Almond Sponge Cake
I had eaten this cake-literally “cake of heaven” many times in the Casa Chalam Balam in Mérida and loved it. In Yucatán it is served at weddings and first communion receptions. I was told that the recipe was kept a secret by the old ladies who made it for the hotel. After many experiments I think this recipe comes as close as possible to the version I like so much. The soaking of the almonds keeps the cake rich and moist; it is sometimes also flavored with anise.
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Dietary Considerationlactose-free, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian
Taste and Texturelight, nutty, sweet
Type of Dishcake, dessert, sponge cake
- 8 ounces (225 g) whole almonds, unskinned (about 12/3 cups/415 ml)
- 5 large eggs, separated
- A good pinch of salt
- 8 ounces (225 g) granulated sugar (1 heaped cup/265 ml)
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- A drop of almond extract
Line the bottom of a 9 inch (23 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and sides of the pan well, and dust with flour.
Pour hot water over the almonds so that they are well covered and leave them to soak for about 4 hours. (Remove the skins-they should slip right off.)
Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C) and place a rack on the middle level.
Chop the nuts roughly and grind them a little at a time in a coffee/spice grinder. They should be neither too coarse nor too fine. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites until they are fluffy. Add the salt and continue beating until they are firm. Add the yolks one by one and continue beating until they are all incorporated.
Mix the dry ingredients with the almonds and, beating at a low speed, gradually add them to the eggs. Add the brandy and almond extract and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1¾ hours. Remove the cake from the pan or cool on a rack.
2000 Diana Kennedy