The Almond Cake That Will Save Your Soul

November 15, 2004 | By | COMMENTS

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The ingredients are simple: butter, sour cream, baking soda, flour, sea salt, sugar, almond paste, 4 egg yolks, almond extract and confectioner’s sugar for dusting. But assembled as they are and baked as they were, this cake is sheer perfection. On pg. 70 of Hesser’s book (referenced also in the previous post), this cake was first prepared by Amanda’s now mother-in-law. I’d like to break into that family somehow just so I’d have an excuse to genuflect at mom-in-law’s feet on a regular basis to thank her for this brilliant creation. “Thank you thank you thank you,” I’d say.

Am I overdoing it? Maybe. Just maybe. But look at this cake again and call me a liar:

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Look at this slice:

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Do you have any idea how good this tastes? Do you? DO YOU PUNK?

Ok, I’ll break my own rule established in the post below and share the recipe. I think recipes are in the public domain, anyway–it’s somewhere in the Federal Code 3.825 regarding Delicious Almond Cake Recipes and the Rule Against Perpetuities. I do have a law degree, you know.

The ingredients are mentioned above but not the amounts. So here we go again:

2 sticks butter, softened, more for buttering pan

1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (measured after sifting)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

7-oz tube almond paste, cut into small pieces

(Lisa cut the almond paste using a juvenile method that I found offensive:

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“Those aren’t small pieces,” I pleaded.

“Shut up, crackwhore,” she retorted.)

4 egg yolks, at room temperature

(Ok, can I just mention that I’m usually great at separating egg yolks, and how these eggs I bought were deformed? I’d pour the egg into my hand, as I usuall do, spreading my fingers for the white to fall through–except the yellow bled into the white and I had to dump it all. Then I did the shell method–break the shell in half and pour back and forth until it’s all separated; but again the yolk bled. It took a big mess to finally get the four I needed. Don’t ask why I was using coffee mugs:

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Ok, I used the coffee mugs because you’re supposed to add the yolks one at a time so I put two yolks per mug then poured half the mug for each addition. Genius? I dare say it is!)

1 tsp almond extract

Confectioners’ sugar, for sifting over cake

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter sides and bottoms of one 9-inch springform pan; line sides and bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the paper. (You may forego the parchment paper as long as you are generous with the butter on the pan itself.) Mix together the sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl. Sift the flour and salt into another bowl.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the almond paste, a little at a time, at medium speed, and beat for 8 minutes.

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Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, and mix until incorporated. It will look curdled; don’t worry. Blend in the almond extract and sour cream mixture. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, just until blended.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

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Bake about 1 hour. It is done when you press the top and it returns to its shape, and also shrinks from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool in the pan. When ready to serve, sift confectioners’ sugar on top and slice like a pie.

Behold the celestial magesty of this cake:

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Simple.

Elegant.

Robust.

Erotic.

Dyslexic.

Make it today and thank yourself tomorrow.

Categories: Adam's Personal Favorites, Cakes, Desserts, Recipes

  • http://www.joannou.net brian w

    I’m pretty sure weak-walled yolks mean the eggs were getting old. Watch those expiration dates.

  • savina

    could you please, please translate 1 stick butter into a more internationally recognizable measure? Over here our sticks come in different sizes and I’m sure none of them is the exact equivalent of yours. By the way, if the egg yolk bleeds, good news, it means the egg is fresh!

  • katy

    Okay, I’m not sure of the best measure for you, Savina. But I hope one of these works:

    One stick of American butter is 1/2 cup.

    One stick of American butter is .25 pounds.

    One stick of American butter is 113 grams.

  • http://www.joannou.net brian w

    Wait, bleeding yolk means fresh egg? I was always taught that bleeding yolk means old egg! Is this one of those things that will lead to a schism in the kingdom, like the big-endians and little-endians from Gulliver’s Travels? Crap!

  • Mel

    *faints*

  • abc

    i don’t know if you were trying to get every little hint of white out but if you get a little white in with the yolk, the cake will not be ruined. better not to waste eggs. and for craps sake, all that put the eggs in one at a time, you’re using a high speed mixer all will be well if you don’t get exactly one fourth of the total yolk in at a time and would be even if you were using a spoon. julian barnes, move over.

  • http://www.foxfires.com Aimee

    I found this recipe by accident a couple of days ago… and am making this cake today. I just placed it reverently in the oven….and tasted the batter from the remains in the bowl.

    Oh. My. Gorgonzola. I had a moment. Symphonies played. Light shafts flooded the sky. You weren’t kidding about this cake. If the end result is as choice (thank you Ferris Buehler) as the beginning, I may just faint.

  • http://foodgrrl.blogspot.com/ Michelle

    Hey!

    I’m making this for my little sister’s birthday tonight. Fingers crossed, she’s a picky cake girl (who isn’t??).

    Michelle

  • Mary

    Ok, that’s it. I’m making this for Passover.

    No if’s, and’s or but’s…

    Somehow, I don’t think I’ll really need to test it out, then rush back and give you a report.

