Ligurian Almond Cake

This ligurian almond cake is a classic Italian dessert made with blanched almonds, flour, sugar, eggs, and lemon. It’s not overly sweet, so you can easily enjoy it any time of the day (breakfast included).

A whole ligurian almond cake cooling on a wire rack.

This remarkably—and deceptively—simple Ligurian almond cake boasts an understated elegance, a not-too-sweet taste, and pleasantly dense crumb that are the hallmarks of this classic Italian dessert.–Angie Zoobkoff

Ligurian Almond Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 2 H
  • Makes one (9-inch | 23-cm) Bundt cake
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Special Equipment: A 9-inch (23-cm) tube or Bundt pan (10 cup capacity)

Ingredients


Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C) and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Butter a Bundt pan and then coat it with bread crumbs or almond flour, turning and tilting the pan to evenly coat the surface. Tap out any excess crumbs.

On a rimmed baking sheet, spread the almonds in a single layer and toast in the oven, watching closely, until very lightly toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate to cool. Leave the oven on.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the almonds and sugar and pulse until the mixture is a fine powder.

Transfer the almond mixture to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute.

Add the butter and beat until absorbed.

Add the lemon zest and 2 of the eggs and mix until absorbed. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Add 2 more eggs and repeat, being sure to beat for 1 minute after they’re absorbed. Add the last egg and repeat.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is well risen and deep golden and a thin knife inserted halfway between the side of the pan and the center tube emerges clean, 50 to 65 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Carefully unmold the cake onto the rack and let cool completely.

Slice and serve the cake. (You can keep the cake under a cake dome or wrapped in plastic at room temperature for up to a couple days or double wrap it and freeze it for up to a couple months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.)

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I loved the idea of this Ligurian almond cake, especially because I love the dense texture an almond cake almost always delivers. Also, having stood over the bowl removing the skins from the almonds before toasting them, I had invested a bit of myself in this. I even enjoyed that part of the prep after years of being my mother’s prep chef for baklava and other sweets for holidays.

It tastes wonderful. The batter comes together beautifully (and also succeeds in using both the food processor and stand mixer, keeping the dishwasher busy, too).


Buttering the pan and then dusting it with break crumbs was easy, but the crumbs don’t really adhere in a very dense fashion, so I think if you left them out that would be okay. I don’t really think the cake is going to stick, partly because it has so much butter in the batter.

I had misjudged the knife test earlier and felt completely defeated. But once it had cooled, it was remarkably good tasting. I divided it and put 3/4 in the freezer to use for future desserts, and over the next several days we had the quarter I kept out. The least cooked parts have an almost marzipan moistness, what some folks call a “puddin’y” cake, like what you might look for in a brownie. With fruit, or a bit of gelato, this is actually delicious.

I dressed up this almond cake with fresh sliced strawberries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and my tasters all loved it. It isn’t super sweet and there is a nice “crunch” from the ground almonds.

This cake will keep on the counter for several days and I’m sure it could be held in the freezer for a month or two. I’m sure most people know the trick of using butter wrappers to butter cake pans. “It’s a good thing,” to quote Martha Stewart, because you’re saving rather than throwing butter away and it comes in with a built-in spreader (the wrapper.)

I didn’t have blanched almonds on hand and so I blanched the almonds myself. It was a little time-consuming but I saved money and it was super easy to do. You boil water, remove the pan from the heat, and immerse the almonds for exactly 1 minute. Then you dunk them in cold water to stop the cooking and gently squeeze the skins to remove them. You’ll know you’re on the right track when the skins appear to be a bit shriveled after they’re removed from the boiling water.

I also whisked some day-old bread in the food processor to make plain bread crumbs. You really don’t want anything pre-seasoned for this recipe and, as a matter of fact, I never want to use those pre-seasoned crumbs as I prefer to season according to my recipe and my taste! While I believe the bread crumbs could be replaced with a dusting of AP flour, I found that they added a little extra crunch to the outside of the cake as well as a rich brown color. I don’t think they absolutely need to be sprayed since they nicely adhered to the butter.

This batter is quite dense and I used a small offset spatula to even it out in the pan. The baking time of 45 minutes was perfect for my 3 small cakes. I think a Bundt pan with all of the batter in it may take some additional time. Be sure to run a knife or spatula around the edges of the pan to help the cake release.

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