HomeRecipesBergamot Lemon Almond Custard Cake by Chona Piumarta

Bergamot Lemon Almond Custard Cake by Chona Piumarta

(This recipe appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

This cake combines everything I love in a dessert. The texture from the sweet custard-soaked cake, paired with the tartness of the lemon and sour cherries, is perfect on a cold day. Bergamot lemons offer a slightly peppery flavor to this cake, but you can substitute any variety of lemon or other citrus, if you like.

Yield:  One 10ʺ (25.4 cm) cake

Bergamot Lemon Almond Pound Cake

  • 180 g all-purpose flour
  • 180 g cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 236 ml buttermilk
  • 44.4 ml fresh Bergamot lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs almond extract
  • 454 g unsalted butter
  • 400 g granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs Bergamot lemon zest
  • 128 g eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F (177˚C). Spray 9ʺ x 5ʺ loaf pans and line each with strip of parchment paper, running along the length of the pan. Spray the paper.
  1. Triple-sift the flours, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
  1. Combine the buttermilk, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract in a small bowl and set aside.
  1. Paddle the butter on high speed until soft and creamy, about 1 minute.
  1. Slowly add the sugar and lemon zest and beat on high speed until fully incorporated and the mixture is fluffy, light, and a creamy white color, about 10 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure that each egg is completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of bowl between each addition. Add one-third of the sifted dry ingredients to the batter and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Add one-third of the buttermilk mixture until just incorporated. Repeat with the remaining ingredients making sure that each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next.
  1. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans on a rack for 5-10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the pans and set on the rack to cool. Meanwhile, make the syrup (recipe below). While the cakes are still warm, poke holes all over the tops with a skewer or fork. Using a pastry brush, liberally apply the lemon syrup over the tops of the cakes.

Lemon Syrup

  • 85 ml fresh Bergamot lemon juice
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  1. Bring the lemon juice and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring. Cook until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Reserve 2-3 Tbs of the syrup for the top of the finished cake.

Vanilla Custard

  • 1420 ml heavy cream
  • 709 ml whole milk
  • 2 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 608 g eggs, room temperature
  • 225 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs kosher salt
  1. Combine the cream, milk and vanilla in a container; set aside.
  1. Whisk together the eggs and sugar to the ribbon stage, until it’s light and fluffy.
  1. Add the ginger, cinnamon and salt, and mix at a slower speed. Continue to whip until well mixed.
  1. Slowly whisk the egg mixture into the container of milk mixture; continue to whisk until well combined. Store in cooler.


  • Dried sour cherries or cranberries for top of cake
  • 100 g sliced almonds, toasted
  1. Spray the bottom of a 10ʺ (25.4 cm) cake pan and line with parchment paper. Place the pan on a sheet pan.
  1. Cut the pound cake into 1ʺ (2.5 cm) -thick slabs, then cut the slabs in half, saving all crumbs and pieces. Set aside the nicest pieces for the top layer of the cake.
  1. Line the bottom of the cake pan with all the broken pieces and crumbs. Sprinkle on some of the toasted almonds, distributing them evenly. Repeat the process until the top layer reaches just under the sides of the cake pan. Arrange the top pieces of pound cake in a decorative fashion. Strategically place sour cherries or cranberries on top, then sprinkle with toasted almonds. Pour custard slowly over the surface, making sure all the pieces are soaked with the custard. Cover with foil and store in cooler for at least 2 hours – the cake pieces will absorb the custard and should be moist to the touch; if necessary, add more custard.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (177˚C). Bake the cake, covered with the foil, for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake the cake for another 20 to 35 minutes, until the center is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the pan. Brush the top of the cake with the Lemon Syrup. Cool, then unmold. The cake can be served warm with ice cream or cold with freshly whipped cream. Garnish with toasted almonds.

About Chona Piumarta

Chona Piumart is the pastry chef and owner of The Pastry Cupboard in San Francisco, California. Her mother’s amazing cuisine at their family’s restaurant in the Philippines influenced her early cooking. Chef Chona’s style evolved over time due to working with other chefs who helped her refine her palette of textures and flavors. She now characterizes her style as thoughtful by design. The majority of it is achieved by showcasing the season’s flavors using simple approaches that result in colorful, balanced plates with a touch of drama when needed.

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