    It looks unbelievably de-lish and degree of difficulty on the scale of “easy enough.”

    Thanks for your site. FUN ALLL THE WAY!!!!

    Mary

    Houston, Texas

  • Carmen

    I made this almond cake this past weekend and it was one of the best things I’d ever eaten!

  • http://Rae@interactionmatters.com Gail Rae

    I live in Santa Fe, elevation 7200 feet. I have tried to make Almond Cake before but not from this recipe and at this elevation it crashed in the center. Back in DC it was wonderful. Any suggestions before I go and waste that delicious almond paste?

    Gail

  • Frank

    I lived in Albuquerque, then Taos, then Denver for a total of 18 years (now in San Diego). Making cakes in higher elevation, this worked for me. Use less of the leavening (baking powder). I think I used about 60% of what was called for. Also, use more liquid. Instead of 1 cup of liquid, I’d use 1 1/4 cups. I think the only liquid here is sour cream—I would have thinned the sour cream with about a 1/4 cup of milk. This always worked well for me in making scratch cakes in high altitude. Might need a little more in Santa Fe (Albuquerque and Denver aren’t quite as high). Good luck.

  • Frank

    I lived in Albuquerque, then Taos, then Denver for a total of 18 years (now in San Diego). Making cakes in higher elevation, this worked for me. Use less of the leavening (baking powder). I think I used about 60% of what was called for. Also, use more liquid. Instead of 1 cup of liquid, I’d use 1 1/4 cups. I think the only liquid here is sour cream—I would have thinned the sour cream with about a 1/4 cup of milk. This always worked well for me in making scratch cakes in high altitude. Might need a little more in Santa Fe (Albuquerque and Denver aren’t quite as high). Good luck.

  • Dominique Skandalakis

    Hi david,

    Thanks for your great recipes and advice on cooking.. I make the flourless chocolate cake all the time and its a real success.. I live on crete, greece and I wont be able to find almond paste. Do you know how i could make it.. ? I have no problem getting the almonds.. and this cake probably wouldn’t be nearly as good without the almond paste..

    Thanks for any advice you might have.

    Kind regards,

    Dominique

  • Katelyn

    I’ve made this twice now, and will make it again as one of the cakes for my birthday. SO SO GOOD. OH GOD. My tips: be careful to mix the baking soda with the sour cream well. Plan something to do during the hour it’s baking so you don’t go crazy over the smell. Buy a baseball bat to fend off scavenging passersby. It’s possible to make this in a rectangular pan, the crust that forms on the cake will be just as good. Yummm

  • Trish

    I just made this cake because I want to have an almond cake for our wedding (making our own). I love almond paste and this was the most fantastic cake I’ve ever eaten! I didn’t add the extract, the paste was enough, but I think next time I will add it to the cream cheese frosting I used. My fiance said this is definitely the cake for our wedding day.

    Thank you for posting the recipe! Every other site I looked at considered adding almond extract to boxed white cake as being equivalent, but there’s no way they compare at all.

  • Bob Dorfman

    Twice we have made this cake and both times it “sunk” in the middle. What can we do to prevent this from happening?

  • Bob Dorfman

    Twice we have made this cake and both times it “sunk” in the middle. What can we do to prevent this from happening?

  • Bob Dorfman

    Twice we have made this cake and both times it “sunk” in the middle. What can we do to prevent this from happening?

  • http://www.myspace.com/saraevasmom Sara Rose

    Bob-

    In “Cooking for Mr Latte” Amanda mentions that the cake will always fall in the center and not to worry about it. BUT, I found that making it in a bundt pan keeps it from falling in the center and also gives it a nice crust. Also check your elevation, you may have to adjust your measurements of baking soda (less- I’d say 60% of the original measure) and sour cream (more- try increasing by 1/4 cup)- that may help it in a regular cake pan. But, I swear by a bundt pan- made it that way three times and it hasn’t fallen yet!

  • http://www.myspace.com/saraevasmom Sara Rose

    Bob-

    In “Cooking for Mr Latte” Amanda mentions that the cake will always fall in the center and not to worry about it. BUT, I found that making it in a bundt pan keeps it from falling in the center and also gives it a nice crust. Also check your elevation, you may have to adjust your measurements of baking soda (less- I’d say 60% of the original measure) and sour cream (more- try increasing by 1/4 cup)- that may help it in a regular cake pan. But, I swear by a bundt pan- made it that way three times and it hasn’t fallen yet!

  • jill

    just made this tonight. outstanding.

  • http://sharon-thegoodlife.blogspot.com/ Sharon

    Hi Adam!

    I made your soul-saving almond cake.

    My report follows:

    http://sharon-thegoodlife.blogspot.com/2009/02/adam-roberts-i-read-your-blog.html

  • http://canItasteitnow.blogspot.com Janice

    Try topping this with raspberry preserves sometime (with whole almonds around the perimeter for decor.) Outta this world!

  • CC

    Will the exact same measurements work with a 9×13 pan or should I double the recipe?

