I started off the summer testing a couple cake recipes, searching for “the one” — a simple, plain cake that tastes great all by itself, one that would also make a perfect companion to the various fruits that come and go all year long: citrus-rhubarb-berries-peaches-plums-cherries-apples-pears.
This cake was it. It’s the one to keep on your recipe list of basic essentials — just like a black t-shirt, it goes with everything.
Almonds pair well with many fruits, especially all the ones (like peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries and even apples) they’re actually related to botanically. And fun fact: Stone fruit pits are the source of “bitter almond” flavor. They contain oils that are used to produce almond extract and flavorings, each kernel harboring a small amount of prussic acid a/k/a potassium cyanide. (Don’t worry, we’re talking trace amounts that are destroyed when heated during the manufacturing process).
I dug into cake recipe research and narrowed my list to almond cake, which seems like a classic. I made a cake with olive oil and no butter that turned out drier and more chiffon-like than I wanted. Patricia Wells has an almond cake in her cookbook Vegetable Harvest that includes grated carrots but no almond paste. Diana Henry makes one that calls for marzipan (basically the same as almond paste but sweeter) and fruit baked right in.
I based the recipe here on what turned out to be my favorite, from Samin Nosrat (BTW her book Salt Fat Acid Heat is a little treasure for anyone obsessed with food and how to cook). First, I love that you basically make the whole recipe in a food processor which seems fuss-free to me because I don’t have to haul out my heavy-duty mixer. And the method of dribbling eggs into the butter while the processor runs, essentially making an emulsion, is a genius move. The cake batter turns into a lusciously smooth mixture that bakes up dense and moist.
I have a feeling this cake will be making appearances as the seasons change.
If you bake the cake but don’t plan on serving it right away, keep it well wrapped for a day or two. If you top with the yogurt glaze, keep the cake refrigerated and bring to room temperature. Add the berries just before serving.
almond cake with summer berries
This velvet-textured cake is great with a side of fresh fruit - serve it plain, with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or top with a lightly sweetened yogurt glaze as pictured.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 room temperature eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 7-ounce tube almond paste
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup mixed blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries
- 1 1/2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
- Powdered sugar to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
- Pulse the almond paste in a food processor until it's broken into even pieces. Add the sugar and process for a minute or so, until the mixture appears fine and sandy textured.
- Add the butter and process for a full 2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the workbowl if necessary.
- With the machine running, slowly dribble in the egg. You want the mixture to emulsify and become thick, blended and creamy.
- Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl. Place a strainer over the bowl and sift the flour mixture over the batter in 3 separate additions.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and the top springs back lightly.
- Cool the cake 20 minutes, then release the sides of the pan and cool completely on a rack.
- While the cake cools, mix the yogurt and sugar together until smooth (depending on how sweet you like it, start with 3/4 cup sugar and go from there). Refrigerate until it's time to serve the cake.
- To serve, spread the yogurt over the top of the cake and top with berries.
Makes one 9-inch cake