Easy Almond Cake
This cake isn’t baked in a loaf pan but in a ring mold, preferably a patterned one; and it’s a plain cake only in the sense that it isn’t filled or iced (though feel free). It’s densely almondy and eggily intense. And you know how you make it? You buy a block of ready-made marzipan and put it in the processor along with eggs, flour, sugar, butter and a sprinkle of extracts and blitz. You could easily use a plain cake pan for this cake but I always use my spring-form tube pan (not hard to find) because the particular scent and delicacy of this cake make it perfect as a dinner-party dessert with a few raspberries in the middle, a few more scattered around the edge, and a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar. When we cooked it, we couldn’t find the right pan (losing essential items is something of a specialty of mine), plus some of it stuck to the pan we did use. I could have made it again, but I didn’t want to, because these things happen to all of us and I wanted to show it wasn’t the end of the world. True, you don’t see the molding as well as you might, if at all, but a quick bit of patching and some judicial sifting with sugar and it looked fine. Life isn’t lived in a lab. One gentle reminder here: you just will not get the marzipan to ooze into the cake batter if it starts off ice cold. In dire straits, I have cubed it and given it a quick whirl in the microwave. And if you wanted to replace the vanilla extract with the zest of an orange, I wouldn’t mind in the slightest.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together, Formal Dinner Party
Mealdinner, snack, tea
Taste and Texturebuttery, nutty, sweet
Type of Dishcake, dessert
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons softened marzipan
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup self-rising cake flour
- 10-inch springform tube pan or patterned ring mold, buttered and floured
Preheat oven to 350°F. Chop the butter and marzipan to make them easier to break down, and put them in the bowl of the food processor, fitted with the metal blade, with the sugar. Process until combined and pretty well smooth. Add almond and vanilla extracts, process again, then break the eggs one at a time through the funnel, processing again each time. Mix the flour and tip down the funnel, processing yet again, and then pour the mixture into the prepared pan, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 50 minutes, but check from 40. Then, when the cake looks golden and cooked and a cake tester or fine skewer (or a piece of spaghetti) comes out cleanish, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan before turning out. (This is when you will be feeling grateful if it’s the springform you’re using.)
The fact that you could easily get 12 slices out of this cake is another reason why it comes in useful when you’ve got people coming for dinner. That it keeps for a good week is another point in its favor; you don’t have to be fiddling around with all the courses just before liftoff. And if you don’t want to eat raspberries with it, like the rosemary cake it’s very good with apples. With this cake, I make a glorious pink apple purée. Either go for apples stewed in blood-orange juice (wonderful around February when the oranges are in), which gives a tenderly coral tint, adding a cinnamon stick or ½-1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, or use red-skinned eating apples and don’t peel before cooking them. In fact, there’s no need to core them either, just chop the apples roughly and put them in a pan with some butter, lemon juice, cinnamon or cloves and, if there’s some around, a slug of Calvados. Strain the apples when they’re cooked to an utterly yielding pulp, or push them through a food mill. If you want to smarten up the cake-plus-purée deal, then provide a bowl of crème fraîche (with or without Calvados and a little confectioners’ sugar stirred in) with some toasted slivered almonds on top.
I am not someone who enjoys peeling and pithing oranges at great length, but sliced blood or ordinary oranges, with a syrup made by reducing equal volumes of juice and sugar to an almost-caramel, would partner an orange-zested version of this almond ring (the zest in place of vanilla) exquisitely.
2001 Nigella Lawson