(Torta al Limone)
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 temperature
- 5 eggs
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.