One of the best things a baker will ever hear is “The last piece of cake caused a small argument between my wife and I.” Yesterday, my husband came home from work to tell me that the husband of one of my friends stopped by his office just to share how much he and his wife enjoyed the almond cake I sent their way, so much that there was a bit of tension over who got the last sliver. Since she also bakes, and I know almond cake is a flavor she makes rather regularly, this was a Big Deal. I also wished I had sent a little more their way! Oh well, she’ll have the recipe now.
Almond cake is one of those basic cakes, like white cake, yellow cake, and chocolate cake, where you need a solid recipe you can use as a base for everything else. It’s one of the most popular wedding cake flavors, so you’d think there would be loads of recipes running around, and there are, but the vast majority use box mix. Almond cake has been around longer than box mix, so why wouldn’t the majority of the options be for an almond cake recipe without box mix? I too, am perplexed. I think maybe part of the explanation is that nuts have a tendency to make cakes feel heavy, and while you want the almond cake to be dense enough to use under fondant, you don’t want to feel like you’re eating something as dense as a pound cake either. There has to be a happy medium.
This cake, is that happy medium. It doesn’t dry out easily, has the perfect texture for cake carving or holding its shape under fondant, but it makes beautiful cupcakes as well, light and perfectly domed. I think this is partially due to the method in which the ingredients are mixed. To make the cake, you use what’s called a reverse creaming method. The dry ingredients are mixed first and then you add the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. This ensures that your leaveners are evenly spread throughout the batter and prevents over-beating, so you get a perfect almond cake every time.
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- ⅓ c whole milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1¾ c unbleached all purpose flour
- ¼ c cornstarch*
- ½ c finely-ground blanched almond meal
- 1½ c granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 12 tbsp (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1 tbsp sections
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour your cake pans, or place liners in 2 dozen cupcake wells.
- Combine the flour, cornstarch, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low for about a minute to ensure that the dry ingredients are well blended.
- Add the butter 1 tbsp at a time and mix until it's well incorporated and the mixture resembles wet sand.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, extracts, and milk. Add this mixture to your dry ingredients in two parts, scraping the bowl after each addition. Stir until just combined.
- Pour into your cake pans or fill your cupcake liners ⅔ of the way and bake 20-25 minutes for cupcakes and 30-35 minutes for cakes. The cake is ready when the center springs back when touched gently.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.**
**To make cutting and leveling cakes easier, I often wrap each layer in plastic wrap while it's slightly warm and refrigerate for a few hours or freeze for an hour or so. Well chilled cake is easier to work with. If you do freeze the cake, thaw in the refrigerator before decorating.