Originally from Iran, almonds have been a part of the European diet for hundreds of years. So, it’s not surprising that we see almond and various other nut based desserts flourish in the pages of old European cookbooks. Polish Cookery (or Uniwersalna Ksiazka Kucharska) by Marja Ochorowicz-Monatowa is no exception. This simple and yet elegant almond torte has been one of my favorite desserts from her book and possibly one of my favorite desserts within the annals of vintage cookery that I have come across so far.
With it’s rich almond batter, verging into a type of marzipan, folded in with the light, airy whipped egg whites, the cake itself is an elegant and yet sumptuously decadent affair worthy to be served at any European cafe. What I also love about this recipe is the versatility of the filling. Being able to swap in any type of jam allows this dessert to wear a variety of different hats. Personally, I have tried this recipe with raspberry jam (my favorite!) and blackberry jam. But, I could easily transform the character of it by using an apricot or peach jam instead.
3 cups white sugar
4 cups ground almonds
2 tbsp flour
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Separate egg whites from yolks and whip egg whites until stiff (reserve the yolks for other purposes).
3. Fold 2 cups of sugar into the egg whites, reserving 1 cup for the icing.
4. Mix in the ground almonds, the juice of 1 lemon and flour.
5. Divide batter into two buttered cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool and spread jam between layers.
6. While the cake is cooking make your icing by boiling 1 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of water. Simmer until the syrup spins a thread. Pour into a bowl and whip until thick. Cool. Mix into the cooled icing the juice of 1 lemon and spread icing over cake.