As a vegetarian, this is one of my favorite cakes. Nuts, sugar and eggs. No flour, no butter. Light and tasty and packed with protein. I like easy cakes, by the way. I like a cake that you can eat with one hand, dip in coffee, or pack in a child’s lunch box. I admire those skilled artists who create magical complicated dessert beauties, but I am not one of them.
This is a Tarta de Santiago and you might see this cake with a cross stenciled into the powdered sugar for St James. I don’t know who St James is or how much he liked almond cake, but this one was made for him–the cake of St James.
There’s a little cheat I love to do–skip the lemon or orange zest and add in some Gran Marnier or Triple Sec.
Makes one large almond cake
1 3/4 cups ground blanched almonds (I used almonds with skins)
6 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon (or 2 tbs of orange liqueur, such as Gran Marnier)
4 drops almond extract
Powdered sugar for dusting
1) Blend the 6 eggs yolks with the 1 1/4 cup superfine sugar till creamy
2) Add the zest of lemon and orange, or the Gran Marnier if you don’t have any lemons and oranges
3) Add the almond extract, the ground almonds and mix. Blanched almonds are best but if you don’t mind the peppery look of the skins, then ground the almonds with the skins on.
4) Beat the 6 egg whites till stiff peaks form. Then fold into the almond batter.
5) Preheat the oven to 350F and butter and flour (or use baking parchment) a deep cake pan. A springform pan with removable bottom is best as the cake is moist and a little sticky on the bottom.
6) Bake the cake for about 40 minutes until golden and cooked through. It will puff up during baking. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.