This exquisitely delicate cake is one of the stars of the Viennese baking repertoire. Viennese bakers love to use ground nuts to enrich cake batters, and this one is doubly rich from the presence of almond paste along with ground nuts. A note about almond paste: For best flavor, always purchase almond paste that comes in a can as opposed to a cellophane wrapper. Canned almond paste always has a fresher, more vivid flavor and moister texture.
One 10-inch cake, about 12 generous servings
2 ounces almond paste
5 large egg yolks
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 small lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) ground blanched almonds
4 large egg whites
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup strained apricot preserves
1 cup (about 4 ounces) toasted sliced almonds
Confectioners’ sugar for finishing
One 10-inch round cake pan, 2 inches deep, buttered and the bottom lined with a disk of buttered parchment or wax paper
- Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- Place the almond paste and 2 of the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the remaining egg yolks, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Stop and scrape down the bowl and beater.
- Beat in the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar on medium speed and continue beating until light, about 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, lemon zest, and cinnamon.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the batter a good stir with a large rubber spatula. Stir in the flour and ground almonds.
- Place the egg whites and salt in a clean, dry mixer bowl and whip them on medium speed with the whisk attachment until they are white, opaque, and beginning to hold their shape. Increase the speed to high and whip in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Continue to whip until the egg whites hold a soft, glossy peak. Immediately fold the egg whites into the almond batter with a large rubber spatula.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake layer for about 45 minutes, or until it is well risen and deep golden and firm in the center. Cool the cake on a rack for 5 minutes, then invert it to a rack to cool completely. For advance preparation wrap and refrigerate the cake layer for several days or freeze for up to a month. Defrost before continuing with the recipe.
- To prepare the syrup, place the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Cool and stir in the rum.
- To finish the cake, whip the cream with the sugar until it holds a firm, smooth peak.
- Use a long serrated knife to cut the cake layer into three horizontal layers. Place one on a cardboard and moisten with 1/3 of the syrup, using a brush. Spread the layer with half the preserves. Then spread the layer with a 1/4-inch layer of the whipped cream.
- Place the second cake layer on and moisten with another 1/3 of the syrup. Spread with the remaining apricot preserves and another 1/4-inch layer of whipped cream, as in the previous layer.
- Place the last cake layer on top and moisten with the remaining syrup. Spread the entire outside of the cake with the remaining whipped cream, then press the toasted sliced almonds against the surface of the whipped cream. Dust with confectioners’ sugar immediately before serving.
Serving: Cut the cake into wedges. This is a perfect dessert cake because it is so light and delicate.
Storage: Keep the cake and any leftovers loosely covered and refrigerated.