiny Middle Eastern eatery now has siblings: a second, larger restaurant called Honey & Smoke, a little shop called Honey & Spice — all three within a small radius — and four cookbooks, the most recent of which, “Honey & Co: At Home,” is out this month.

Dinner was scrummy (a word I learned on the trip!), ending with a dessert I chose from the pretty selection on display at the back of the dining room. It was a dense orange-almond cake, and before I even tasted it I recognized it as a version of the popular recipe in “The Book of Jewish Food” by Claudia Roden. I’d made that cake a number of times. (It happens to be flourless, making it excellent at Passover or when anyone’s gluten-free.) As I nibbled, I wondered whether I could adapt it, swapping summer fruit for the citrus.

The answer turned out to be a resounding yes. Since the original recipe called for two large oranges, I weighed those, then used the same measure — 1 pound — for strawberries. A few tiny tweaks later I had my seasonal dessert.

Thinking of this as a potential cake for the Fourth of July, I topped it with whipped cream, along with red and blue berries. My son Rex was born on the Fourth of July and is, therefore, an authority on Independence Day cakes; he declared this to be one of the best he’d ever had. We ate the leftovers for breakfast, since the simple combination of almonds, berries and cream (along with six eggs in the batter) made it a near-perfect morning meal.

The first time I made Roden’s orange cake I used Bob’s Red Mill almond flour rather than grinding the nuts myself. I don’t recommend this, since the packaged flour is too fine, yielding a puddinglike consistency to the cake. You will have the food processor out, in any case, to purée the fruit, so use it first, to turn raw almonds into a coarse meal.

When the weather changes I’ll go back to citrus — or perhaps try my luck with different fruit. But this version is, without question, a new summer-dessert staple.

Image by Liza Schoenfein

Strawberry-Almond Cake

This is a summertime adaptation of a classic almond-based cake by Claudia Roden in which strawberries sub in for the oranges called for in the original recipe. Dressed up in red, white and blue for the 4th of July, this delicious flourless dessert makes the most of summer’s bounteous berries.

1 pound strawberries, trimmed and rinsed

1½ cups raw almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

6 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons strawberry water (see Step 2) or bottled rose water

1 cup whipped cream

A combination of berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.

  2. Boil 4 cups of water in a medium pot and add the strawberries. Simmer on high heat, covered, for about 10 minutes. Remove the strawberries with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove 2 tablespoons of the strawberry-infused water and set aside.

  3. Note: If at this point you would like to make strawberry syrup to mix with seltzer or cocktails, simmer the strawberry water, uncovered, until it has reduced by half, add 1½ cups of sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Cool and store in the refrigerator.

  4. In a food processor, grind the almonds until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Remove 2 tablespoons and set aside for later use. Add baking powder to the almonds in the food processor, and pulse a few times to incorporate.

  5. Place strawberries in the food processor with the ground almonds, add strawberry water or rose water, and purée until smooth.

  6. In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Mix well. Add strawberry-almond mixture and stir to incorporate.

  7. Oil a 9-inch springform pan and dust it with 2 tablespoons of reserved ground almonds (or use flour or gluten-free flour). Pour batter into pan and bake on middle rack of oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until top of cake is brown and cake seems fully set. Let cool completely before sliding a knife around the circumference, turning cake carefully onto a plate and then onto a serving platter so that browned side is up.

  8. Garnish and serve.

Image by Liza Schoenfein

Liza Schoenfein is the Forward’s senior food writer. Follow her on Instagram, @LifeDeathDinner

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