The “gató” is a cake that Majorcans reserve for special occasions, a sweet treat to enjoy at family and friends’ gatherings. And a celebration of the best local produce: almonds, citrus, and dairy. It is traditionally served with a scoop of almond ice cream, but I think adding a sharp citrus curd works very well in balancing the level of sweetness. Adding some salted caramelised almonds in the ice cream is another slight departure from the traditional recipe, but it brings some crunchiness and an interesting touch of salt to the mix.
I am very fond of this cake recipe, as it was passed down to me by Bárbara, Estefanía’s late grandmother. She used to explain to me how labour-intensive it was to make this cake back in the day, as they had to beat the egg whites by hand. No wonder they saved making the cake for special occasions, when several members of the family could share the effort. “You have to use almonds from Majorca, it’s not the same otherwise” she used to say. Ideally, yes, Majorcan almonds are actually one of the star produce of the island. Not easy to get hold of them in London, though. Nonetheless, whichever almonds you use, this will be a very satisfying gluten-free cake that can be enjoyed on its own with a glass of milk, or with a scoop of ice cream as a dessert.
I made my first “gató” with Bárbara and I will always remember her when I bake one, same as I remember my grandmother Pura whenever I make Asturian rice pudding. Thanks to the grandmas for sharing the love, and the recipes.
250 g Ground Almonds
225 g White Sugar
6 Eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 Lemon, rind only
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
Heat oven at 180° C/ 170° Fan
Mix the egg yolks with most of the sugar (reserve around 50 g), the lemon rind, and the cinnamon.
In a different bowl, beat the egg whites (use an electric whisk if you have one!), adding the reserved sugar after a couple of minutes. They must achieve a firm consistency, as if to make meringue.
Take about a third of the egg whites and whisk into the egg yolk mixture. Then, start folding in the rest of the egg whites using a spatula, careful to keep the air on the mix.
Line the bottom of a 23 cm springform cake tin with baking paper and butter the sides. Bake for around 45-50 minutes until the top of the cake is firm to the touch.
Place in a cooling rack and resist eating it until it is completely cool!
Almond Ice Cream
500 ml Double Cream
420 ml Full-fat Milk
130 g Sugar
4 Egg Yolks
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract (optional)
100 g Ground Almonds
For the roasted caramelised almonds:
100 g Blanched Almonds
70 g Sugar
2 Tbsp Water
4 g Salt
Heat half of the cream and the milk in a pan until nearly boiling point, and take off the heat for a moment. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the egg yolks with the sugar, vanilla, and a few drops of almond extract if desired.
Take a couple of spoonfuls of the hot cream mix and whisk into the egg mixture to temper it. Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the cream and milk and return to a low heat. Cook until the mixture thickens, but preventing it from boiling, as it will curdle. Once the mix coats the spoon, transfer to a container after passing through a sieve.
Add the ground almonds and leave the mix to cool down. Then place in the fridge until very cold. This should take 3 to 4 hours or, best even, overnight.
Make the caramelised almonds: heat the oven at 180°and roast the blanched almonds for around 10 minutes until they have a golden colour; chop the almonds into small pieces; place the sugar and water in a pan and heat without stirring until getting a golden caramel; then, add the salt and briefly stir the chopped almonds until coated; transfer onto a sheet lined with baking parchment and reserve.
Once the custard mix is very cold, transfer into the ice cream machine and add the caramelised almonds half way through the churning process.
Place the churned ice cream in a container and put in the freezer for at least 2 hours until completely set.
1 Egg Yolk
60 g Unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 Lemon, rind and juice
1 Mandarin or 1/2 Orange, rind and juice
Place a large bowl over a saucepan with hot water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bowl directly. Put all the ingredients in the bowl and turn the heat on to medium. Whisk continuously until the mix thickens to a custard texture. Then, take off the heat and pass through a fine sieve. Chill and reserve.