Lemon, Orange and Almond Savarin Cakes with Grapefruit Sorbet

I have been feeling a bit nostalgic lately and I think it shows in my writing and the inspiration for my recipes...

Almonds remind me of my grandfather. I remember him sitting quietly on an aqua-colored stool we had at the bakery while he peeled kilos and kilos of blanched almonds. Both hands working at once, snapping the hot, blanched almonds between his fingers to remove the skin. Prune-like skin on his finger tips. I remember that clear as day.

This was done mostly around Christmas time to make marzipan and turron. The almonds arrived unshelled but with the skins still on them. They were quickly blanched in boiling water and placed on top of towels to drain while we peeled the skins off the almonds while they were still warm. This becomes an annual ritual and it is still done today.

My grandfather was a slim, meticulous and quiet man. Always liked to be surrounded by family. After all, my grandmother and he raised eight children. The bakery doors were always open and people would come and go all day long. Friends would pop in to say hello and move on with their days. My grandparents always welcomed everyone.

I grew up in the bakery. That’s where we would go after school, that’s where we spent our weekends but I never got to work alongside my grandfather. He started as an apprentice in the renowned patisserie Martina Zuricalday in Bilbao when he was 14 years old. He opened his shop in 1949 and he retired when I was still a child. I often times think how I would have loved to stand next to him and watch him do his craft. A true master. So this recipe is dedicated to the memory of my Aitite Angel who I adored with all my heart.

These cakes also known as pain de genes are made with pure almond paste, eggs and a lot of citrus zest. There’s barely any flour so they are leavened by the air incorporated into the eggs. Very, very spongy and very, very citrus-y.

Of course I had to make some sorbet to go with it because it is scorching hot in Florida and since I had some grapefruit juice in the refrigerator, I thought I could make a sorbet with it and complete the citrus theme with a good finale. I used some of the sorbet to accompany the cake but I also piped some into shot glasses for a sorbet popsicle later on.

When you read through the sorbet recipe, I know many of you will just give up on me completely. Yes, I am using ingredients that are not available in the regular supermarkets. I apologize for that. I realize not everyone has access to these (I got them from L’Epicerie) but you must understand that this grapefruit recipe is the best one I have ever tried and so THIS one is the one I had to make. The atomized glucose which is powdered glucose, makes it completely creamy… hard to explain. There is no crystallization at all. For a conventional grapefuit sorbet recipe, you can use this one.

Lemon, Orange, Almond Pain de Genes

Makes a dozen savarins

200 grams almond paste (50% almond)
4 organic eggs
30 grams unbleached all purpose flour
3 grams baking powder
80 grams organic unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the almond paste, zest with 2 eggs (use paddle attachment at first). When this mixture has turned to a paste, add the rest of the eggs and switch to the whip attachment. Whip the almond paste and eggs to a ribbon (about 5 minutes). Add the flour and baking powder and mix. Add melted butter.

Place the batter in the refrigerator overnight. Place it pastey bag and pipe into savarin mold. bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Grapefruit Sorbet

250 grams unsweetened grapefruit juice
110 grams sugar
60 grams powdered glucose (atomized glucose)
200 grams water
2 grams sorbet stabilizer

Place water in a saucepan and heat slightly. Add the atomized gluzose, whisk and bring to a boil. Mix the sugar and the sorbet stabilizer in a bowl and add to the boiling syrup. Whisk and return syrup to a boil. Remove from heat.

Refrigerate the syrup for at least 4 hours. Add the grapefruit juice to the syrup and churn in ice cream machine. Freeze.

Candied Lemon Slices

1 lemon
50 grams sugar
50 grams water

Make a simple syrup with water and sugar. Cut the lemon into very thin slices, dip them in the cooled simple syrup and place them on a silicon mat. dry the lemon slices in a very low oven (about 200F) for about an hour. Store them in an air-tight container.

This dessert is my entry for this month’s Sugar High Friday which is a blogging event founded by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess and this month’s challenge is hosted by the lovely Helen of Tartelette.

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38 Responses to “Lemon, Orange and Almond Savarin Cakes with Grapefruit Sorbet”

  1. Y says:

    Lovely tribute to your grandfather. I think I would have liked to grow up in a bakery. The smells alone! Did you get treats every day? I used to peel almonds at work, and quite liked the job, but didn’t have to do kilos of it like your grandfather did.

    And..that savarin/cake alone looks so pretty. Is almond paste Marzipan?

  2. Aran says:

    Thank you! It was great to grow up in a bakery. Indeed. A priviledge. Marzipan is made with almond paste and powdered sugar. Almond paste is ground up almonds with some granulated sugar. Here it is sold in regular supermarkets and in fine groceries.

  3. Astrid says:

    Oh Aran, what a lovely post (again and again!) Wonderful, unique childhood memories, and spectacular dessert.

    I forgive you for the atomized glucose (ahem!), though I guess I’ll never be able to achieve this level of sorbet. But it’s good to know how it’s made.

    As for the savarins, I wanted to buy some savarins molds after reading several Sherry Yard recipes in which she makes financiers in these circular shapes and then pipes ganache or whatnot in the middle, for a lovely dessert presentation. But the molds are pretty expensive. Do you use silicone or metal molds?

    Anyway, bravo! When will you open your own pâtisserie?

  4. Aran says:

    Hi Astrid! Thank you so much for your kind words and forgiving me for the atomized glucose, I know, I know… I just worked in a professional kitchen where these were common ingredients and I got used to them. They truly make a great sorbet.
    As for the molds, I use gastroflex’s silicon molds. I love them. I like to work a lot with silicon molds because they are so easy you know? Give them a try!

  5. Tximeleta says:

    Egun on Aran!

    Fantástica receta y estupendas fotos. Lo único que faltaba era una historia tan bonita como la que cuentas.

