My first job out of culinary school was working at chef Matthew Kenney's namesake restaurant, Matthew's. I started there as a garde manger (maker of appetizers, cold dishes, and salads) but eventually became the pastry chef. One of the recipes that I inherited in that position was this almond cake. It is one of the most moist and delicious cake recipes I know...I have made it many many times since leaving the restaurant business.
One of the reasons I love this recipe so much is that the almond paste in the recipe keeps the cake moist and perfect for several days. As a result, you can make it a day or two before a party and be sure that it will still be wonderful on the day of the party. It is a simple looking cake but there are a few things I have done to garnish it...in the photo above I used pretty fruit gels and marzipan sweets for decoration around the perimeter. I have also arranged paper thin candied lemon slices or scattered toasted sliced almonds over the top. Just a few lemon wedges and some greens such as mint sprigs would also be pretty.
The original recipe for Matthew's Almond Pound Cake, as well as many other great recipes, is in Matthew's cookbook. I have adapted the recipe because almond paste is sold in 7 ounce tubes and the original recipe calls for 12 ounces. In the restaurant we bought almond paste in bulk so this was not an issue but at home the extra 2 ounces alwasys seemed like a waste!
Lemon Almond Cake adapted from Matthew Kenney's Almond Pound Cake:
6 tablespoons unslated butter, softenned
1/3 cup light olive oil
3/4 cup sugar
14 ounces almond paste, crumbled
grated zest of 3 lemons
5 large eggs
1/2 cup cake four
1 teaspoon baking powder
lemon juice (from 3 lemons zested above)
confectioner's sugar to taste (I use about 1/4 cup for a slightly sweet, slightly tart glaze)
Preheat oven to 325°.
Butter and flour an 8 inch round by 3 inch deep cake pan (if you do not have a deep pan you may use a regular 9 inch cake pan). Line bottom with parchment paper.
Place the butter, olive oil, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until fluffy. Add the almond paste and the lemon zest. Beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the flour and baking powder. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 45 minutes of until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool in pan. Invert cake and place right side up on a serving plate.
Combine the lemon juice and confectioners sugar in a small pan and whisk over medium heat until all the lumps are dissolved. Use a toothpick to poke holes over the surface of the cake. Slowly spoon the lemon glaze over the cake, allowing it to soak into the holes.