This Italian almond cake has a moist, dense almond cake with citrus undertones, topped with toasted almonds. This recipe is fast and easy and is ready start to finish in less than 45 minutes.
Why This Recipe Works
Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:
- Uses classic Italian flavors
- No fuss cake—easy to make, no fancy decorations
- Almond flavor comes int 3 different ways—almond flour, almond extract, and toasted almonds
- Super moist and tender
I love the simple ingredients (no almond paste!) and instructions for this recipe. The orange and lemon zest pair so well with the almond flavors. This cake is sweet, but in European tradition, it is not overly sweet. I reworked this recipe over and over before I found the perfect balance of dense, but not too dense, moist, but not gummy, and delicate flavors. I think you will love it too.
- Almond Flour. Use finely ground almond flour. Almond flour adds that nutty, almond flavor, but also helps give the cake it dense texture, while still retaining a ton of moisture.
- Flour. We use a little bit of all-purpose flour to keep the texture light.
- Cornstarch. Cornstarch gives this Italian almond cake a soft, tender texture.
- Salt. A little salt helps balance out the sweetness of the cake.
- Baking Powder. We use the tiniest amount of baking powder to help this cake rise.
- Eggs. We use large, whole, room temperature eggs. The eggs whipped with the sugar to create a lighter textured cake.
- Sugar. Use white, granulated sugar. This adds sweetness and tenderizes the cake. A little sugar is also sprinkled on top of the almonds on top of the cake.
- Almond Extract. A little almond
- Lemon Zest. Lemon zest adds nice citrus notes without overwhelming the almond flavoring.
- Orange Zest. Orange zest adds a fresh flavor that pairs beautifully with the lemon and almond flavors in this cake.
- Butter. You can use salted or unsalted butter. Melted butter adds flavor and moisture to this cake.
- Oil. Oil adds moisture. You can use olive oil or vegetable oil.
- Sliced Almonds. Sliced almonds go on top of the cake batter before being baked.
- Powdered sugar. A small amount of powdered sugar is sprinkled on top of the cake for a touch of extra sweetness and as a finishing touch.
How to Make this Recipe
- Whisk dry ingredients. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together almond flour, flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
- Whip eggs. In a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip eggs and sugar together on high for about 5 minutes. Or until the mixture has tripled in size and gone pale in color. Picture 2a shows eggs and sugar after being mixed 30 seconds, picture 2b shows eggs after being mixed 5 minutes.
- Add butter. Melt butter and mix together with oil. Add the orange zest, lemon zest, and almond extract to the batter. Slowly stream in the butter and oil with the whipped eggs as the mixer is running. Adding the fat slowly to the egg mixture helps emulsify the two and ensures they won’t split.
- Fold. Add the dry ingredients to your egg mixture and gently fold the two together. You are trying to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
- Pour into pan. Grease a 9-inch springform pan (or a deep 9-inch round cake pan) and line the bottom with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it evenly.
- Top. Top off the batter with sliced almonds. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over top of the batter and almonds.
- Bake. Bake the cake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 minutes. The cake should gently spring back when pressed on and when inserted, a toothpick should have a few moist crumbs on it. The baking time may vary depending on the pan or altitude. See our section below for more info.
- Cool & Dust. Cool the cake and then dust with powdered sugar.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you do not have lemons or oranges, you can omit the zest. The flavor of the cake will change and lose its citrus undertones.
Yes, you can halve this recipes and bake it in a smaller pan, like a loaf pan. You may need to adjust the bake time.
If you do not have almond flour, try making your own! All you need is almonds to make it. You could also substitute something like hazelnut flour, however, the flavor profile will change. Do not substitute more all-purpose flour.
Almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios are some of the most popular nuts in Italy. Italy is one of the largest producers of almonds, which is why almonds are used so often in Italian baked goods.
Citrus fruits are the primary fruits produced in Italy! Citrus fruits account for 63% of Italian fruit production. Over 330,000 pounds of oranges and over 220,000 pounds of lemons are picked each year in Italy.
- Use room temperature eggs. Room temperature eggs will whip up, giving more volume, easier than cold eggs. To bring to room temperature quickly you can place the eggs in warm water for 5 minutes.
- Use finely ground almond flour. Make sure you are using finely ground almond flour, some almond meals are quite coarse and will make this cake too dense.
