This elegant cake harnesses the magic of an unassuming ingredient you may have missed on trips down the baking aisle at the store: almond paste. Made by finely processing blanched almonds and sugar into a paste and typically sold in tubes or small jars, almond paste is a one-stop shop for adding moisture, richness, sweetness, and (duh) huge almond flavor to all kinds of baked goods. A scant tipple of optional almond extract in this cake further enhances the lovely nut flavor. The cake itself has a fine, plush crumb and crunchy toasted-sugar edges, and it doubles as chic dinner party dessert and breakfast-appropriate slice. While delicious on its own, it absolutely sings when topped with a spoonful of softly whipped cream and your seasonal fruit of choice: macerated strawberries, ripe apricots or peaches, cherry compote, fresh figs with honey, poached pears—you get the idea. Cake + fruit = good. —Christina Chaey
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1¼ cups (156 g) all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt
7 oz. almond paste (about ¾ cup)
1¼ cups (250 g) sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. almond extract (optional)
Whipped cream and/or ripe summer fruit (for serving; optional)
Step 1nonstick vegetable oil spray. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and lightly coat parchment with nonstick spray. Whisk 1¼ cups (156 g) all-purpose flour, 1¼ tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt in a small bowl to combine.
Beat 7 oz. almond paste (about ¾ cup) and 1¼ cups (250 g) sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed until combined and small crumbs form, about 4 minutes (a few crumbs may want to leap out of the bowl from time to time; draping a kitchen towel over the mixer will keep them contained). Increase speed to medium-high and add 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature. Beat, occasionally scraping sides of bowl with a flexible rubber spatula, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add 5 large eggs, room temperature, in 3 additions (start with 2, add 2 more, then add the last one), scraping sides and bottom of bowl and making sure eggs are fully incorporated between each addition. Mix in 1 tsp. vanilla extract and ¼ tsp. almond extract (if using), then reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients. Beat until just combined (be careful not to overmix).
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top with a small offset spatula or a spoon. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 55–65 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool completely in pan.
Turn out cake onto a wire rack; remove and discard parchment. Turn cake right side up and cut into slices. Serve with whipped cream and your favorite ripe summer fruit if desired.
Do ahead: Cake can be baked 1 day ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
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