11.15.2014

Can You Stand One More?

One more almond cake recipe, that is.

You may know that almond cake is my favorite cake. And you may know that we had one for our wedding cake. You may also know that I tried and tried to perfect the recipe... and was eventually happy with the results.

Then along came my friend Heather with a request for me to make her favorite almond cake, one that she gets in Pasadena from The Kitchen.

TheKitchen for Exploring Foods is a wonderful shop in Old Pasadena where one can purchase an entire meal - or simply a sinful morsel - to take away. Or one can call them to cater a special event.

I have been fortunate to have tasted many a dish from this wonderful "foodtique," the brainchild of Peggy Dark, whom I was honored to meet on this visit.

During Marks and my last visit, Heather and I popped in to visit Peggy, and to pick up some goodies to sustain us: a late lunch for Heather (some beautifully poached salmon and a Mediterranean salad), and some cookies... and almond cake for us all.

I used the cooling rack to make a diamond-shaped pattern on the cake.
There was but one piece of almond cake left, and we playfully whined to Peggy that we were bereft at the idea of sharing among four people. "If only I had the recipe." I sighed, hopeful that it was somehow available.

She handed me a copy of Fabulous Parties, a cooking and entertaining book she co-wrote with Mark Held and Richard David. "You could buy this - the recipe is inside." My prayers were answered.

We chatted while Peggy, Heather and I oohed-and-ahed over the goodies that beckoned all around us. Peggy asked, "Have you tried my butterscotch pudding?" We both shook our heads, then asked the young man at the counter to add a few to our growing tally.

 Peggy waved her hand and said insistently, "No, no, no. These are my last three - just take them!" It really helps to be there with a faithful customer like Heather!

Heather bought me a copy of the book, which Peggy graciously autographed for me. While Heather is one of the most generous people I know, I know she had an ulterior motive.

I now had the recipe for her favorite almond cake. I could make it for her anytime.

~ David

Almond Cake
This recipe is based on the one by Peggy Dark. I made a few changes, not because hers wasn't already perfect, but because I use what is available (almond paste comes in a 7-ounce package) and I made a couple mistakes that worked well.

7 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pint fresh raspberries
confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly butter a 9-inch cake pan, and line the bottom with a round of parchment. Butter the parchment and then lightly flour the sides of the pan and buttered parchment. Set aside.

Grate the almond paste into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and sugar and beat until well blended.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Add lemon zest and Grand Marnier, and mix to blend.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder, and add it to the almond mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.


Let cool for 10 minutes on a rack before removing the cake from the pan. Invert cake onto a cookie sheet, remove parchment, then invert again onto a cooling rack. When completely cool, top with berries and a dusting of confectioners sugar.

42 comments:

  1. David, there is no such thing as having too many of these kinds of recipes - almond cake, Dutch boterkoek, vanilla cakes, all fabulous and even more delicious made with seasonal berries and/fruits.
    Euch ein schönes Wochenende und ganz liebe Grüsse,
    Andrea - your package is "packed" and leaving on Monday before all that Christmas rush, hopefully it will arrive soon

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    1. Haha, Andrea! I knew I wouldn't get an argument from you! This is a very special cake - I hope you try it on your family! Thanks in advance for the package - I have been putting together one for you, too, of silly things from the region (most of them food related). Liebe Grüße aus Immer sonnigen Tucson!

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  2. David, a truly lovely offering! Wondering if almond paste is available in Oz.

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    1. Oh, Liz - I do hope it is! Here in the states we get Odense Almond Paste. Let me know what you find it... If not, maybe I could send some?

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  3. Love it! Going to make this today! Beautiful ! I agree, there is no such thing as to many almonds cakes ! Going to add a little amaretto in mine and of course a little for the cook ;)

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    1. Thanks, Barbara! It works beautifully with amaretto, too! And there should always be some for the cook!! :)

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  4. Oh, I agree there can never be enough reasons to use almond paste (my sister-in-law would agree, too!). This looks amazing and given the small quantity of flour I am going to try making it gluten-free using Cup4Cup flour - I will share my results. As an aside, I like to freeze the almond paste for a bit as I find it easier to grate or cut. Thanks, David!

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    1. Nicole - I bet this would work beautifully with Cup4Cup! Thanks for the tip on freezing the almond paste, too! If you want an amazing GF cake with almonds and citrus, you need to try the citrus-almond cake on my blog. I think it is originally from Nigella but I made a few changes including the size of the pan.

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  5. Like Nicole, I'm also going to try Cup4Cup since the flour ratio is small enough. And thanks for the freezer suggestion as well. I haven't worked with almond paste before, but have a deep love of all things almond. We discovered our favorite little ice cream shop here has a toasted almond that is to die for. Cheers from the already-frozen north!

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    1. Gaelen - you will love almond paste. If yours is really fresh and malleable, you don't even need to grate it! If you make your own ice cream, adding bits of grated almond paste at the end is wonderful! Sorry it is already so cold up there! Come visit here - it's lovely! Especially this morning out in the garden!

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  6. Beautiful. And what a great story! I didn't know there was a difference between marzipan and almond paste, so thanks for that info!!

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    1. Thanks, Mimi! Yes, there is a lot more sugar in marzipan! But I love them both!

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  7. Hi David, love this cake, looks delicious! can you tell me where you found almond paste? maybe I am not looking in the right area at the market, thanks!

