04 April 2011

Almond Torte

If you are gluten intolerant with a raging sweet tooth, I advise you to move to Portugal. Cake making without flour is an unusual adaptive feat most of the time, isn't it?  Kind of like making a Thanksgiving turkey out of tofu. Not that there is anything WRONG with that, but wouldn't it just be more delicious to make a meal out of actual veggies? 

Bolo de Amêndoa, or Almond Torte, is a seriously rich, seriously delicious piece of baked goodness that exists naturally in its best form without a bit of flour.  It also has the virtue of staying moist and delicious for a spookily long time-- even improving with age. AND it is equally tasty as a dessert, breakfast, or afternoon snack with coffee.

AND it is full of protein, by way of about 3 cups of almonds and four eggs.  Which means it is practically a health food.

In typical local fashion, the main flavor comes from cinnamon and lemon, but I added some vanilla because-- well, why bake if the smell of vanilla is not going to be involved?

It also gave me a new understanding of eggs.  Did you know that if you beat egg yolks and sugar with a hand mixer for 7 minutes, they get light and fluffy and pale and sticky like honey glue? Or the inside of a Cadbury creme egg?  Did you further know that this will make your hand cramp, but you can push through the pain by imagining the payoff?

So, what are you waiting for?  Ohhhh, one last endorsement:

Almond Torte
slightly adapted from Leite's Culinaria
serves 10-12 

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
Flour (just for coating the pan!)
3 cups blanched slivered almonds, or 2 cups of ground almonds
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
Zest from 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for the top

Preheat to 350°F (180C). Grease a 10-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then grease and flour the pan and paper. (This cake is a sticky bugger.).

If you are starting with slivered almonds, grind them with 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor until it is grainy and as fine as you can get it. (If you are using pre-ground almonds, simply stir with the sugar.) Add the butter and pulse/stir to combine. Put it aside.

Flex your hand a few times, then take up your mixer and beat 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the yolks on medium-high until light in color, fluffy, and gummy, about 7 minutes. (If you have a stand mixer, skip the hand flexing.) Add the zest, salt, and cinnamon and mix until incorporated. Add the almond mixture and vanilla.

Clean your beaters and flex your hand again, and get ready for round two: whisk the egg whites until foamy. Slowly whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until the whites form shiny soft billows. Add a scoop to the almond mixture and stir. Gently fold in the rest of the whites and spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake until dark golden and the sides pull away from the pan, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack and rest for 5 minutes before taking out of the pan. Cool completely before serving, and then top with sifted powdered sugar. (Do not be alarmed if the center collapses, that is normal.)


  1. Almond Cake? I will be making this in the near future, believe. I think the only step I will not be following is the "waiting for the cake to cool completely before serving" one (I paraphrase). Who has the patience for that when there is delicious cake to be eaten IMMEDIATELY, scalding hot, blistering your soft palate with its molten almond goodness?

    Wait...maybe this is why all my cakes all end up looking like pacman. Good recipe.

  2. Haha! Well, Pacman cakes are a sign of a delicious cake, that is what I always say. Or at least I have since you made the original Pac Man Maple Pancake Cake. That was unbelievable in any shape.