We use the food processor to grind the almonds and make the batter for our classic almond cake.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Almond cake is a popular dessert in countries like Spain and Italy, and it’s easy to understand why: This single-layer cake is so rich in flavor that it requires no frosting, and it’s remarkably simple to make. We wanted our recipe to produce an almond cake with plenty of nutty flavor and a light, open crumb. We found that using finely ground almonds and a bit of almond extract gave us a cake with a cleaner and more pronounced almond flavor than that of a cake made with store-bought almond paste. To avoid the overly dense gluten structure that can result from using too much all-purpose flour, we relied on the protein structure of eggs to create a tender, delicate crumb. We used a food processor to assemble our batter in stages. We started by grinding toasted blanched almonds along with our dry ingredients and set the mixture aside. Then, in the same processor bowl, we processed our eggs and sugar for just 30 seconds to create a light, fluffy mixture. (When we processed the egg mixture for too long, we incorporated too much air, which resulted in a domed cake.) Finally, we streamed in our olive oil and pulsed in the almond mixture before transferring the batter to a cake pan. For added elegance and a decorative finish we sprinkled the cake with sliced almonds and a mixture of lemon zest and sugar before baking. If you can’t find blanched sliced almonds, grind slivered almonds for the batter and use unblanched sliced almonds for the topping.
1½ cups plus ⅓ cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted
¾ cup (3¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
1¼ cups (8¾ ounces) plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
¾ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease 9-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper. Pulse 1½ cups almonds, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in food processor until almonds are finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses; transfer to bowl.
2. Process eggs, 1¼ cups sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, and almond extract in now-empty processor until pale yellow and frothy, about 30 seconds. With processor running, slowly add oil in steady stream until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Add almond mixture and pulse to combine, 4 to 5 pulses.
3. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth into even layer. Using your fingers, combine remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and remaining ½ teaspoon lemon zest in small bowl until fragrant, 5 to 10 seconds. Sprinkle top of cake evenly with remaining ⅓ cup almonds followed by sugar-zest mixture.
4. Bake until center of cake is set and bounces back when gently pressed and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes, rotating pan after 40 minutes.
5. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan. Remove cake from pan, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 2 hours. Serve.