To me, the almond is the queen of nuts. Almonds are refined, not too fatty, and extremely nutritious — and they have a delicate aroma that’s a great complement to so many foods.
This cake is a celebration of this succulent kernel; every spoonful is filled with the wonderful texture of ground almonds and the exquisite flavor of almond essence.
This cake is not as dense, nor as rich, as a pound cake, yet it still has that irresistible crumbly, cakey quality. To lighten things up, I like to serve the flavorful slices with strawberries that have been macerated with strawberry or cassis liqueur, and a chantilly spiked with zingy ginger preserve.
Although it’s best eaten the day it’s made, the cake will keep at room temperature, in a cool place, for up to two days.
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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the blanched almonds in the bowl of a food processor with 1 tablespoon of the flour and process until chopped very finely, about 1 minute. This should yield about 1 cup ground almonds.*
Place the ground almonds, remaining flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside. Place the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip at high speed until foamy and ribbony. While continuing to whip the eggs at high speed, gradually add 2/3 cup of the sugar and then the almond extract. Continue whipping until soft peaks form.
With a silicone spatula, fold ½ of the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just incorporated. Then, fold in the melted butter until just incorporated. Finish by folding in the remaining flour mixture. Do not overmix or the cake will not rise.
Butter and flour a 9-inch nonstick spring-form cake pan. Pour the batter into the mold. Top with the slivered almonds and 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before unmolding.
While the cake is baking, place the strawberries in a bowl. Add the remaining sugar and liqueur. Stir well, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The strawberries will release their juices.
Place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip at medium speed until thickened, taking care not to overbeat. Add the ginger preserve and whip for another 5 seconds until well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate. (The strawberries and chantilly can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours.)
To serve, place each slice of cake in the center of a dessert plate. Spoon the strawberries next to it along with some of the juices. Place a dollop of the ginger chantilly next to the strawberries. Garnish with a mint sprig, dust with powdered sugar, and serve immediately.