Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Five-Star Almond Cake

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Judging by the frequency of the dessert recipes I’ve been posting lately, you’d think that all I eat are sweets. (Well, actually you wouldn’t be too far off the mark.) But I just had to bake this cake, which I also ate at the annual picnic of my Italian chit-chat group, “Le Matte.” My friend Maria, a member of the group, brought this stellar dessert but unfortunately, I never got a photo of it last week.  I’ve been bugging her for this recipe for more than a year, so when she sent it to me following the picnic, I had no choice but to bake it in order to photograph it for you. Truth be told, it tastes so divine,  I was compelled by forces greater than nature to make this. Who am I to resist with those kinds of powers?

Maria warned that the cake may sink a little in the middle and mine was no exception. I’m not sure how to remedy this, so if you have any ideas, send ‘em my way. In any case, the rich almond flavor and moist texture makes this a delicious dessert all on its own, but if you want to gild the lily, serve it with berries or a scoop of ice cream.  

Addendum: Following a reader’s suggestion, I baked the cake again, altering the preparation, and lowering the oven temperature as well. It worked out PERFECTLY with nary a dip or valley in the cake. Rather than beat with a mixer for a long time, as the original recipe called for, I used a stick blender to mash the almond paste and butter together. It kept too much air from being incorporated into the batter, which was my goal, but I think a food processor would work equally well. This method not only produces a level cake, but it’s so much faster and easier too. So follow this if you want the same results. The picture on top and at the bottom of this post were of the first cake, and you can tell the cake has a slight dip in the middle. It was delicious nonetheless. But here’s a shot of the cake I made with the altered preparation instructions, cooking temperature and time. Here’s what it looked like out of the oven, with nary a dip or valley in sight:

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Five-Star Almond Cake

2 sticks butter, leave at room temp. until VERY soft

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (measure after sifting)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup sugar

7-ounce tube almond paste, at room temp. until soft

4 egg yolks, room temperature

1 teaspoon almond extract (I do not use this but use vanilla extract)

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup slivered almonds, optional

Powdered sugar for sifting over cake

Oven 300

1. Butter sides and bottoms of 2 8-inch spring form pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter paper. Place pans in freezer

2. Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a medium-size bowl. Set aside.

3. In a food processor, place almond paste and butter and pulse until smooth. Add sour cream, egg yolks, almond extract and sugar and whir until blended.

4. Take the  mixture out of the food processor and place in a bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir with a spatula or a spoon just until blended.

5. Divide batter between prepared pans and spread evenly.

(I added slivered almonds on top here.)

6. Bake 1 hour and 5 or 10 minutes or more until tops are golden and spring back when lightly pressed and cakes shrink from sides of the pans.

7. Cool in pans on wire rack. Remove sides of pans and paper.

8. Sift powdered sugar on top before serving and slice like a pie.

The cake improves with age but is fabulous the same day.

Yield: 2 cakes, 8 to 10 servings each.

June 2009 079


  1. It looks really good...and I love sweets as well...so I really don't mind seeing lots of sweets..

  2. What a gorgeous looking almond cake, it looks just wonderful, I would love the almond flavor!

  3. Your cakes does look delicious Linda. It rminds me of one of the few cakes I make.

  4. Linda, besides figs, almonds are my favorite.
    Can you make me an almond fig tart this summer?
    Your photos are tantalizing!

  5. This sounds great with the almond paste and sour cream! Love the sliced almonds on top too.

  6. Linda this looks delicious! I love these rustic almond cakes, a little slice satisfies the craving and they make me feel like I'm in tuscany :)
    About the sinkage... I'm actually surprised it sinks, since it doesn't looks like a "light and fluffly" batter, i mean, without eggwhites, there's not much air incorporated in. I'm thinking try beating the butter less, even making it by hand with a wooden spoon might help. Another option may be lower the temp to 300 and bake for 60 min.

  7. I can't stop staring at the last photo. This cake looks divine!

  8. Oh! I love almond desserts! Looks fabulous!

    While some cakes are meant to sink a bit (fat-rich ones especially), it could be that the heavy almond paste, butter and sour cream can't get enough lift from one teaspoon of baking soda - just a guess.

  9. I could eat this one! A hot cup of coffee or tea would pair with it perfectly. Great pictures of your sweet dessert.

  10. Looks delicious and so moist. I love the flavor of almond. A beautiful rustic cake!

  11. That looks so moist and delicious! I love almond!!

  12. I love almond paste...I am looking for a recipe that I can follow and it seems that I found. Love the taste of it. Your cake looks fabulous...yummie!

  13. What a gorgeous cake! I love almond flavor, so I know I would enjoy this. Looks great!

  14. round 1 looks fine and dandy, and round 2 looks perfect! it's so moist, and i'm sure the flavor of almond is outstanding. and yes, i will gild the lily with some ice cream, thank you very much. :)

  15. That just looks plain scrumptious!Almond paste, with all those toasty almonds on top! I have to make this for my Amici group next time we get together.

  16. This looks like an amazing cake, I love anything that involves almond paste.

  17. This is the kind of cake Greeks would serve too. We love nuts in desserts & cakes.

  18. Oh! I have to make this for sure because I adore any recipe with almond paste.

  19. i'd give you 10 stars for that beauty!

  20. This was indeed a "Five Star" recipe. I had made a very similar one that had corn meal and without sour cream. Yours sounded interesting since it had twice the Almond paste (my new favorite ingredient) Almond Extract and sour cream. I had the same problem with it falling in the middle but the incredible taste well overcomes that minor fopaux. Thanks for an incredible and beautiful cake recipe. It was moist and delicious! GREAT Almond taste!

  21. Hello Linda,

    Your Easter menu is delicious.
    This cake is spectacular, I am going to try it today since have all the ingredients for it...
    Thanks for sharing the Italy you love with us.

  22. Absolutely beautiful, and delicious no doubt, almonds and sweets go so amazingly well together. Greeks made a cookie called kourembiethes similar to this cake that are dense, buttery, almond flavored and have a light dusting of powdered sugar. Something about powdered sugar and almond flavoring must go hand in hand!

  23. Hi Linda,

    I made your cake last week it was moist and delicious. Thanks for sharing


  24. Can this beautiful cake be made in a Bundt pan
    I don't have 2 regular cake pans. I in no way want to insult the cake or the baker. I found the perfect recipe and this is it.

  25. to anonymous - I've never tried it in a bundt cake, but I think it would work and the hole in the bundt might actually work to this cake's advantage. Don't expect it to be really high like the average bundt cake though.