Mississippi baker and James Beard Award–winning cookbook author Martha Foose has a knack for letting simple flavors shine. Her recipe for a traditional almond cake is a showstopper of a dessert—the kind that leaves friends and family clamoring to know the secret. But you don’t need to be a Paris-trained pastry chef like Foose to pull it off. An almond cake is the rare dessert that’s almost impossible to mess up.
Photograph by Margaret Houston
Foose inherited this straightforward recipe from one of her mother’s sewing students, and though it’s a favorite in the Foose house year-round, she’s particularly fond of the classic cake this time of year. “It’s an anytime-of-day dessert so it works well for an Easter brunch,” Foose says. “It’s also a nice neutral palate so you can decorate it with just about anything.” Here, she dusts the cake with powdered sugar, adds an easy apricot glaze, and garnishes with cheerful Johnny-jump-ups for spring. (You can also skip the glaze and serve the dessert with sliced seasonal fruit like strawberries, raspberries, or peaches in the summertime, instead.) Almond cake keeps well—deepening in flavor if allowed to sit for a day—so make ahead and you’ll have one less thing to fuss with as your guests arrive. Just hold off on the glaze until you’re ready to serve.
Easter Almond Cake
¾ cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
8 oz. almond paste
3 large eggs
2 tbsp. Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka (Apricot Brandy or Triple Sec works, too)
¼ tsp. almond extract
¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting cake pan
⅓ tsp. baking powder
1 cup apricot jam
¼ cup water or Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka
To make the cake, butter and flour an 8-inch round cake or spring-form pan. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar, butter, and almond paste on medium until blended. Reduce speed to low and add eggs one at a time. Add vodka and almond extract. Then, add flour and baking powder, and mix until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool, then turnout onto a cake plate. Place a saucer upside down in the middle of the cake and dust the top with powdered sugar. Then, remove the saucer and arrange Johnny-jump-ups at the center using T-pins.
For the glaze, combine apricot jam with water or vodka and heat in a saucepan or microwaveable dish until warm but not hot. Spoon evenly onto the center of the cake over top the flowers.
Pull all of the T-pins out (the flowers will remain under the glaze). Slice and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Garden and Gun Magazine