I have a huge bag of almonds. I know it’s not Easter yet, so I guess I have no excuse to make chocolate covered almonds. Humm, don’t give me ideas, ok?
Instead, I found an incredible recipe for almond cake, just like the kind of the almond filling little tarts easy to find in any pastry all over Portugal. There was a time when I used to eat those a lot. A lot!
This cake is so rich and moist that you wouldn’t believe. And that’s because it has no flour! Really, not a single dash of flour, unless the one used to coat the pan, but you could even skip that one. The base for this cake is the almond paste.
Three cups of whole almonds. Now visualize the health benefits of that for your skin. You know your skin loves the Vitamin E found in almonds, right? To help smooth wrinkles and improve complexion with its essential fatty acids. Not that I think you have any wrinkles. I’m sure you have none. Just like me, none.
Alright, now with that clear, let me tell you why I choose whole almonds with skins instead of the blanched ones. First of all, whole is always better. In the almond case, the skin is what has more health benefits because of its flavonoids, that thing known to be antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and anti-cancer commonly found in dark chocolate, red wine, tea and citrus fruits. Now, you don’t want to skip the skin anymore, do you?
The cake has this brownish color inside exactly because of the almond skin, but as it is so well crumbed you won’t feel it. Together with the butter, the almonds turn into this deeply succulent result and the light whisked egg whites helps to sustain its softness. Oh, if I tell you about the intense scent of almonds and lemon zest around the kitchen while I was baking this! A perfect aromatic bouquet. I was savoring the final cake just with the aroma.
I topped this slice with two scoops of a nicely fresh whipping heavy cream. Good combination, don’t you think?
Almond Cake (slightly adapted from David Leite’s Portuguese Almond Torte)
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus a little more for greasing the pan)
Flour, for coating the pan
3 cups whole almonds (with skin)
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large yolks
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 large egg whites
Position the rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper, and grease the paper and the sides of the pan. Coat the pan with flour and tap out the excess.
Press the almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor until the consistency of fine cornmeal. Add the butter and pulse to combine. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer in a big bowl, beat 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the yolks on medium-high until very light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add the zest, salt, and cinnamon and mix until incorporated. Whirl in the almond mixture and almond extract.
In an impeccably clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy then slowly whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until the whites form soft, luscious peaks. Plop a spatulaful into the almond mixture and stir to lighten. Carefully fold in the remainder of the whites until no streaks show. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
Bake until the cake is golden brown and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let rest for 5 minutes before releasing the cake from the pan.