(Torta al Limone)
MAKES ONE 10" LOAF
When noted chef Jonathan Waxman prepared this cake for us, he napped it with lemon syrup, though it's good enough to eat plain.
8 1⁄2 oz. (2 sticks plus 1 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3⁄4 cup sifted cake flour
3⁄4 tsp. baking powder
2 pinches salt
1⁄2 cup almond paste
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1. Put an oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8-cup loaf pan with 1/2 tbsp. of the butter. Line bottom and long sides of pan with a sheet of parchment paper long enough to drape over sides by 2"–3", leaving short ends of pan unlined. Butter parchment paper with 1/2 tbsp. of the butter. Set pan aside.
2. Lightly whisk eggs and vanilla together in a medium bowl and set aside. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into another medium bowl and set aside.
3. Crumble almond paste into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar while mixing; mix until texture is grainy, about 2 minutes. Add remaining butter, 1 tbsp. at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat almond mixture on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add egg mixture 1 tbsp. at a time while beating constantly. Continue beating, stopping as needed to scrape down sides of bowl, until mixture is pale and has doubled in volume, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon zest. Gently fold in half the flour mixture at a time. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth out top with the spatula.
4. Bake cake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Tent a piece of foil over cake and continue to bake until cake contracts from sides of pans and springs back when lightly touched, 55–60 minutes more. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then grab parchment paper and lift cake out of pan. Peel off parchment and let cool completely on rack.