Almond Cake


One of life’s better days.

Started with having both girls home for dinner. Add in daylight savings time and the first bike ride of the season in Central Park and life is pretty damned good.  Then give me a sunny afternoon in the kitchen baking and I’m over the top.

This cake will put you over the top, too. From my fave old magazine “Pleasures of Cooking”, it’s dense and sweet but not too sweet due to a touch of lemon tartness and has a wonderfully chewy outer crust.

I made the cake substituting olive for vegetable oil, resulting in a slightly richer and denser cake than the original recipe. Here’s the original cake made with veggie oil by my mother in law Irene-


and mine made with olive oil. Mine is a little lower because I took some batter off to make cupcakes, which I”ll show you in another post, so concentrate on the crumb texture. See how it’s denser? It actually fell a tad when I took it out of the oven, but was well cooked from what I could tell. It could be my cake pans or the olive oil that made the difference there, I’m not sure.


Both were delicious. When we taste-tested frozen and thawed versions of both cakes with my husband’s family today, they were evenly split on which they preferred. So I’ll leave it to you to decide which you’ll make. I”m sticking with the olive oil because it seems healthier and more authentic and I loved how it tasted.


(See recipe after the jump)


This recipe is modified from Pleasures of Cooking, a wonderful Cuisinart magazine that came and went, but will never be forgotten. The original recipe calls for vegetable oil, but I used olive oil. The end result is a bit more moist and dense than the cake made with vegetable oil, but healthier.

I used a regular cake pan, but if you use a springform pan, you eliminate the need to invert the cake, a process which results in the loss of a few topping almonds.

This is a perfect cake to make ahead and freeze. It thaws well and tastes as good if not better than on the day it was made.

Cake ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups blanched sliced almonds, toasted
  • 3/4 cups (3 3/4 oz) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4  cup (8 3/4 oz) sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon  zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Topping ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cups blanched, sliced almonds (do not toast)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease a 9 inch cake pan and line with parchment paper. Pulse 1 1/2 cups toasted almonds, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in food processor until almonds are finely ground (10 pulses or so). Transfer almond mixture to a bowl.

Process eggs, 1 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp lemon zest, almond extract and vanilla extract in the now empty processor until very pale yellow, about 2 minutes. With processor running, add butter and oil in a stream through the feed tube, processing till incorporated. Add almond mixture and pulse to combine, about 4-5 pulses. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Using your fingers, combine remaining 2 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp lemon zest in a small bowl till fragrant, 5 to 10 seconds. Sprinkle top of cake evenly with remaining 1/3 cups sliced almonds followed by sugar-zest mixture.

Bake until center of the cake is set and bounces back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes, rotating pan after 40 minutes. Cool cake on wire rack for 15 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan. Over a clean counter, invert cake quickly onto one hand or a greased wire rack (you’ll lose a few almonds, just pick them up and put back on the cake), quickly remove the parchment, then re-invert cake back onto original wire rack. Let cake cool 2 hours. Cur into wedges and serve.

If freezing, flash freeze parchment lined cake on sheet pan in the freezer, then stored in a covered container. Thaw at room temp. Lift out of container gently, pull of parchment and place onto plate and serve. (Don’t worry, this is not a fragile cake and can take the man-handling).


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