The day I returned from Asia, I was dragging myself home from dinner after having stayed up all day in an attempt to get myself back on New York time. (Note: This was an epic and I mean EPIC fail. Later that week, I fell asleep on my couch at 6pm--with a full glass of water in my hand. Of course, I promptly dropped the entire thing in my lap, soaking myself and my furniture. Oh well, at least it wasn't red wine, right?) As a dragged myself past the bookstore on my street, I saw something exciting enough to pull me out of my jet-lagged stupor. Amanda Hesser, author of my favorite food book of all time, was appearing there the very next night. I got there early to snag my seat, and after the program (more on that later!) waited patiently for my turn to talk with the speakers. After I chatted with Amanda for a few minutes, I handed over my copy of Cooking For Mr. Latte for her to sign. "Whoa," she said, taking my book. "I think this is the most worn copy I've ever seen." I didn't know whether to be proud or totally mortified. I think I was a little of both. "I cook from it a lot," I explained. And I do--though that's really only half of the story. I also love love love this book as a book, and have probably read it straight through at least five or six times. Which is why I was totally shocked to realize that though I've been writing this blog for over a year (!!) I have yet to feature one of its recipes. So without further ado, here is Amanda Hesser's famous almond cake. I highly recommend the cake, as well as the book. Both the recipes and the writing are delicious.
From Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering pan
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (measured after sifting)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
7-ounce tube almond paste, cut into small pieces
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
Confectioner's sugar, or sifting over cake
Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Mix together the sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl. Sift the flour and salt in another bowl.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the almond paste, a little at a tie, at medium speed, and beat for 8 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, and mix until incorporated. It will look curdled, don't worry. Blend in the almond extract and the sour cream mixture. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture just until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake about 1 hour (note: mine took about 20 minutes longer). It is done when you press the top and it returns its shape, and also shrinks from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool in the pan. When ready to serve, sift confectioner's sugar over the top.
Note: Amanda Hesser says in her book that this cake always sinks. Mine did too, but it was still delicious.