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So, a few days ago, I had a random craving for almond cake. I have never made one before, but I decided that I needed to, right away. So yesterday, I got to it! I decided to use america's test kitchen's different approach for making the cake. Most recipes I cam across use marzipan. Don't get me wrong, I love marzipan, but I was afraid it would make the cake dense. Although, it probably adds wonderful flavor. The recipe I used, uses toasted ground almonds and almond extract instead. I like the idea of the flavor coming from the almonds themselves, instead of a sweetened paste version. Anyway! On to how fabulous this tasted!
This cake was everything my cravings were looking for. It was sweet, moist, fluffy and amazing. There is a lovely addition of lemon zest, which, I think, really adds more levels of flavor to the cake. The almonds layered on the top give a wonderful crunch to the cake. As well as a beautiful presentation! This cake makes a wonderful adddtion to eat alongside coffee for a mid-morning snack, or, you could spruce it up a little and serve it for an easy dessert with softly, fresh, whipped cream. Any way you want it, I won't judge if you eat several slices at once. I mean- I may or may not have had two slices yesterday...
1 1/2 cups, plus 1/3 cup sliced almonds (blanched or unblanched)
3/4 cup ( 3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) plus 2 Tablespoons sugar, divided
1 Tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, divided
1 teaspoon almond extract
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup vegetable or grapeseed oil
Place the almonds in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until the almonds are fragrant and golden, 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 300ºF. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Place 1 1/2 cups of the toasted almonds, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a food processor. Pulse 5-10 times until the almonds are finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
In the now empty food processor, place the eggs, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, and almond extract. Process until very pale, about 2 minutes. With the processor still running, add in the melted butter and oil in a steady stream. Process until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add in the almond/flour mixture and pulse until completely combined, 4-5 pulses. Transfer batter to prepared cake pan.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Mix with your fingers until fragrant. Sprinkle the top of the cake batter evenly with the remaining 1/3 cup almonds and then the sugar mixture.
Place the cake in the oven and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until the cake is springy when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Then, invert onto a wire rack, remove parchment paper from bottom, then place the cake right side up again. Let cool for about 2 hours before slicing and serving. Store, well covered, at room temperature for 3-4 days.
Source: Adapted from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2015
*I like to weigh my ingredients when the weight is provided. I find it yields better results, but you don't have to weigh them.