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Everyday Italian: Almond Cake

A somewhat dense, coarse-textured, intensely almond-flavored cake. It's tasty just as it is, and would also pair well with fresh berries.

You'll need a stand mixer for this recipe, as there's quite a bit of creaming and mixing. De Laurentiis notes that it's very important to cream the almond paste and butter together until they are completely smooth, otherwise the texture will suffer. To measure the almond paste, cut slices off (almond paste comes in a log) and press them into the measuring cup so that there are no air pockets. Fill the measuring cup so that the almond paste is even with the top edge, using a knife to trim off the excess, if necessary.

I've added the instruction to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl a couple of times, since De Laurentiis neglects this step even though it's clearly necessary. You want to make sure that all of the ingredients are completely integrated into the cake batter, otherwise you'll have weird pockets in the finished cake.

The cake would look particularly pretty topped with fresh raspberries that have been tossed in a bit of sugar and Amaretto. By itself, it's a nice companion to a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of Sauternes.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: about 30 to 35 minutes
Yield: One 8-inch cake, about 8 to 10 servings

1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup almond paste, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, plus more for dusting
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, and baking powder. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and almond paste on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the vanilla extract. Gradually add 1 1/4 cups of confectioner's sugar, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Increase the speed to high and beat in the egg yolks and whole eggs, adding them one at a time. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl again. Reduce the speed to medium and add the sour cream and dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake until the cake is golden and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool. Invert the cake onto a plate or cake dish and dust with confectioner's sugar. Cut into wedges, and serve with berries, if desired.

The cake can be made 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.



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