This is one of those awesome cakes that just gets better every time you make it. Remember it when you have that irrepressible urge WANT CAKE! Of course, it makes a big one, so you'll have to invite over some friends! Oh, and added JOY: this is a NUT cake, no flour involved!
Butter and sugar for tin
250g (about 8½ ounces) butter, cubed and softened
250g (about 8½ ounces) caster (superfine granulated) sugar
5 medium (size 6) free-range eggs, at room temperature
250g (about 8½ ounces) ground almonds
50g (1-2 ounces) blanched almonds, finely chopped
125g 4 ounces) dark unsweetened chocolate (75% cacao), chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest ½ lemon
Icing (confectioner’s) sugar for dusting
Plain yoghurt, to serve
1 Brush a 23cm (9”) cake tin with butter, line the bottom with a disc of baking (parchment) paper and brush that with butter, too, then dust the tin with caster sugar. Turn tin over and tap it gently to dislodge any surplus sugar. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
2 Put butter in a bowl and beat with a cake mixer until creamy and loose. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until fluffy and lighter in colour (creamed). You’ll need to stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times. Beat eggs together with a fork, then add them gradually to the creamed butter and sugar, beating well after each addition.
3 Mix in the ground and chopped almonds, chocolate, vanilla and lemon zest. Turn mixture into prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger and it is pulling away from the sides of the tin. Cool cake in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a cake rack lined with paper. Cool for 30 minutes, removing the disc of paper if it is attached. Cover with a clean piece of baking paper and a second cake rack. Flip the cake over and remove top cake rack and paper.
4 When the cake is cool, sift plenty of icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) over the top and cut into slices for serving.
Brushing the cake tin with butter then dusting it with sugar gives the outside of the cake a sugary crust.
It’s important that the butter is ‘squishy’ soft to ensure it will cream perfectly with the sugar. If you loosen it in the microwave, do so carefully, because if it melts it will not be able to hold air and the cake will be heavy. Click here for information on Baking ingredients.
Other dishes to include in an Italian feast
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com