CRISPY ALMOND TORTE
For Grandma, teatime is a key event for visitors, centered around the Victorian silver teapot and sugar bowl marked with the initials AC for Grandma Ada Clark, the same as her own Anne (Willan) Cherniavsky. She has cousins who live nearby, Caroline and her husband Jeremy, who avoid both gluten, and chocolate, the foundation of so many cakes. So Grandma bypasses the problem of what to make for tea with this almond cake which has only three main ingredients: egg whites, sugar, and ground almonds, with sliced almonds as a crispy coating. Serve the cake upside down so the toasted almonds are on full display.
Makes a 23-cm/9-inch cake to serve 8
Butter for the pan
¾ cup/90 g sliced almonds
2 cups/250 g ground almonds
¾ cup/125 g confectioners’ sugar
Whites of 4 eggs
3 tablespoons regular sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Grated zest 2 lemons
Pinch of salt
23-cm/9-inch cake pan
1. Heat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF and set a shelf low down. Butter the base and sides of the pan, line the base with parchment paper and butter the paper. Sprinkle the base and sides of the pan with the sliced almonds, pressing them so they stick to the butter coating. Chill until set, at least 15 minutes.
2. For the batter; mix the ground almonds with the confectioners’ sugar. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff, 60-90 seconds. Sprinkle in the regular sugar and continue beating until the egg whites are a glossy meringue and form a long peak when the whisk is lifted, about 30 seconds more. Stir in the vanilla, lemon zest and salt. With a metal spoon, fold in the ground almond and confectioners’ sugar mixture in three batches. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it carefully so the sliced almonds remain in place.
3. Tap the pan on the counter to exclude any air bubbles, set it in the oven and bake the torte until browned and the mixture starts to pull from the sides of the pan, 40-45 minutes. Let the torte cool completely in the pan before turning it upside down and discarding the paper. Almond torte keeps well, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for 2-3 days and the flavor mellows.