Top | The Sugar Cube
(recipe, Danielle Centoni & Kir Jensen)
This is my kind of hybrid. It's both a dense, moist almond cake and a bright, lemony teacake all at once — a perfect combination in my book. The cake is an awesome keeper; it stays moist for days, and the flavor seems to get even better!
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¾ tsp. sea salt
- 2 tubes (7 ounces each) almond paste (not marzipan), broken into pieces
- 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 lemons
- 2 tangerines or small oranges
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into chunks
- 7 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Juice of 2 tangerines or small oranges
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. water
- ¼ vanilla bean
- Confectioner's sugar, for sprinkling
- 2 cups lemon curd
- 2 pt. fresh berries, figs, or cherries
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 13-by-4½-by-2½-inch Pullman-style loaf pan (see Note, below) or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans, tapping out the excess flour.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste and sugar on low speed until the mixture is sandy and only small lumps remain, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the mixer off and zest the lemons and tangerines directly over the bowl to catch all the oils. With the mixer on medium, gradually add the butter. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Scrape the paddle attachment to dislodge any clumps of zest and stir them back into the batter.
- With the mixer on medium, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the dry ingredients. With the mixer on low, mix just until combined. Use a spatula to give the batter a couple of folds to make sure everything is well incorporated. The batter will be very light and fluffy.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and smooth the tops. (If your Pullman pan comes with a lid, leave it off. If using loaf pans, divide the batter between the two.) Bake on the center oven rack until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. (The cake will take on a lovely, darkish red-brown color. Don't be afraid. It gives the cake terrific flavor and is such a pretty contrast to the lemon-yellow center of the cake.)
- Add the lemon juice, tangerine juice, sugar, and water to a medium saucepan. Split the piece of vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add to the pan along with the pod and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil for 1 minute to thicken and concentrate the flavors. Remove from the heat and remove the vanilla-bean pod.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before inverting it onto a parchment-lined wire rack. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and brush liberally with the citrus glaze (discard any extra). Let cool completely before cutting into thick slices and serving with lemon curd and fresh berries.
I strongly urge you to spend a few bucks to get a Pullman loaf pan for this. Standard loaf pans scream "quick bread," and this cake deserves the more elegant form a Pullman loaf pan provides.