Almond based dishes are a staple of Cucina Italiana from beverages to decadent desserts. Almond paste or pasta di mandorle is the basis for popular sweets throughout the Italian peninsula. On my last visit to Italy my cousin surprised me with a supply of Italian almond paste, so fragrant that when I arrived home the sweet smell of almonds perfumed the contents of our luggage. I simply had to do something special with it. A classic Italian Almond Cake or Torta di Mandorle would be a spectacular way to pay tribute to this wonderful gift.
The Italian almond paste was supple and less sweet than the brands readily available in the United States; a natural product consisting of almonds and sugar from Calabria. Not to worry, the varieties commonly available in your local supermarket will do just fine in this recipe.
Even through the dog days of summer Italian Almond Cake is a breeze to prepare – a one bowl torta. The other ingredients are more than likely in your pantry: eggs, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, sliced almonds, and an orange (ok you may not have an orange, but this is easy to remedy).
This moist, tender cake highlights the almond paste magnificently. It is rich enough to serve on its own or with some fresh berries on the side along with a nice espresso.
Grazie da cuore bella cuginetta – I only hope to prepare this for you some day. Why not bake Almond Cake for someone you love in the coming week?
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- 8 ounces of almond paste
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature
- Grated zest of one large orange
- ⅔ cup of cake flour sifted
- 4 fresh large eggs, room temperature
- ¼ tsp. baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 6 ounces of sliced almonds
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- *Freshly sliced strawberries or other whole berries marinated in a few tablespoons of granulated sugar, optional
- Preheat the oven to 325º and arrange a shelf in the middle.
- Butter the sides and bottom of a 9” springform pan, then line the bottom with a circle of buttered parchment.
- Place the almond paste and granulated sugar in the work bowl of a standing mixer on medium-low speed and cream until the almond paste has been uniformly broken into soft granular like pieces. This could take some time so please be patient.
- Add the softened butter and grated orange zest, cream on medium-high speed until the mixture is uniform and somewhat fluffy.
- Begin to add the eggs one at a time beating for one minute after each addition, scraping down the bowl midway. Continue until you have incorporated all 4 of the eggs. The batter should be homogeneous and creamy.
- Remove the work bowl from the mixer stand and begin to add the cake flour & baking powder by hand using a sifter over the work bowl. Gently incorporate the flour using a rubber spatula with deep strokes to be certain that the flour has been added uniformly. Continue to fold in the flour until no traces of white powder remain, the batter will be quite thick.
- Turn the batter into the prepared springform pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Top the cake batter with the sliced almonds; this is a rather heavy coating of almonds, resist the urge to skimp.
- Place the cake pan into the preheated oven and after 30 minutes quickly open the oven door to test doneness with a wooden toothpick. The cake is done when the toothpick comes out clean, generally about 45 minutes depending upon your oven.
- Remove the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. At this point run a sharp knife around the sides of the springform pan, being sure to press the knife against the sides of the pan as you go around. Release the spring and carefully remove the sides of the pan. Allow the Italian Almond Cake to cool completely on the wire rack.
- Once the cake is cooled, use two large spatulas to lift it off of the springform pan bottom. Carefully pull of the parchment paper and place the cake on a decorative platter. Dust heavily with confectioner’s sugar and serve with sugared berries if desired.
I gave you with all my hearth a simple ingredient of south Italy’s culture and you made a masterpiece!
Spero di mangiarne presto una fetta con voi!
My mouth’s watering!!!
The love in which you gave this to me was my inspiration…anch’io cugina.
Sharon Solomon says
When do you add the baking powder
When do I add the baking powder and pinch of salt.
Sharon, sorry about this, forgive me – with the flour. And as we have been in touch I know you were pleased with the cake.
I love this cake for its simplicity and yet beautiful appearance! What a lovely after dinner dessert on those special occasions!
Grazie Marisa, I so appreciate your comment.
My mouth is watering. I love any dessert with almonds-wish I had some of that Italian almond paste but I will try this with whatever I can find!
Please try it with whatever almond paste you have Janie! It is moist, buttery and looks splendid on your favorite cake place with a dusting of powdered sugar.
I just bought some almond paste-not from Italy but not the usual one you find in a small can-can’t wait to make this!
Send me a photo!
Ciao Chow Linda says
Your almond tart looks fantastic. I love the addition of orange peel and the dusting of powdered sugar. I just posted an almond tart too!
Thank you Linda! Yes, I noticed that you have an Almond Tart recipe and I look forward to reading it. Great minds think alike….
This is a delicious dessert to serve after lasagna or anything! Mine took about an hour to bake. It may have been due to the amount of flour: 2/3 cup cake flour sifted into measuring cups is less than just scooping it into cups by a significant amount. That’s why it’s better to have ingredients listed by weight. That said, less flour probably keeps the texture lighter. Served with fresh sliced strawberries. Yum!
Alicia, thank you for your detailed and helpful reply, I so agree that weight is always more accurate. Often I consider using it as well, however many readers are intimidated by it and do not have a scale. Thank you for following and I look forward to hearing from you again.
Lori Foster says
I made this today for a holiday party I’m having tomorrow. I am very excited to compare it to the one we get in Pittsburgh, PA.
So delighted that you made one of my favorite almond cakes. Happy Holidays to you and your family and enjoy the festivities.
This recipe looks amazing. Looks moist, chewy and delicious. I’d like to make this for my mum’s birthday. Is it possible to have the exact measurements please or a rough conversion as to how many grams in a cup etc?
Also, is it possible to add a splash of ameretto to this or would it spoil it?
Thank you so much Emma, and yes it is quite moist and delicious. Actually it is quite easy to convert the measurements using one of the online resources currently available – I often do this when using European recipes. Ameretto would be a nice touch, perhaps a tablespoon should suffice. Please let me know how you make out and a very happy birthday to your Mum.
Do you have a good recipe to make the almond paste?
Hello to you as well Emma. Honestly I generally purchase my almond paste, often bringing it back from Italy with me. The recipes available are rather standard and work well with a food processor. As with preparing anything, use the finest quality fresh almonds.
Grazie bella! You did the Italian Almond Cake recipe proud. So touched by your kind words and noting of my blog…..