Apricot Almond Cake Italy I adapted this recipe from my book La Dolce Vita, about home-style Ital- ian desserts. With a slice of this cake and a cup of cappuccino, you’ll feel as if you are enjoying la dolce vita in Italy. The cake is packed with toasted almonds and topped with a shiny bright glaze of apricot jam and sliced almonds. Although it’s simple to make, it’s quite glamorous and worthy of a special occasion.
Serves 8 •4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan •1 cup whole almonds (with skins), toasted •1 cup sugar •½ cup all-purpose flour •¼ teaspoon baking powder •4 large eggs, at room temperature •1 teaspoon vanilla extract •¼ teaspoon almond extract •Apricot Glaze •⅓ cup apricot jam •2 tablespoons sugar •2–3 tablespoons sliced almonds (with skins), toasted
Butter a 7-x-2-inch round cake pan or a 6-cup soufflé dish. Line the bot- tom of the pan with wax paper and butter the paper. Place a rack in a large slow cooker. Pour 2 cups hot water into the cooker and turn on the cook- er. In a food processor or blender, combine the whole almonds and ¼ cup of the sugar. Process just until very finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse 2 or 3 times to blend. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the 4 tablespoons butter and the remaining ¾ cup sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla and almond ex- tracts. With a rubber spatula, fold in the ground almond mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Place the cake pan on the rack in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Protecting your hands with oven mitts, carefully remove the pan from the cooker. Place it on a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake. Invert the cake onto a wire rack. Peel off the wax paper. Let the cake cool completely. Make the apricot glaze: Heat the jam and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture starts to simmer, stir well until melted. Strain the glaze through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing on the solids. Pour the glaze onto the top of the cake and spread it smooth. Sprin- kle the sliced almonds in a border around the top edge of the cake. Let cool before serving.
The Mediterranean Slow Cooker
By Alan Richardson and Michele Scicolone