Brutally Italian Almond Cake

This image courtesy of Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin

In Italy, I'm never too impressed by desserts served at the end of a meal. Even in the fancier restaurants, the final courses always seem to be missing something. Salt? Acid? Inspiration? The reason is probably simpler: In Italy, sweets are ubiquitous.  You eat dessert all day long in Rome. Gelato for breakfast? Sure, the cafè where you get your coffee probably has twenty flavors and they might be left over from last night, but screw it, get a cup of bacio at 8 a.m. Just try to ask Italians for scrambled eggs or (gasp) a frittata for breakfast.  They will usher you right out of the country.  Here, eat this sweet pastry stuffed with apricot jam. Have a coffee, too.  Now go. Cookies, cakes, Kinder candy bars...all to be eaten throughout the day in Italia. By the time dinner's through, a chunk of cheese or a bowl of grapes is, like, just fine.

This is a simple almond cake. Something you might see for sale by the slice at a bakery in Florence, right beside those jam crostatas with warbly lattice tops and a stack of crunchy meringues the size of footballs. The sliced almonds on top of this cake become very dark in the oven. That perfume, that nearly black, toasted-almond aroma, that's Italy, too.  

Cooking Methodbaking



Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursedessert, snack

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Equipmentelectric mixer, food processor

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealbreakfast, snack, tea

Taste and Texturenutty, sweet

Type of Dishcake, dessert


  • Almonds, skin on 2/3 cup (93 grams)
  • Sugar 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup (25 grams plus 150 grams)
  • Unsalted butter 2/3 cup, or 1 stick plus 2 2/3 tablespoons (170 grams)
  • Eggs 2
  • All-purpose flour 2/3 cup (80 grams)
  • Baking powder 1 1/4 tablespoons (13 grams)
  • Salt 1 teaspoon (5 grams)
  • Sliced almonds 1/2 cup (54 grams)
  • Simple syrup 1 tablespoon (10 grams)


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch round springform pan with butter, line with parchment, and set aside. Or use an 8-inch ring mold and make a bottom with aluminum foil.

    2. In a food processor, grind the skin-on almonds with 2 tablespoons of the sugar into a coarse powder.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time making sure the first is incorporated before adding the second.

  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add them slowly to the batter and incorporate fully.

  4. 5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

    6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add the sliced almonds and simple syrup and toss. Add the nuts to the top of the cake, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and toasted.

    7. Let the cake cool in the pan before serving.

  5. To serve: By the slice, accompanied by a single shot of espresso in the afternoon.


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@native210: Thanks so much for bringing this issue to our attention. Yes, the almond meal should be added with the other dry ingredients. Best, Kara Rota Editorial Director

Did I miss something? What do we do with the almond meal? There's no mention of it after it's ground up. I assume we add it with the regular flour and other dry ingredients. Since I'm making it now, I'll just go with my theory and hope I'm right! But you might want to fix the recipe as it's written here.


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