- Fold gently. When folding in the dry ingredients, do so gently. This Italian almond cake has very little leavening agent in it so most the rise in this cake comes from the air being whipped into the eggs. I Like to use a rubber scraper to fold the two together and do a motion of scraping around the sides of the bowl in a circular motion and then down the center of the batter. I gently repeat this until it all comes together and there are no streaks in it.
- Measure ingredients carefully. I have provided the weight of ingredients in grams, which is my preferred way to measure ingredients when available. A cup is not always a cup, but a gram is always a gram. In this recipe, the ingredients you have to measure the most carefully are the flour and almond flour. The all-purpose flour should be spooned and leveled. We have a guide on how to measure flour if you need some guidance. The almond flour should not be spooned and leveled or you will end up with too little almond flour. To measure the almond flour, simply use your measuring cup to scoop the almond flour out of the bag and scrape off the top so it’s level with the measuring cup.
Checking the Cake for Doneness
There are so many variables that can affect your cake’s bake time—color of pan, oven variance, altitude, etc.
Dark metal pans absorb heat more quickly than lighter pans. I used a dark colored, springform pan. So, if you choose to use a light colored pan you may need to bake your cake for longer than I did.
If you live in a high altitude (3,000+ feet) the air pressure can have all sorts of effects on your baked goods. It can affect bake time, cakes drying out too quickly, lack of structure, etc. If you are consistently having issues with your cakes or breads and live at a high altitude if might be time to do some research.
My oven runs a little differently than the oven I had in my last house, and it definitely feels different from my mom’s. What I’m trying to say is, every oven runs a little differently and you will have to get a feel for it. Some ovens always run hot, I started keeping an oven thermometer in my oven to see how accurate my temperature was! So keep an eye on your cake, don’t expect all things to bake the exact same.
Checking the Cake
I usually do two tests to check if my cake is done—the toothpick test and the spring back test.
You’ve probably heard of the toothpick test: Stick a toothpick in the center of your cake and see if it comes back clean. However, what I really want to see are a few moist crumbs stuck to the toothpick. If it comes out completely clean, that often means my cake, once cool, will be just a touch dryer than I really want.
The second thing I check is the spring back test. Pull the cake out oven just enough to be able to touch the center of the cake with your hand. Gently press on the cake, it should feel soft but firm, depress but gently spring back. The more cakes you bake and test like this the easier this one will become. You’ll get a feel for it pretty quickly!
How to Serve this Recipe
This Italian almond cake it not overly sweet, its perfect to serve with coffee or tea, it also makes a wonderful brunch option! Make it for Easter or Mother’s Day!
One of my favorite things about this cake is that not only is it easy to make, but it travels super well and stores easily! You don’t have worry about keeping it refrigerated, or the frosting melting off when it’s warm outside. It’s the perfect cake to bring to friend or neighbor as a pick-me-up. Try serving this cake with some freshly whipped ricotta cream or mascarpone whipped cream.
How to Store this Recipe
This Italian almond cake should be tightly wrapped and stored at room temperature. it’s best eaten within 3 days of making.
You can also freeze this cake! To freeze, cool the cake completely. Wrap the whole cake in plastic wrap or cut individual slices and wrap each slice in plastic wrap. Wrap the cake in a second layer of plastic wrap and then store in an airtight container that will prevent it from being squished in the freezer.
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Italian Almond Cake
- 1 ½ cups almond flour (180 grams)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour (97 grams) spooned and leveled
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch (5 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- zest of 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
- zest of 1 orange (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
- ½ cup butter melted and cooled until not hot
- 3 tablespoons oil (olive oil or vegetable)
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and lightly flour a 9-inch springform pan.
- Whisk together almond flour, flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whip eggs and sugar together on high for about 5 minutes. The mixture should be pale in color and have tripled in size.
- Reduce the mixer to low-medium speed and slowly add in the cooled, melted butter and oil. Then add in the almond extract, lemon zest, and orange zest. Mix until these ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Gently fold in your dry ingredients trying not to lose any air. The mixture should be homogenous and there should be no streaks.
- Pour the batter into the greased springform pan andsmooth the batter so it is evenly spread.
- Top with sliced almonds and then two tablespoons of granulated sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes. To check for doneness:insert a toothpick in the center—it should come back clean, a few moist crumbs are okay. Cake should spring back when gently pressed.
- Cool cake and dust with powdered sugar.
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