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    1. Hi Cheri, thanks for your note! Safeway, Albertsons, AJs and Bashas all carry it. Whole Foods, too! It is easy to overlook. Before you shop, go online and Google images for Odense Almond Paste. That way you will see the box you are seeking! Then, in all the stores I mentioned, it is in the baking section and, with the exception of our Whole Foods, it is always on the very top shelf. Hte boxes are about 8-inches long and they are most often stored on end, so you are lookin for a tall skinny box. Good luck - let me know if you find it! (And make sure you don't use the marzipan!)

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    2. found the almond paste at Safeway, exactly like you said I would, thanks for all your help!!

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    3. Oh, good, Cheri! Glad it was there. Sometimes I can't see it when I am looking straight at it - those little boxes are elusive!

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  8. I see Peggy's a great sales lady :)
    I would sure like to visit her little shop, she's prolly talk me into buying everything! I too love almond cake, and this one looks amazing David! Good thing I know where to get some almond paste. I need get back to baking, I've been slacking off in the deserts area become every week I make 6 dozen cookies for the showroom. You get kinda jaded just making cookies. My mind is void of baking inspiration lately, I'm surprised I got out pumpkin doughnuts last week! Have a great week David. xx

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    1. Peggy is good at everything! :) You would love her place, Nazneen - and it is really tiny! I hope you can get past cookies soon!

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  9. And please excuse all my typos! It's the touch keyboard on the iPad and not my fried brain.

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    1. Doing my blog reading on my iPad can drive me crazy - I know exactly where you are coming from!

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  10. Hi David,we can always enjoy any recipe from your blog...cause your recipes are great and you make the post so beautiful to read...so this almond cake sits on our mind until we give it a try soon...can imagine how heavenly marzipan will taste in it...a gorgeous and our going to be favorite cake recipe,thanks :-)

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    1. Thanks, Rakesh and Swikruti - that is so sweet! Let me know if you make it, and what you think!

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  11. For a moment I thought the recipe would contain almond meal. Now I'm wondering where I can find almond paste. I'm sure it wouldn't be that difficult to locate here in Sydney.

    Just reading the ingredients and they proportions, I can already taste the end result. I think I need to track down some almond paste!

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    1. John, it never occurred to me that almond paste would be hard to find in Australia. There is a place in Sydney called Australia on a Plate that seems to carry Odense Almond Paste. It will be worth finding some!

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  12. There are never too many recipes for almond cake! I absolutely love it, I make one with almond meal and cointreau which rings with similar flavours to your cake here. As for almond paste? I'm guessing that I'll have similar problems to John (I know where to get marzipan but not almond paste) but I'll check out the store you listed above. Gorgeous post as always David! x

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    1. I hope the store has the almond paste, Laura! I also love cakes with almond meal, but they have a very different texture. Thanks for your compliments!

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  13. Damn deliicous almond cake!!!
    perfectly fancy photographed too....

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  14. If they are as good as this one I could stand many more almond cake recipes :)
    A wonderful treat, David, it looks very tempting.
    And topped with raspberries...say no more.

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    1. Daniela - almond and raspberries is one of my favorite combinations, too. Linzertorte, this cake, anything!

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  15. Hmm. I know I left a message here. I was going to follow up about the Pasadena restaurant. I can't believe I hadn't been there before. GREG

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    1. Thanks, Greg. Blogger has a magical way of making peoples' comments disappear! Anyway, The Kitchen is less a restaurant and more a great place for take out. They call it "Gourmet to Go." Just visited their website (now linked in the post) and see they have shops in OC, Palm Springs and Pasadena.

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  16. David, this cake is so up my alley. It has all my favourite things. I spike my almond cake, too, but w Amaretto. Going to try Gran Marnier.
    Wishing you a great w/end. xoxo

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    1. I have to try this with Amaretto! I wish you, Shawn and Daisy a great Thanksgiving, Colette!

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  17. Towny bought the almond paste so we are ready to roll!! Do you think chestnut paste and a different liquor would work?

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    1. Hmmm. I think chestnut paste (crème de marron?) might be too oily and thin. But why not try? I was thinking pistachio paste and a different liqueur... Why not? Great ideas, Susan!

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  18. Yes please! I could stand 10 more! Bring them on.

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  19. Oh dear, you won't like me after this comment, but I don't like almond flavor...as in the marzipan type almond flavor! However, I'm curious about the almond paste, as you say, not marzipan...I thought they were the same thing? No? I did try marzipan in Germany last year that was actually very different than what I'm used to, it was much more mild.

    Anyway, the cake looks gorgeous and it's funny because I'm practically next door to Pasadena but think I've only gone to that restaurant once! Will have to go back, now! CC

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    1. Hi Christina - I promise I will still like you if you will still like me for not being able to eat garlic :)

      Marzipan has a much higher sugar content than almond paste. But they both have the almond-y flavor you talk about. Try to find almond paste that is made just with almonds and no extracts. Maybe that will make a difference? It is a really sweet little place - I now go there every time I am in Pasadena!

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  20. No such thing as too much cake... especially YOUR almond cake! :) There is something magical about the flavor of marzipan and almond paste. For those who have trouble finding the almond paste - it's not all that difficult to make with the help of a food processor!

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    1. I have made homemade almonds paste before but it never quite seems the same. What is your recipe, Ahu? I would love to try it.

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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