Published April 11, 2007.
Almond cake may be a simple and humble Italian dessert, but it's also remarkably versatile and a natural make-ahead dessert.
There are many types of almond cakes, with a staggering number of optional ingredients—bitter versus sweet almonds, marzipan, polenta.
We wanted to make a great cake with simple, easy-to-find ingredients and a procedure to match.
Our first decision was to build our cake around sweet almonds, which (unlike bitter almonds) were easy to find in the supermarket. Once in the kitchen, the first problem was to determine the percentage of flour to almonds—the answer proved to be 3/4 cup of flour and 3 1/2 cups of ground almonds. Any more flour and the cake lost its appealing rustic texture, but any less and the cake was too moist and heavy. We also chose cake flour rather than all-purpose—it gave the cake a welcome lightness without sacrificing pure almond flavor. We found that a total of 1 1/4 cups of sugar was plenty, though we did need to add the sugar in two steps, (we added the first 1/2 cup to the almonds when we ground them in the food processor to prevent the almonds from turning into nut butter). One half teaspoon of baking powder provided just the right lift and three eggs kept the cake from sagging in the middle. And one half cup of milk gave the batter just the right texture for spreading. To top the cake, a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar and/or a dollop of whipped cream gave us a finished product with very little effort.list of recipes