TORTA DI MANDORLE: LIGURIAN ALMOND CAKE

Slightly reminiscent of a French gâteau breton, this dense cake is perfect with a glass of sweet wine or a cup of tea. As a dessert, it would need to be dressed up with some fruit or berries.

Makes one 9-inch tube or Bundt cake, about 16 slices


2 1/2 cups blanched almonds, very lightly toasted

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

5 large eggs, at room temperature

One 9-inch (10-cup) tube or Bundt pan, buttered, coated with fine dry bread crumbs, and sprayed with vegetable cooking spray

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 325˚F.
  2. Combine the almonds and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse repeatedly until the mixture is a fine powder. Invert the work bowl to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon to the bowl and mix on lowest speed for 1 minute.
  4. Add the butter and mix until absorbed.
  5. Add the lemon zest and 2 eggs and mix until absorbed. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Add another 2 eggs and repeat, beating for 1 minute after they are incorporated. Add the last egg and repeat.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake until it is well risen and deep golden and the point of a thin knife inserted between the side of the pan and the central tube emerges clean, 45 to 50 minutes.
  7. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then unbuckle the side of the pan and slide the cake from the pan base to a rack to cool.

Serving: This is best as a tea cake. Serve thin slices; a spoonful of lemon curd to accompany it wouldn’t be bad, either.

Storage: Keep the baked cake under a cake dome or wrapped in plastic at room temperature. Double wrap and freeze for longer storage. Defrost and bring back to room temperature before serving.