Sunday, July 8, 2012

Limóncello Almond Baci (Kiss) Cake

Baci means “kiss” in Italian, and this almond cake is kissed with Limóncello. Be sure to use high quality extra-virgin olive oil with sweet, fruity characteristics. Should you taste the batter before the cake is baked, the olive oil will be quite pronounced, but once baked, you’ll not be able to detect it. Serve warm with a scoop of lemon gelato or sorbet, and the cake may not be the only thing that is kissed!

Vegetable oil cooking spray
½ cup sliced almonds
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
6 tablespoons milk (2% is fine)
2 tablespoons Limóncello
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sweet and fruity extra-virgin olive oil (4 ounces)
1 tablespoon finely minced lemon zest
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons almond cake and pastry filling*

2 tablespoons almond cake and pastry filling*
2 tablespoons milk (2% is fine)
1 tablespoon Limóncello
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon finely minced lemon zest
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted**
Vanilla or lemon gelato (optional)

Special Equipment
8-inch cake pan

  1.   For the cake: Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
  2.  Combine almonds and ¼ cup of the sugar in the bowl of a mini-food processor. Pulse until nuts are very finely ground.
  3.  Pour the ground almonds into a medium mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to combine and aerate, and set aside.
  4.  Combine the milk, Limóncello, vanilla, olive oil and zest; whisk thoroughly and set aside.
  5.   In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and remaining ½ cup of sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and the almond filling and mix until smooth.
  6.   Reduce mixer speed to low; add one-third of the flour mixture to the egg/sugar mixture. Increase the speed to medium, and add half of the milk mixture. Repeat the process until all of the flour and milk mixture have been added in, ending with the last addition of the flour mixture. (Note: Throughout the mixing process, turn off the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, as needed.) After the last of the flour has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then run the mixer on low speed for 30 seconds; do not over-mix or the cake will be tough.
  7.   Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Tap the pan on the counter one or two times to remove any air bubbles.
  8.   Bake until the cake is a deep golden brown, the center of the cake feels firm when pressed, and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Do not over bake.
  9.   Place the cake on wire rack; cool for 10, then unmold the cake and place it on cooling rack positioned over a baking sheet with sides.
  10. For the glaze: Combine all of the glaze ingredients except the sliced almonds in a small mixing bowl; whisk until smooth and creamy.
  11. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke several holes in the surface of the warm cake. Slowly pour the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing some to soak into the cake and some to drip down the sides.
  12. Sprinkle the sliced toasted almonds evenly over the surface of the cake, and press lightly to help them adhere. Let the cake rest for 10 minutes. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature accompanied by a scoop of vanilla or lemon gelato.

Tips and Techniques
* Available on the baking aisle of most grocery stores next to canned fruit/pie fillings. Also available online at

** To Toast Nuts: To toast in oven, spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in 350 oven and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until they are light golden brown. To toast on stovetop, place nuts in dry sauté pan large enough to accommodate them in a single layer. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to color. Remove from heat, then immediately remove from hot pan to stop browning process.

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