I love a cup of espresso more than just about anything and this Flourless Italian Almond Cake is the perfect accompaniment. It is made with almond paste, so it is soft and exceptionally moist with a light almond sweetness. Oh and did I mention that it’s gluten free?
You won’t believe how delicious this cake is. It’s as if it were made specifically to be served with a cup of bold espresso. One bite and you will be immediately transported to Italy!
Are Almonds popular in Italy?
Believe it or not, almonds are the most widely grown nut in the world and Italy is one of the largest producers of this fabulous nut. Some of the best almonds are grown in Sicily near the towns of Noto and Siracusa (two of my favorite places to visit). So, it is no surprise that you see almonds used in so many Italian baked goods and confections. Many of the traditional cakes and cookies from Italy are made with almonds including my mother’s famous Sicilian Almond Paste Cookies and Nonna’s Easy Almond Ring.
- Almond paste is easiest to work with when it is at room temperature. When it is cold it will be stiff and hard to manipulate, but when warm it is so pliable that you can spread it. Leave to warm up to room temperature if you have been storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.
- The simplest way to blend the ingredients for this recipe is by using a food processor.
- Butter should also be at room temperature so that it is soft and can be creamed with the almond paste.
- Granulated sugar is called for in this recipe. Do not use super fine or confectioners’ sugar in the cake recipe.
- Lemon zest is added to provide a bit of brightness to the cake.
- Eggs should be at room temperature as well. This will help them blend better and fluffier into the batter.
- Almond Flour is mixed with baking powder and salt before being added to the batter. When measuring the almond flour, spoon it into the measuring cup and then level it off before adding it. The almond paste and the almond flour add a lot of moisture to the cake due to their high fat content (don’t worry almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the good kind of fat). At the same time, they are heavier then all-purpose flour so the cake will not have the same rise as most cakes.
Tips for making this Flourless Italian Almond Cake:
- Use a food processor if you have one available. Add the almond paste and butter to the food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process on full speed for about two minutes. The mixture should be creamed but might be a bit grainy.
- If you don’t have a food processor a mixer can be used. Just make sure the butter and almond paste are mixed well and long enough to become creamy. It may still be a little grainy, but you should not have large pieces of almond paste in the batter.
- Scape down the sides as needed to make sure all the ingredients are mixed in properly or you will have chunks of almond paste in your cake.
- Once you have finished adding the sugar and the eggs, transfer the batter to a bowl and add the dry ingredients by hand. I do this to avoid over mixing the batter. Once all the almond four is blended in stop mixing.
- Line the bottom of your baking pan with parchment paper. This will help the cake slide right out the pan without sticking. To do this, place the baking pan on the parchment paper and trace along the outside of the pan. Cut along the pencil marks. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan and place the parchment circle on the bottom. Grease the parchment paper. Now lightly flour the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Add the sliced almonds to the top of the cake before baking.
- Bake your cake at 325 degrees for about 35 minutes. When toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean it is done.
- Cool the cake in the pan for about 10-15 minutes. The cake will pull away from the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto your hand remove the parchment from the bottom. Place the cake on a rack and cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar. Now you can enjoy your Italian Almond Cake!
Almond flour is heavier than cake flour or AP flour, so baked goods will rise less or spread out more. Cookies for instance will spread more and cakes and other non-yeast baked goods will not rise as high.
Almond meal is made from raw unpeeled almonds, while almond flour is made from blanched (peeled) almonds. Almond flour has a finer texture and is lighter in color then almond meal.
Yes, you can substitute all-purpose flour for some or all of the almond flour in this recipe, but it will change the texture of the cake. The cake will rise higher and be less dense and less moist than the recipe using almond flour.
No, they are quite different. Marzipan has much more sugar in it, and it is stiffer than almond paste. It can be eaten as candy and it is often dyed and shaped into fruits. Almond paste on the other hand has less sugar in it and is softer so it is used in baking rather than on it’s own.
Other delicious desserts to Try:
The Best Flourless Italian Almond Cake with Almond Paste
- 1 Food processor
- 1 Parchment Paper
- 1 9" x 2" Round cake pan
- 4 oz Almond Paste cut into small pieces
- ½ cup Butter softened
- ½ cup Sugar
- ½ tsp Lemon Zest
- 4 Eggs
- ½ tsp Almond Extract
- 1⅓ cups Almond Flour not almond meal
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ cup Slivered Almonds
- 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the cake pan. Grease the bottom and sides the cake pan with butter or cooking spray. Line the cake pan with the parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper. Dust the pan bottom and sides with flour and discard any excess.
- Place the almond paste and butter in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until the butter and almond paste are creamed, about 2 minutes. Scarp down the sides to make sure that all of the almond paste is mixed into the butter.
- With the food processor running, add the sugar and lemon zest.
- Continue to run the food processor and add the eggs one at a time, stopping between each one to make sure that it is fully blended in. Add the Almond extract while blending. Stop the processor once all have been mixed in.
- Stir together the almond flour, baking powder and salt.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the almond flour mixture, just until is completely combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan.
- Sprinkle the almonds on the top of the batter and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes. The cake should pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and place on a cooling rack. When completely cool, Dust with powdered sugar.