  • http://www.amateurgourmet.com/ Adam Roberts

    I don’t recommend making this cake in such a wide pan even if you double the recipe. It’s not really that kind of cake.

  • Fallout Girl

    Looks like a great recipe. Can’t wait to make it plan to shop the ingredients tomorrow and surprise the boyfriend. Can I use Almond Flour instead of regular flour and omit the almond paste and almond extract ?
    Thanks for any information !

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    Definitely not! Won’t come out the same way at all. Good luck.

  • Fallout Girl

    Thanks for the quick reply. How about almond butter in place of the extract and paste?

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    Nope that would yield a totally different result.

  • VyonneS

    Hey I have a dead easy absolutely gorgeous recipy for home made almond paste, it take about five minutes to make (if you have the ingredients) and keeps to a week in the fridge and can be frozen too (however the taste suffers a wee bit when frozen) if you want it let me know!!

  • http://www.y8friv.asia/ Friv 4

    i’m afraid when using the eggs on the cake because it may be not good when we restore in the long time

  • Fallout Girl

    VyonneS
    Would love your recipe for home made almond paste ! Always believe the more homemade ingredients the better the final product.
    Thanks : s

  • sadie

    Thanks for the recipe, it looks delicious! Do you think this would work in individual size cakes? I was thinking of ramekins or even (partially filled) cupcake tins… Thanks for the help and your great blog!

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    Hi Sadie, I think “no” because the center of the cake is soft and the outside firm; in ramekins, it might all just be firm? I’d say: just make the original recipe. Good luck!

  • sadie

    Too bad! Thanks for the quick response though!

  • Andi Montgomery

    Adam – I just wanted to let you know that this cake has become one of my staples. So much so that I made 10 of them to serve at my wedding this past summer. I baked them over a month, and froze them wrapped in saran wrap and bagged. They didn’t suffer from the freeze at all. They were a big hit! So… thanks!

  • Andi Montgomery

    Adam – I wanted to let you know that this cake has become a staple in our household. So much so, in fact, that I made 10 of them this summer to serve at my wedding. I baked them over a month and froze them wrapped in saran wrap and bagged. They didn’t suffer at all from freezing/defrosting. They were a huge hit, and I have you to thank! Thanks!

  • Rochellie

    What size cake pan?

  • Anonymous

    I’ve made this cake for my birthday for the last two years. I add an almond buttercream frosting and make it a two layer cake. It’s not the prettiest cake, with the center that sinks, BUT it is the absolute best tasting cake. My birthday is coming up next week and my mouth is already watering in anticipation. Kudos and thank you!

  • Anonymous

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  • Nina

    I made this cake yesterday for a dinner tonight and thought I had undercooked it. I knew it would fall in the centre but it fell so dramatically that I was seriously worried. But the cake was absolutely delicious and everyone loved it. Most commented that they liked the moist almost gooey centre. This will be one of my go to cakes now!
    I also used 10% Greek yogurt since I didn’t have a chance to go to the store and I think it is an excellent substitute. I might just continue to use this instead of sour cream since I often have the yogurt at home and not the sour cream.
    Thanks for posting this recipe (I also got this recipe from Molly Wizenberg’s blog Orangette where she mentioned you in this recipe as well). And I just got the book Cooking For Mr. Latte from the library and just loved it.

  • Jean

    This is the best cake I have ever eaten. I served it for Christmas dinner/desert of course/ and everyone wanted the recipe.

  • amanda

    I want to make this for my mother’s birthday tomorrow as she has requested almond cake, but she also wants a raspberry filling layer in the middle. Do you think this recipe will work if I bake it in two 9 inch cake pans?

  • Mm

    …in the oven now and anticipating a fabulous cake. I made the almond paste from a Jacques Torres recipe. I mention because I’ve made paste many times and this is the best recipe/technique I’ve found. (Google if you’re interested)

  • Mm

    …in the oven now and anticipating a fabulous cake. I made the almond paste from a Jacques Torres recipe. I mention because I’ve made paste many times and this is the best recipe/technique I’ve found. (Google if you’re interested)

  • Mm

    …in the oven now and anticipating a fabulous cake. I made the almond paste from a Jacques Torres recipe. I mention because I’ve made paste many times and this is the best recipe/technique I’ve found. (Google if you’re interested)

  • Mm

    …in the oven now and anticipating a fabulous cake. I made the almond paste from a Jacques Torres recipe. I mention because I’ve made paste many times and this is the best recipe/technique I’ve found. (Google if you’re interested)

  • Mm

    …in the oven now and anticipating a fabulous cake. I made the almond paste from a Jacques Torres recipe. I mention because I’ve made paste many times and this is the best recipe/technique I’ve found. (Google if you’re interested)

  • Pernia

    Can this recipe be made into cupcakes?

  • wendyb964

    I made this delicious cake using only the food processor (as in the Chez Panisse almond torte, a similar recipe.) Both are incredible. Baked in 2 x 6″ tube pans whose exteriors I wrapped in foil to prevent leaks.

  • Roberta Morse

    You may faint, but be informed it could be from salmonella from eating raw egg dough!