Cakelets and Doilies. This is such an elegant dessert and reminds me of snooty high society ladies back then sipping tea and eating cakes.
Of course, these upper class women were probably evaluated and critiqued too if they wore an unfashionable dress or weren't knowledgeable enough on the latest gossip or had an almond from their cake stuck in their teeth. And their careers (ie political statuses and marriages) probably depended just as much, or not more, on their superiors' evaluations. Talk about high stakes!
Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup castor/superfine sugar (ie ground granulated sugar)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon zest
4 eggs, separated and at room temperature (easier to separate eggs when cold)
2 1/2 cups ground almonds
Packed 1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, not fat free
Flaked almonds and confectioner's sugar, to decorate
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan.
Beat the butter, 1/2 cup caster sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until fully combined. Add the almond meal and beat to combine. Fold ricotta through the almond meal mixture.
Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with a hand-held electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar to the egg whites mixture and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently and gradually fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and top cake with almond flakes. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife just comes clean, but do not overbake. I put foil on after 30 min to prevent the edges from browning too quickly; another option is a water bath. Let cool completely in the cake tin. Dust with icing sugar to serve.