    Me temo que tendré que dejar de lado el francés y ponerme las pilas con el inglés si quiero disfrutar al 100% de tus recetas.

    Este encuentro casual y tan soprendente me ha encantado. Es un verdadero placer leer tu blog pero sobretodo es una delicia charlar contigo y sorprendernos de tantas coincidencias.

    Mosu handi bat!

  6. Esti says:

    Todavía compro palmeras de chocolate para mis niñas en Zuricalday! Ja, ja
    Qué historia tan preciosa. Mi familia significa mucho para mí y entiendo perfectamente tu nostalgia. Aran, tienes un blog estupendo. La gente adora lo que haces. Te mereces un achuchón y un muxu.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Arantzazu: I adored aitite Angel with all my heart.
    He was so special…
    His goodnes was incredible…
    No tengo duda que él está leyendo lo que escribes y que, curiosamente, te entiende.
    Estás haciendo un trabajo formidable y, en parte, gracias a él.

  8. Bridget says:


    I can just picture your grandfather peeling those almonds. What a lovely post and tribute to him. :)


  9. Wonderful post for your grandfather! Gorgeous cakes and sorbet. I had never heard of a savarin before!

  10. I love reading about the inspiration for your recipes. So beautiful. How wonderful to have that memory of your grandfather.

    I did not know about all the special ingredients. I’m going to have to order some and get to work!

    As always, your pictures are gorgeous.

  11. C.L. says:

    Wonderful post, beautiful recipe, another reason to go to Lepicerie! It was so nice to read more about your grandfather after your comment on my last post. It made his image that much more clear to me. You have some beautiful memories :)


  12. Candace says:

    I can just imagine your grandfather peeling away… such a nice story about him. Your savarins look lovely too!

  13. mimi says:

    lovely story about your grandfather, nice to have those memories. and your savarins look so delish!

    question about the lemon slices: you don’t boil them in the syrup? i’m curious about your different method (in the oven).

  14. francesca says:

    Wonderful photos, the recipe seems to be delicious. This is a beautiful tribute to your grandfather.
    My love for cooking started with my grandfather, he wasn’t a master like your, but I often think of the loving time we spent togheter in his kitchen .
    Thanks for sharing

  15. Aran says:

    Mimi- no I don’t boil the lemon slices. They are so thin that they dry out in the oven really well. I dip them in a simple syrup so they are very sweet. When I make candied lemon zest, then I do boil the zest because it is bitter and because the zest is hard but when I work with the actual pulp of the lemon, there’s no need. Hope that answers your question.
    And thank you everyone for the lovely comments!

  16. Some bulk food stores carry the ingredients needed for the sorbet, too.

  17. Don’t worry about using off the chart ingredients…I love seeing what and how you use them. It’s like I’m in school all over again (but not having to pay 30 thousand…thanks!)

  18. Bakerette says:

    Charming once again! I love hearing about memories from childhood and often times they are related to the tastes and smells we experienced!

  19. diva says:

    i love how it looks and that sorbet sounds so refreshing! mmm.

  20. Mrs.French says:

    You are standing next to him…every time you create your wonderful culinary magic.

  21. Aran, such a lovely story about your grandfather, I still miss mine very much after 4 years of him being gone and loved to spend hours in the garden with him when I was a child tending his tomato plants, the smell of thyme still reminds me of him!!!

    A gorgeous recipe and this is a cake I know I will try as my 2 favourite ingredients citrus and almonds are in it!

  22. linda says:

    Beautiful post about your grandfather. And a beautiful dessert too!

  23. Mobula says:

    Babeo delante de la pantalla sólo de ver todas estas delicias que nos regalas… savarín y sorbete que estupenda combinación!!!!



  24. Suzana says:

    Aran, what a moving post, and such a wonderful homage to your grandfather As I see it, he lives through you and your creations, every time you bake or think of ingredients put together or how to make them fit. :)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Aran, leyendo este post y recordando otros tuyos acabo de descubrir que el único secreto de tus fantásticas recetas es el AMOR que pones en hacerlas y para las fotos tan extraordinarias es la NOSTALGIA con la que las miras. La memoria es nuestra mejor cámara fotográfica. PERFECTO.
    Anna de Girona, tu fan catalana.

  26. Eileen says:

    What beautiful, beautiful memories, Aran. And what beautiful photos.

    Eileen (passions to pastry)@

  27. pea & pear says:

    Aran, I share a similar memory of my pop shelling pods of peas. Sitting on the back step on the farm with buckets of beautiful green peas. When ever I smell green peas I think of him, he is the pea of my pea & pear.
    Thanks for sharing

  28. nicisme says:

    Lovely post Aran. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Gloria says:

    Hermosas fotos y delicioso Aran!!! how ever!!! xxGloria

  30. Ann says:

    As always, a very wonderful post and sweets that are a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. I’m quite convinced you should come and cook for me. :-)

  31. Yumm this looks great! I love your blog because you introduces me to foods I’ve never had before.

  32. Kelly-Jane says:

    A lovely post, and wonderful pictures, the candied fruit looks like glass almost :)

  33. PheMom says:

    This all looks so beautiful! I actually just peeled almonds for the first time yesterday and was happy to find out it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be.

  34. Lina says:

    I love your blog! Your photos are absolutley amazing! Im adding you to my list of links!

  35. i’m now doing a bow down to you. This is such a beautiful dessert. So well made, and such nice presentation. I would love to have this.

  36. What gorgeous memories you have. No wonder you sometimes feel nostalgic.

    I love savarin and I love citrus. This dessert is so clever and so lovely. I can almost taste the sharp flavor of that grapefruit!

  37. Another wonderful recipe and a well written post. Again, this is another must-try for me :)

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